Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Jul 07th
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Home Our Missions Environmental Protection Not as Dumb as It Seems - Many supporters

Not as Dumb as It Seems - Many supporters

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Not as Dumb as It Seems
Worth the effort
Many supporters
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Many supporters
Since the recycling program was initiated, more than 40 restaurants and clinics have agreed to donate their used glass bottles to Tzu Chi. Many local business owners are enthusiastic supporters of the program.

Liu Ren-ye (劉人圠), a Taiwanese orchid grower, is one of them. In the mountainous regions of Nanjing, the marked differences in temperatures between day and night are ideal for growing orchids. The climate in the county has spawned a large number of orchid cultivators, who in turn have created a large demand for seedling culture bottles. Liu observed that many of these bottles are broken during cultivation and transportation. Disposing of all the broken glass could be a big headache for the orchid growers, but Tzu Chi takes care of it all by collecting the broken glass for them.

Li Xiuxia (李秀霞), a practicing doctor who owns a clinic, is another supporter. She said that her husband was once cut by glass while swimming in a river. She did not want the same thing to happen to others, so in response to Tzu Chi’s glass recycling project, she began to save her bottles for the volunteers.

Wu Xiaohong (吳曉紅) is a restaurant owner. Her restaurant produces many empty glass beverage bottles. She used to put them out by the side of the road with the rest of the garbage to be collected, but they attracted flies and smelled bad. Sometimes vagrants would rummage through the trash, creating a mess and even causing bottles to roll into the road, thus posing a danger to passing cars. The police once fined her for this situation. She is more than glad that Tzu Chi volunteers come to her restaurant and take away the empty bottles. It solves a big headache for her.

Recycling to help indigent students
At the home of Tzu Chi volunteer Cheng Suli (程素麗), dozens of heavy, cumbersome bags filled with glass bottles lay in a large pile. It had taken Cheng and two other volunteers, Wang Baiying (王白英) and Zhuang Guoshan (莊國山), many trips to collect that much glass.

The three of them usually work together; Cheng rides a bicycle, Zhuang a tricycle, and Wang a motor scooter. They visit one restaurant after another and one clinic after another, picking up glass at each stop. Working together, they can collect more than ten large bags each trip. They tie the bags securely to their vehicles and bring them back to Cheng’s home.

A neighbor said she often sees Cheng going out to collect glass. Sometimes Cheng does not return home from such recycling runs until after dark. Then she works in front of her home, cleaning out the bottles, separating aluminum and plastic items from the bottles, and putting them in different groups. “All of us living around here know that she is collecting glass to help the needy,” said the neighbor.

Cheng said that in the beginning her neighbors were curious as to why she had become a “garbage collector.” “How much money do you earn a month by collecting garbage?” they would ask. Cheng knew that environmental protection was a novel idea to the locals, so she just told her neighbors she was using the proceeds from the sale of the recyclables to help the poor. By and by, some of her neighbors even began to gather recyclable items for her.

Wei Xiangui (魏獻貴), Cheng’s husband, said that his friends used to complain to him, “How could you let your wife become a garbage collector?” But instead of feeling embarrassed, he proudly replied, “My wife is doing recycling to help students from poor families.”

It’s not shameful to do the right thing
Xiaofen (小芬), a 12th grader, is one of the students receiving financial aid from Tzu Chi. Her father, in his forties, is almost completely blind. They barely support themselves by selling vegetables they grow in the vacant lot in front of their house. Since there is no extra money for education, Tzu Chi has been providing financial help to put Xiaofen through school.

Her father is very grateful for Tzu Chi’s help. He told Tzu Chi volunteers that he would ask his daughter to donate money to the foundation after she graduated and began to make money on her own. The volunteers said to him, “You don’t need to wait until Xiaofen graduates. You can start helping others right now by recycling with us.”

Thus, Xiaofen’s father decided to help recycle glass too. Guided by others in the village, he began collecting waste glass to donate to Tzu Chi. He does not mind at all what his neighbors think when he picks up glass from the streets. Like the other Tzu Chi environmental volunteers in Nanjing, he believes that doing the right thing is never shameful.

More and more local people, like Xiaofen’s father, have joined Tzu Chi’s recycling program. Huang Yulai (黃玉來), a retired public official, not only joined Tzu Chi herself--but so did the rest of her family, including her aged parents, sons, daughters-in-law, sisters, nephews, and grandsons! They all became members as they began to identify with the ideals of Tzu Chi. Even Huang’s 88-year-old mother picks up glass bottles from the sides of roads and rivers. Huang’s brother, a vegetable peddler, uses used plastic bags collected by Huang to help cut down on the consumption of new bags.

"We’re actually benefiting our posterity by protecting the earth,” said Huang, a staunch supporter of environmental protection.

Zhang Meilian (張美蓮) works the graveyard shift at a local textile factory. After work, she takes a short rest and then hops on her bicycle. She rides around collecting glass from restaurants and clinics.

In the beginning, she kept her efforts a secret, worried that her husband would object to her recycling work. But when he learned of her efforts, he gave her his full support. Her children likewise support her, and they often bring empty beverage cans and bottles home from school for her. She said that her relationship with her children had even improved since she began participating in recycling, perhaps because she was smiling more.

Song Ping (宋萍) and Zhuang Xuehui (莊雪揮) are professional caterers who have worked for the past ten years at the canteen at Liao Chao-zhong’s factory. About four years ago, Liao invited them to join Tzu Chi. They have been volunteering ever since. Although they often work from early morning to late at night, they hit the streets during their afternoon breaks to collect waste glass.

Once on a cold winter night, Song Ping saw a figure salvaging stuff from a roadside garbage can. A closer look revealed the person to be Huang Yuying, also a Tzu Chi environmental volunteer. Moved by the bent silhouette of Huang working so hard to retrieve recyclable materials, Song vowed to herself that she would work harder to do recycling.

Since they started participating in Tzu Chi’s environmental program, Song and Zhuang have grown more eco-conscious in their daily lives. Song used to refuse to eat leftovers, and she would ask for more plastic bags than necessary to carry her purchases when she went shopping. Zhuang had the same habits. Volunteering for Tzu Chi has changed all that--neither can imagine doing things like that again. They decided to replace the plastic and Styrofoam tableware used at the factory canteen with stainless steel eating utensils. This helped reduce the amount of garbage produced in the canteen. They never let anything go to waste, even stooping down to pick up the smallest pieces of paper.


The Beauty of the Jing Si Abode


Are you prepared to put your kindness into actions and join Tzu Chi in promoting the goodness and beauty of mankind?
You are always welcome to join our Tzu Chi’s Great Love missions by becoming a member or volunteer. Please contact the Tzu Chi location near you.

" Let us not ask for good health, only clarity of mind. Let us not seek for everything to go our way, only the courage and strength to persevere. Let us not wish for lesser responsibilities, only for the ability to shoulder more. "
Jing-Si Aphorism

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