News (2006-2016) News 2010 News Earnest Community Response in Woodlands Community Day

Earnest Community Response in Woodlands Community Day

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Be it the Guest of Honour Mr Khaw Boon Wan, the recycling dealer, or the local residents, all patrons to the booth of Tzu Chi at the Woodlands Community Day showed earnest concern over the planet's peril situation. The event gave the Singapore Tzu Chi volunteers a boost as they strive to increase environmental awareness in the heartlands.

Minister for Health and Guest of Honour, Mr Khaw Boon, and Ms Ellen Lee, MP for Sembawang GRC and Advisor for Woodlands Constituency, were shown by the Tzu Chi volunteers how plastic bottles could be transformed into fabrics. (Photos by Tan Paik Hui)

Many residents stayed back to listen to the volunteers’ explanation while coming to exchange their used water/glass bottles for gifts.(Photos by Tan Paik Hui)
Avid resident Mdm Xie Xiu Ying paying attention to a volunteer.(Photos by Tan Paik Hui)
The plastic bottles brought in by the residents were stamped before they were recycled. Reason? To save storage space.(Photos by Tan Paik Hui)
Mr David Lee, marketing executive of P&R Resource, feeling the texture of the eco-blanket.(Photos by Tan Paik Hui)
Mdm Lalitha listening to the volunteers’ explanation on Tzu Chi’s recycling concept.(Photos by Tan Paik Hui)
The PET-turned-fabric technology impressed a lot of the residents who dropped by Tzu Chi’s booth.(Photos by Tan Paik Hui)

“Many residents have told me that the Kampong spirit at Sembawang and Woodland are strong,” noted the Minister for Health and MP for Sembawang GRC, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, in his written message for the Woodlands Community Day event.

“By that they mean: neighbours know one another; neighbours help one another in marketing when one is unable to; and neighnours take part in activities together,” wrote Mr Khaw. “Many have been neighbours and friends for decades in their previous kampong and after resettlement into HDB apartment, the Kampong spirit is being passed on to the next generation as the children move out but into nearby HDB estates. This is what makes Sembawang and Woodland truly special!”

Held on 31 October from 8.00am to 4.00pm, this year’s Woodlands Community Day saw scores of businesses and organizations exhibiting their products and works at the open field beside Causeway Point. Themed to promote social harmony, the event boasted a great variety of programmes presented by various racial groups.

Tzu Chi Foundation was also invited to promote environmental and recycling awareness in the event, all thanks to the recommendation by the constituency’s Women’s Integration Network, which hoped to enhance community cohesion by engaging residents in community recycling work.

When Mr Khaw and Ms Ellen Lee, MP for Sembawang GRC and Advisor for Woodlands Constituency, visited Tzu Chi’s educational eco booth, they were shown how used materials like plastic bottles could be transformed into blankets and garments. Both were very impressed with the technology developed by Tzu Chi’s entrepreneurial arm. Mr Khaw also gave his praise for Tzu Chi volunteer’s enthusiasm and dedication in environmental efforts.

Indeed, the volunteers’ disciplined manner was rather distinct in the bustling site. Many residents came by to take part in the Foundation’s joint programme with the organizer where they can exchange their used water/glass bottles for a free gift at its booth.

While receiving the items, the volunteers seized the opportunity to introduce the PET fabrics to the residents. They explained to them how the PET bottles were collected and segregated in the 4500 recycling stations in Taiwan and shredded into polyester resins which are spun into yarn and woven into materials like shirts, baby shoes, tote bags, plush blankets and etc. The volunteers also highlighted several green living tips and urged the residents to start making lifestyle changes to help reduce carbon emissions.

“So 12 to 15 of these bottles can be transformed into a shirt, and there’re many more items that can be recycled and reused? I’m going home now and I will come back with these recyclables for you later,” said a lady who felt compelled to join the recycling force after visiting Tzu Chi’s booth. The volunteers were extremely encouraged by the resident’s response.

And she was not the only one. Mdm Xie Xiu Ying, who came to the event purposely for its briskwalking activity, was surprised when a volunteer told her that the eco-products she was touching was made from 100% recycled fibres produced from Taiwan. While expressing amazement to the volunteer’s explanation on Tzu Chi’s PET bottles segregation method, Mdm Xie expressed that she used to heed the government’s recycling campaign sorting her recyclables at home and bringing them to the recycling station below her HDB flat but stopped doing so after the station ceased operation due to poor response.

“I feel bad every time I throw away the plastic bottles. Now that I know you are turning them into clothes and blankets to save people, I’m so glad and happy!”  Mdm Xie even signed up to be a donating member of Tzu Chi and urged the volunteers to keep her posted on the Foundation’s recycling activities. She also made several recommendations to the volunteers on how to better encourage the public to recycle. The volunteers were happy to have recruited such an avid environmental supporter.

Another resident who showed similar interest to Tzu Chi’s recycling concept was Mdm Lalitha. The Sikh resident first came into contact with the Foundation during its tri-monthly blood donation drive at Jurong Medical Centre and had since wished to learn more about its philosophy. Realizing Tzu Chi’s presence in the Community Day event, she quickly came forth to find out from the volunteers on how to sort recyclables at home and jotted down the address of Tzu Chi’s Admiralty recycling point at Block 682B, Woodlands Drive 62. Before leaving, the resident, who hoped to enlist her family to start recycling, kept telling the volunteers to remind her prior to Tzu Chi’s recycling day (every second Sunday) next month so that she won’t miss the opportunity to engage her whole family in learning recycling sorting.

Next to Tzu Chi’s booth was P&R Resource, a waste management company owned by P.U.M Group of Malaysia which deals with silica sand and cullet processing. Mr David Lee, its marketing executive, came to view Tzu Chi’s display and shared with the volunteers the recycling rate of glass in Singapore is still lower than other resources as only a few groups are willing to collect used glass bottles for glass recyclers. He pointed out that to make one ton of glass, 1.2 tons of raw materials are needed, but if recycled glass are used, not only silica sands could be preserved, it will also reduce 315 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.

It was for this reason that the P.U.M Group actively participates in various government environmental campaign, hoping that more people can respond to the glass recycling campaign to reduce the waste of the earth's resources, reduce carbon emissions and reduce pollution, said Mr Lee.

While the volunteers showed Mr Lee around the booth, they were surprised to find that Mr Lee had actually heard of Tzu Chi before. P.U.M’s management staff had previously visited Tzu Chi and is even one of the glass recycling dealers of the Foundation. When the volunteers presented him with Tzu Chi’s magazine before his leaving, Mr Lee paused to browse the contents on the spot and said, “These are all really moving stories. We really appreciate your contribution to the society. Let’s continue to do our best to get more people involved in recycling!”

As Mr Khaw Boon Wan said, every resident’s effort is required for communities to maintain the Kampong spirit. Tzu Chi volunteers living in the north are also members of the community and are thus obliged to serve and contribute for the good of the community. And one good way is to raise the fellow residents’ environmental awareness to keep Woodlands community clean, green, and harmony – a goal which the Tzu Chi volunteers will continue to strive for.

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