News (2006-2016) News 2010 News Weekend Recycling Day Kicks Off

Weekend Recycling Day Kicks Off

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Tzu Chi's Jing Si Hall at Pasir Ris not only serves as a spiritual home for its volunteers, but is also a cultivation ground to attract service-minded individuals. Therefore, keeping it clean and tidy is everybody’s responsibility. Starting from November 2010, volunteers from three regions of Singapore take turns to do recycling sorting at the recycling station at Jing Si Hall's backyard. 95 volunteers and members of the public living in the East spearheaded the newly implemented initiative on 7 Nov.

Volunteers from three zones take turns to carry out recycling sorting at Jing Si Hall 's recycling station, while maintaining the cleanliness of the place. (Photos by Lim Chee Wah)

After her neighbour invited her to do recycling at Jing Si Hall, Chen Ping (left), hoping to set a good example for her children, started to collect and sort recyclables at home.(Photos by Lim Chee Wah)
After receiving the SMS notification, Lin Yu Hua brought along her good friends to take part in the weekend recycling activity. She reckoned that her environmental knowledge has improved having participated in Tzu Chi's recycling work. (Photos by Lim Chee Wah)
With the adept hands of the volunteers, the recyclables were neatly separated and readied to be sold off to the recycling dealers the next day. (Photos by Lim Chee Wah)

On the beautiful Sunday morning of 7 Nov, even before the clock struck 9am, people started to congregate at the recycling station at the backyard of Jing Si Hall.

Seeing that more people are coming in, Brother See Seng Hwa, committee member of the East Zone recycling committee, addressed the participants: “I am grateful that everyone is willing to come here on a Sunday morning. We are receiving more and more recyclable items from the public here at our recycling station, but unfortunately we don’t have enough daily recycling volunteers to handle this amount of items. Today, we are going to sort out the items accumulated throughout the week to reduce the workload of the daily volunteers.”

What Brother See referred to was Tzu Chi Singapore's new initiative to have weekend recycling with volunteers from East, North and South zones rotating to do sorting on Sundays to lessen the burden of the Monday recycling volunteers.

It was the first time that a weekend recycling activity is being carried out at the zone level. This time, 95 volunteers and residents living in the East Zone, including 10 young children, took part in the recycling work.

After dividing into groups, the volunteers and community residents each took their places in the paper section, plastics section, metal section and etc, and started sorting.

With strength in numbers, all of the recyclables were sorted neatly into separate bags by the diligent participants in less than three hours. The items were scheduled to be sold off to recycling dealers the next day, in exchange for cash to fund Tzu Chi Singapore's “Seeds of Hope” Bursary Programme which assists students in paying for their meals and transportation fees – a meaningful initiative by the Singapore branch to “turn recyclables into gold, and gold into love”.

Resident Lin Yu Hua had managed to enlist eight of her good friends to join her that day after receiving SMS notification from the recycling committee.

“I’m very touched to see the level of cooperation among our participants today and also the amount of effort put in by every one of them. This feels really good!” said Ms Lin.

Besides her friends, Ms Lin too brought along her domestic helper, Angel, that morning. Angel has been sorting the family’s recyclables at home; it wasn’t until that day that Angel realized that waste papers can actually be divided into white office papers and mixed papers, which made her feel that she still has much recycling knowledge to learn.

Angel further enquired for the reason for the segregation, to which Ms Lin got the answer from a volunteer beside her: “The white office papers can be recycled into paper again, so there won’t be a waste of resource. This is one way to protect our Mother Earth.” When Angel found out that the monies earned from selling off the recyclables were used to assist the needy, she was wide-eyed in astonishment.

Chen Ping, who hails from China, started practicing recycling at home after being brought by her neighbour Ke Xiu Hua to volunteer at the Jing Si Hall recycling station some time ago. Her children have been looking forward to visit the place again since their first visit with their mother. “I brought the practice home so that I can set a good example for the kids to learn the methods,” said Mdm Chen.

Three-year-old Zhang Yong Sheng, Chen Ping' son, tagged along his mother to the recycling station that morning. The little boy took a small stool, sat down, and started to tear out the pages from a discarded book. With a cute face and a pair of intelligent eyes, Yong Sheng moved his chubby hands skilfully, weaving through the pages of books and leaflets. The adult volunteers were thoroughly delighted by his adorable actions and expressions.

Since 2006, the Singapore Tzu Chi volunteers had set up 13 recycling points across the island with the help of various grassroots organizations. The aim was to promote collection and sorting of recyclable items, and also to spread environmental awareness to the public. These efforts have gained positive feedbacks throughout the years with the monthly Tzu Chi recycling day, which falls on every second Sunday of the month, became an avenue for Tzu Chi volunteers to be in constant contact with the local communities.

As the years go by, a lot of residents have come to know Tzu Chi through the monthly contact; some came forward to join in the ranks apart from sending in recyclables, and even taking part in other activities of Tzu Chi.

The recycling station at Jing Si Hall has been the "cradle" for the present islandwide recycling points. After renovating and with the addition of posters and a thrift store selling second-hand items, the recycling station is holding even more importance in Tzu Chi's mission in spreading environmental awareness in the Lion City.

The station is open seven days a week with a group of dedicated recycling volunteers working in it everyday. Some of them come five days a week, and some, three; nevertheless, come rain or shine, there would be recycling sorting going on in the station. The staff and volunteers' relentless contribution has also made the recycling station an ideal place for schools and other organizations to learn more about environmental conservation.

As public environmental awareness increases, more and more people are bringing in recyclables to the recycling station. It is an encouraging trend but there is also a need to keep the station clean and tidy in a systematic way. To counter the problem of not having enough daily volunteers, the recycling committee is looking to recruit more long-term recycling volunteers to help out with the sorting to prevent overflowing of recyclable items.

As the first team to take on the new weekend recycling initiative, volunteers of the two sub-groups of East Zone got to know each other better while doing recycling sorting. By working together and exchanging ideas, volunteers can work better in further promoting the idea of environmental conservation to the communities.

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