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Every One of Us Can Contribute to a Green and Sustainable Future

Before the race, young runners received bib numbers made of seed paper that can be planted. After finishing, they returned these bib numbers with a paperclip for reuse in the following year. At the finish line, food packaging were recycled, and single-use utensils were avoided. Coupled with engaging environmental education initiatives, every aspect integrated a mindset of carbon reduction, calling on runners to prioritise sustainability through their actions.

 (Photo by Pua Poo Toong)

"Three, two, one! Beep—"

Early before dawn, the loudspeaker echoed across Marina Barrage as batches of runners set off from the starting point. Each step the participants took in the Income Eco Run 2024 was not only towards the finish line but also a stride towards the "zero waste" goal. Held on 26 May 2024 at Marina Barrage, the event saw over 5,000 participants. Tzu Chi volunteers, invited for the fifth time as partners, were instrumental in recycling resources used during the marathon and setting up an eco-village at the finish line to educate participants on environmental conservation.

(Photo by Chua Chin Kah)

The volunteers utilised their experience from hosting previous eco-friendly charity fairs and replicated it at the marathon venue, aligning these actions with the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to the recycling area and environmental advocacy that are present each year, they added a vegetarian zone, a gaming education area, a compassionate technology exhibition area, and a humanistic cultural promotion zone.

One of the most notable features on-site was the well-organised and clean dishwashing area. To achieve comprehensive green environmental protection, the food area strictly avoided using disposable utensils. Volunteers at the dishwashing area meticulously cleaned each utensil before returning it to the food stalls for reuse.

(Photo by Puah Poo Toong)

"Each booth is fantastic, but the dishwashing area impressed me the most. This is the first time we've had such an arrangement at a running event. We were inspired by Tzu Chi's Festive Charity Fair, where we saw the volunteers' 'zero waste' spirit, and we believe that green events are completely achievable," praised Ben Wee, the race organiser. He acknowledged that although setting up the dishwashing area was not easy, Tzu Chi overcame the challenges to support the goal of a green run.

(Photo by Fong Kwai Kin)

"The organisers specifically came to observe the Tzu Chi charity fair for two years. After gaining a deeper understanding, they agreed with Tzu Chi's environmental philosophy. After years of collaboration, this year, they entrusted the entire environmental advocacy section at the finish line to Tzu Chi, which was a significant breakthrough," Susan Tan, manager of Tzu Chi Environmental Sustainability Department, excitedly stated. This year, approximately 180 Tzu Chi volunteers contributed to the event, each passionately sharing environmental concepts at the venue, urging everyone to start protecting the Earth with practical actions.

Susan Tan, manager of Tzu Chi Environmental Sustainability Department (front row, first from left), sharing with Dr. Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Senior Minister of State for Sustainability (front row, second from left), about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals covered by this year's event. (Photo by Pua Poo Toong)

"Did you know? A few months ago, when the earthquake hit Hualien, the disaster victims stayed in the tents we see here? Along with these Jing Si Foldable Beds and eco blankets, all made from the PET bottles in our hands!" Volunteers guided the public into the tents to experience the warmth brought by Tzu Chi’s compassionate technology to disaster victims. This also helped the public understand that recycling PET bottles not only saves the planet but can also save lives.

(Photo by Chua Chin Kah)

Agreeing with the environmental concept and the idea of running for a good cause, participant Li Lan Ying and her friends decided to run together. Li Lan Ying shared that they usually emphasise eco-friendly practices in daily life, such as bringing their reusable tableware and using public transportation. She vowed, "From now on, I will eat less meat and do more for the environment. It may be a bit more troublesome, but we hope to make a big difference with small efforts."

The Compassionate Technology Station also featured a "Pledge Station," where participants could commit to contributing to the planet and share their pledges on social media. The theme of the pledge station was "Live gently, tread lightly," encouraging people to use public transportation and reusable containers when taking food to go.

(Photo by Pua Poo Toong)

This year, the organisers introduced a creative twist: the children's bib numbers were made from seed paper instead of regular paper. After the event, children could tear up their bib numbers, plant the pieces in soil, and water them regularly to grow plants, giving the bib numbers a second life.

"It's fantastic! It teaches children that not everything has to be thrown away after use; it can be recycled," said Lim Su Hua, who participated in the run with her family of four, expressing strong agreement with the organisers' dedication to environmental issues.

Lim Su Hua (left) brought her children to participate in the run and praised the idea of using seed paper for the bib numbers, appreciating the clever concept of giving a single item a dual purpose. (Photo by Foong Kwai Kin)

Lim Su Hua shared that her mother was a pioneer in environmental protection. Even when environmental awareness was not as widespread as today, her mother cherished resources and practised reusing items, which profoundly influenced her. She said, "It takes a long time for people to accept the concept of environmental protection. My father still doesn't fully agree, often questioning how much difference saving a piece of paper can make. But my mother would say, 'If everyone could save one paper bag, it could change the world.'"

(Photo by Chua Chin Kah)

In the educational game zone, volunteers made concerted efforts to create a relaxed atmosphere where children and adults could reflect on environmental issues. Key topics included fast fashion, marine pollution, vegetarianism, and the 5R concept of environmental protection.

Influenced by her mother, Lim Su Hua has become an eco-warrior herself, teaching her children about recycling from an early age. She observed that her two children thoroughly enjoyed the play area, remarking, "The concept of the play area is fantastic. Children are eager to engage and learn through play, leaving a profound impression on their hearts."