With the shifting of Tzu Chi Singapore’s location from the heart of Chinatown to Pasir Ris in the east in 2005, the promotion of environmental protection activities have also started to spread into the surrounding heartland. This advocating of recyclable classification has been an important topic in Tzu Chi’s door-to-door promotion within the neighbourhood.
The ongoing recycling effort by Tzu Chi volunteers is well supported by the grassroots organization and residents. The main recycling station which used to be at the Foundation's chapter house at 9, Elias Road was where many residents bring their bag loads of recyclables to. Many also joined the volunteers in sorting the items to enable easier recycling process.
After the recycling station stopped operation in May 2011, East Zone volunteers started to search for possible location to continue the promotion and work of recycling. In August, the volunteers started discussions with Pasir Ris Zone '14' RC and after two months of planning and preparation, the new recycling point located at Block 605, Elias Road was finally launched on 9 October 2011.
At the break of dawn that day, volunteers living in Pasir Ris and Tampines started to gather at Block 605. Thanks to their hard work, the empty void deck was quickly transformed into a full-fledged recycling point with various sections as the DA.AI Technology upcycled products display booth, recycling sorting area, and poster board area.
According to volunteer coordinator Sia Chai Hock, before the recycling point was launched, volunteers did two rounds of door-to-door visit to inform residents about the new recycling point. "We had to conduct these visits during weekdays after work, but no one made a fuss," he added.
Residents who used to drop recyclables at the Foundation's chapter house have been anticipating the start of the new recycling point. "Many residents were not used to not being able to recycle their items with Tzu Chi ever since our recycling station was closed. They wanted to continue to donate their recyclables to us so as to protect the environment and contribute to charity," said recycling cadre Kok Chew Har. (Income from selling the recyclable to recycling dealers are channelled into Tzu Chi Singapore's "Seeds of Hope" bursary programme)
Resident Zhong Xiu Ping was very thoughtful to bring a bag of fruits for the volunteers that day. The Block 605 resident said that ever since the recycling station had been discontinued, she had kept all her recyclables hoping that there will be a new Tzu Chi recycling point in the future where she can donate them.
Not only does she frequently recycle, she is also an advocator of environmental protection in her neighbourhood. Her good friend She Lai Zhi visited the recycling point with her that day and was very impressed with the eco garments produced by DA.AI Technology (using recycled PET bottles). She said she would continue to participate in the recycling work every month.
Hard at work at the sorting area was Qiu Mei Lu. The Pasir Ris resident was introduced to the former recycling station by Sister Kwek and had volunteered there for the past two years. After the station was closed, she continued to volunteer at the Tampines recycling point. She also collects recyclables from her neighbours and her husband will help send them to the recycling point.
“With this new recycling point, it will be much convenient for me!” the resident exclaimed with joy. “Recycling is easy – anyone can chip in. You just need to humble yourself (and do your part for the environment)," she concluded poignantly.
Mr David Lau, the chairman of Pasir Ris Zone '14' RC, visited the recycling point and was impressed with the organization of the recycling activity. Through the explanation of Brother Sia, Mr Lau gained a deeper understanding of Tzu Chi’s environmental protection concept.
The day saw a successful launch with as many as 51 volunteers and residents participating in the recycling effort. May this regular activity increase more residents’ environmental awareness and inspire them to start doing their part in protecting our Mother