“We are still short of plastic bottles, let’s get it! Quick!”
“Do you have aluminum cans in your team?”
“Do you need this glass bottle? We can exchange with you.”
Before the start of the Tzu Chi-led workshop, the participants, mostly grassroots leaders, were divided into teams to play an ice-breaking game under the guidance of Tzu Chi recycling cadre Khor Chin Seng. Each team was given different materials and at the end of the game they have to gather 11 types of recyclable, namely ‘bottle’, ‘aluminum can’, ‘paper’, ‘electricity appliance’, ‘fabric’, ‘parts of computer/ communication/consumer electronics products’, ‘metal’, ‘others’, and ‘non-recyclables’ in their team. It was an enjoyable game for everyone as many had a better knowledge of recyclable and non-recyclable items after the game.
Sharing of experience and knowledge
In order to bring North West Community Development Council (NWCDC) closer to its goal of establishing 45 recycling points in the constituency by 2014, the National Environment Agency (NEA) invited Tzu Chi Singapore to share Tzu Chi’s environmental concept and recycling know-how with the grassroots leaders and residents’ committee members in the workshop which took place at the Nee Soon East Community Centre.
Using figures and videos, Brother Khor prompted the participants to contemplate on questions like “What can the human society do to salvage the current situation of global warming and food shortage?”, “What kind of environment do we want to pass on to our children?” and how everyone can make a difference by changing his lifestyle.
The Vice Chairman of Woodlands Citizen Consultative Committees and Women’s Integration Network Council, Mdm Adalene Loh, PBM was also invited to share her touring experience to Tzu Chi’s Neihu Educational Recycling Station in Taipei and her experience working with Tzu Chi Singapore in setting up the recycling point at Woodlands Street 81.
Mr Tang Wen Ying, a member of the Woodlands Residents’ Committee, said that he had benefitted a lot from the workshop and that it shocked him when Brother Khor showed several staggering images of disposed plastic bags and bottles. Then again, he was touched to see photos of elderly and children doing recycling together during the sharing of Mdm Loh. He felt that environmental education should start from the young as “education is very important and knowledge about the environment should be taught to our children so that they learn to take care of Mother Earth from young.”
In addition to doing recycling, Brother Khor also urged everyone to adopt vegetarianism for the sake of the environment. “The grains and water used for livestock rearing could instead be fed to starving people. The lesser the meat-eating community, the lesser carbon will be emitted and the more people we can save.”
The statement certainly struck a deep chord with Lalitha, a long-term vegetarian who was not aware about the environmental impact of vegetarian diet before the workshop.
Showing off her handwritten notes, the member of the Woodlands Residents’ Committee said excitedly: “I am going to collate these information, type them out and email to my relatives, friends and colleagues.”
As someone who likes to cook, Lalitha hopes that she could share her homemade recipes and personal thoughts on vegetarianism with people around. She made an invitation to the Tzu Chi volunteers right then to share in the upcoming ‘Earth Hour’ event in her neighbourhood and even enquired whether she could copy the idea of Tzu Chi’s ‘Veggie Card’ to spur her residents to adopt the diet to help save Mother Earth. The card was designed to serve as a “motivational medium” while cardholders strive to observe 100 vegetarian meals in three months’ time.
Mayor of the North West District Dr Teo Ho Pin appealed to his grassroots leaders to work with Tzu Chi to establish more recycling points in the constituency and at the same time recruit more resident volunteers to support the recycling work. He hopes the idea and concept of green environment could be spread to each household and they would start practicing recycling in their daily life. The Mayor also emphasized that besides learning how to recycle, it is also important to reduce consumption.
At the end of the event, each team was discussing enthusiastically the topics of “How to advocate ‘Recycling @ North West’” and “How to educate and bring more residents together to do recycling”. Hopefully our grassroots leaders in the North West will set an example by putting their minds into implementing recycling in the heartlands so that one day recycling points would spring up gradually around the island and a genuine green city would be created.