Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Jul 04th
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Home Our Missions Environmental Protection Not as Dumb as It Seems - Creating a cleaner community

Not as Dumb as It Seems - Creating a cleaner community

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Creating a cleaner community
Once a month, volunteers gather at the Tzu Chi recycling station to sort and process the trash they have collected. It is hard and arduous work. Volunteers empty out bags packed with recyclables: small boxes contained within big boxes, metal bottle caps with plastic linings, pieces of iron embedded in plastic. It is difficult and time consuming to thoroughly sort and classify all of the materials.

Zhang Liangshui is always present for the monthly recycling day. Sorting through the trash, he said, “This kind of plastic sells for four yuan per kilo [26 US cents per pound]; that kind goes for one yuan per kilo [7 US cents per pound].” Clearly, experience in recycling has taught him a lot.

A volunteer named Chen has been in the recycling business for 20 years. “When I started, there weren’t so many soft drink bottles. Look at all the over-packaged goods, the thick stacks of newspapers......”

Although civilization has advanced and new technology has made life more convenient, the general quality of life has not improved very much over that of our ancestors. Zhang Liangshui has experienced this firsthand. One time he was taking a swim in the river, enjoying the cool water. Suddenly, he noticed he was surrounded by garbage: tires, glass, and even feces flowing down the river. He immediately climbed out of the river, but not before contracting some kind of irritating skin disease.

According to a study released in January 2007 by the China Environmental Culture Promotion Association, Chinese citizens scored relatively low in environmental consciousness and behavior. The study proves there is ample room for greater public involvement in environmental efforts.

In Nanjing County, Tzu Chi volunteers refrain from talking too much about environmental issues, such as global warming or carbon emissions. Local citizens are generally lacking in environmental awareness, so such talk just doesn’t garner much attention. Instead, Tzu Chi volunteers encourage people to engage in recycling to “keep their families from stepping on broken glass and getting hurt,” or “to clean up the neighborhood.” Another approach is to emphasize that the proceeds from recycling can be used to help the needy. It is a much more effective way of promoting environmental protection.

One year ago, there were only 20 recycling volunteers in Nanjing County. Today, that number has doubled. By participating in recycling drives, the volunteers have come to cherish things more, moderate their lifestyles, and change their consumption habits.

"There is no real garbage, only misplaced resources.” This is a motto for everyone engaging in recycling. Through their actions, the volunteers are telling everyone: Waste glass can be garbage, but it can also be a precious resource; it all depends on how you look at it.

Day in and day out, these dedicated volunteers are working hard to build up their community, making it more earth-friendly and a better place to live.

By Li Wei-huang
Translated by Wu Hsiao-ting
Photographs by Yan Lin-zhao


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.

" When walking, as we step one foot forward, we lift the other foot up. In the same way, we should let go of yesterday and focus on today. "
Jing-Si Aphorism

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