News (2006-2016) News 2010 News Foundation Exhibits in Tree Planting Day 2010

Foundation Exhibits in Tree Planting Day 2010

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The first Tree Planting Day in Singapore was held on 7 Nov 1971. The Singaporean government started promoting the cause as an annual event in November 1990. In ten years’ time from 1997 to 2007, national vegetation rate saw a prominent increase from 36% to 47%.

On the opening ceremony of this year's Clean and Green Week, Tzu Chi was one of the 40 NGOs present in the event.

Minister Mentor Mr Lee Kuan Yew waving to the Tzu Chi volunteers when he passed by the Foundation’s booth. (Photo: Chai Yu Leong)

Tzu Chi Foundation is proud to participate in this year’s Tree Planting Day. (Photo: Chai Yu Leong)
A volunteer introducing the creative recycling method formula to a resident. (Photo: Chai Yu Leong)
Even the children were attracted by the PET-turned-fabric displays. (Photo: Chai Yu Leong)
Ms Indranee Raja, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, admiring the PET fabrics. (Photo: Khor Kim Seng)
Tzu Chi volunteers warmly welcome MM Lee and his entourage. (Photo: Khor Kim Seng)
Resident Li Yong Sheng listening to a volunteer’s introduction on Tzu Chi’s eco-friendly products. (Photo: Chai Yu Leong)
Volunteers playing their part in keeping the site litter-free. (Photo: Chai Yu Leong)

The idea of setting aside a day to plant trees originated in the United States.

In the 1800s, concern grew about rapid deforestation of the United States. It was Julius Sterling Morton, editor of the Nebraska City News, who persuaded his state to make 10 April 1872 a tree-planting holiday called "Arbor Day". The practice gradually spread to other states and today, most states in the United States observe Arbor Day on the last Friday in April.

In 1990, Singapore’s 20th Tree Planting Day was held on 4 Nov; it also launched the nation’s first Clean and Green Week. Initially called the Good Environment Week, then Prime Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong launched the green campaign to expand the scope of Tree Planting Day with tree-planting activities remaining an important element of Clean and Green Week till today.

Which side will win?

This year’s Tree Planting Day fell on 13 Nov 2010.

At around 5pm, scores of Kim Tian West residents began congregating at Membina Court at Block 27, Jalan Membina which quickly filled the venue with much festive mood. In addition to stage shows, food stalls, children's colouring activities, and inflatable recreation facilities, a number of charitable organizations and environmental groups were also invited to set up exhibits at the scene, with Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore Branch) being one of them.

When the residents came near to see what Tzu Chi’s booth has to offer, the volunteers greeted their guests and popped them a question: “The match of environmental conservation versus waste creation is like a tug of war between good and evil. Which side do you think has bigger odds of winning?”

Guess what, many hesitated in answering. Let’s think of an analogy closer to our heartland: if you think about how Singaporeans produce 17,000 tons of waste per day, a figure equivalent to the weigh of 850 double-deckers, and how the recycling volunteers and residents dedicated their time and energy working at Tzu Chi’s islandwide recycling points every month, which side do you think will dominate our environmental trend?

“The one with majority of people will,” the volunteers told the residents. It also meant that we should not belittle our individual effort to save the environment.

Singapore Tzu Chi volunteers have been practicing waste recycling more than a decade ago. Among which the recycling of paper has accumulated to over two million kilograms, which is equivalent to saving over 55,000 20-year-old trees!

The exhibits at the Tree Planting Day event is the best testimony of “many drops of water make a river” with the display of an array of eco-shirt, eco-blanket, eco-scarf, eco-tote bag and other types of Da Ai Technology textiles, all made from recycled PET bottles collected and segregated in the 4500 recycling stations in Taiwan and shredded into polyester resins which are spun into yarn and woven into all kinds of fabrics.

"What a tremendous creation – reducing waste on one hand, and making useful things out of it on the other – this is total amazement," said resident, Devendram. Devendram previously thought that environmental conservation is nothing but just recycling paper, plastic bottles, and glass bottles. Now, he clearly knows it’s more than that. The resident even said that in addition to practicing in daily lives, sharing the know-how with others is also very important.

"We may spread to two or three people today, tomorrow they’ll pass them on to a dozen more people, gradually we’ll gain more support!" How true that is.

Every little makes a mickle

Besides the public, the exhibits also piqued the curiosity of many ministers and members of the Parliament who were present at the event.

Ms Indranee Raja, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, stopped for a while at the booth to view the displays and gave her praise especially to the PET fabrics invention. She later proceeded to the eco-utensils display area and laid her eyes on the reusable chopsticks. The variety of the colours and types – the switch-blade type, the screw-on type, and the fit-with-click type – left the MP in much awe. “These are perfect for Christmas gifts!” enthused Ms Raja, who then bought ten pairs of chopsticks to give to her family and friends during Christmas.

Ms Chow Hoy Fong, Chairman of Kim Tian West RC told the volunteers that "MM Lee and our government leaders are very happy seeing that you are doing more than just recycling. Your system is very well-organized. Actually, (one of our ministers) asked about you in our meetings. He asked if we had invited Tzu Chi, and I said ‘Yes!’"

The Tree Planting Day is an important segment of the Clean & Green Singapore campaign since its inauguration in 1990. Held in every November, the event aims to encourage islandwide tree-planting and to spur everyone to work together to build a beautiful Singapore.

Tzu Chi Foundation was very proud to have earned recognition of the grassroots leaders and being invited to this year’s event at Kim Tian West.

Of the 71 volunteers who were present, half of them took up the task of keeping the site litter-free. They divided themselves into groups and with a trash bag in one hand and a pair of tongs in the other, started going around the event site collecting litter. Nothing, including cigarette butts, escaped their sharp eyes.

A resident named Li Yong Sheng, summed it all for the volunteers’ effort: “Every one of us has to put in our effort, especially in such dire time when the planet is sending us alarming signals. We need more people to act now and act quick. We also need plenty of propaganda to get every citizen to do their part.”

Therefore, never underestimate our own strength, and never overlook our small action. Even if it is a small step forward, it may eventually grow into a global movement. So let's play our part in conserving the environment. Be our Earth’s gardener – love our Earth just like how we love ourselves!

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