“I’ve participated in many charity runs before, and honestly speaking, I usually wouldn’t wear the Finishers’ T-shirt that was given to me. I always gave it away. In fact, there is no need to manufacture such T-shirts for the runners. One race singlet is good enough for me,” commented a participant of Income Eco Run 2018, which was held on 29 April 2018 at the F1 Pit Building.
“Environmental protection” is not merely a “slogan”. Besides recycling trash, what is even better is to reduce waste at the source. When the Eco Run participants registered to take part in the event, they had already learned how they could play a part in protecting the environment. Among the 9,000 participants of the run this year, there were some 2,000 Zero Waste runners, who declined to receive a Finishers’ T-shirt and a Finishers’ medal, in an attempt to cut down on waste.
Among them was Huang Yi Xiong, who had taken part in many charity runs previously. He commented that a lot of resources were being wasted in such a public event, and that many of the participants had the habit of littering the race grounds. He also revealed that some of his friends would even throw their medals away after the event. Thus, Huang only kept his race singlet and bib as souvenirs this time, and felt completely at ease despite not bringing back the items awarded to Finishers.
Another Zero Waste runner, Xie Pei Yu, brought along her own water bottle while participating in the 21.1km half marathon. Although her hand became a little numb from holding the bottle as she was running, she did not mind that at all and was happy that she could take a sip whenever she felt thirsty.
“Sometimes, we cannot finish the entire cup of water that is given to us and the remaining water will go to waste. If they give us too little water, it won’t be enough for us either. Hence, it’s best to bring our own water. We can drink it anytime we need some,” shared Xie.
Last year, she was quite surprised to see Tzu Chi volunteers collecting safety pins (used to secure the runners’ bibs) for recycling. Seeing how the volunteers treasured even such tiny, insignificant items, she gave her safety pins to them on her own accord after finishing the run this year.
Starting from August last year, Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) had been corresponding with the organiser of the run, to discuss green practices that could be implemented at the event. These included having clearly labelled recycling bins and paper cups half-lined with waterproof plastic, collecting all safety pins for recycling, and a paperless registration process.
When the participants came to collect their runners’ packs two weeks before the event, Tzu Chi volunteers were present to advocate the Zero Waste concept and encourage people to incorporate environmental practices into their daily lives.
Before the event’s commencement, the emcee specially highlighted that this was an “Eco Run”, and urged all the runners to adopt green practices. Many of the participants followed the guidance of Tzu Chi volunteers, putting their trash, such as paper cups, banana peels, plastic containers, aluminum cans, etc. into respective recycling bins.
It was really heartening to see the venue of such a major public event (generally) free of rubbish, with some 9,000 participants making a genuine effort to practise Zero Waste!
A number of the runners had noticed the differences in the recycling efforts at the event this year. A participant who hails from Sweden remarked that the green practices that were implemented were quite special, especially the collection of safety pins and the use of an aluminum can crusher. She said she practised recycling at home too, and chose to use reusable ball-point pens, as a way to conserve resources.
Apart from Tzu Chi, there were also other organisations that helped to promote environmental conservation at the venue. Among them was Shaws Preschool, one of the first play-based preschools in Singapore, which constructed a playground onsite, with recyclables. Zero Waste Singapore, an NGO, highlighted to people that a staggering 2,500 plastic bags were being discarded every three seconds in Singapore, exhorting everyone to use their own shopping bags and reusable utensils, so as to help reduce trash.
At Tzu Chi’s environmental booth, volunteers worked hard to advocate the 5Rs of environmental protection and invited people to take part in the monthly Tzu Chi Recycling Day activities. To support the National Environmental Agency’s Climate Action Pledge, they also invited everyone to pledge to adopt 12 green practices, such as saving water and electricity, avoiding the use of plastic straws, taking public transport, etc. After hearing the earnest explanations by volunteers, many people wrote down the green practices they would adopt on a large board provided, in the hope of doing their bit to reduce carbon footprint and help build a sustainable future.
“After learning about the impact of global warming, how deforestation damages the ecosystem, and how polar bears are threatened by climate change, I feel that I have to play a part in protecting our environment. It has to start from myself. I use a basin to collect water from showers and washing hands for reuse, and will bring along a few shopping bags when I go out. I’ll also use my own container for takeaways,” shared participant Xue Chun Ying.
She has adopted green practices for six years, and hoped that the eco-activities this day would help raise the environmental awareness of people. As more and more people practise environmental protection in their daily lives, our posterity will be able to continue living in a clean and beautiful world.
“How much does a piece of clothing cost? About ten dollars? But do you know how much a kilogram of used clothes is worth? Only 40 cents! If you discard your clothes and the recycling merchant does not collect them, they will pile up as rubbish," explained Lu Xiao Yan (pictured below), a seasoned Tzu Chi recycling volunteer.
She explained Tzu Chi’s environmental concept of “being clean at the source” to the masses, stressing that besides recycling trash, it is even more important to reduce consumption at the outset by making smarter and fewer purchases. An Indian participant was so moved by her talk that he quickly asked his family members to come and listen to her as well. And he even planned to visit a Tzu Chi recycling point to learn more about environmental protection.
Throughout the 4-hour event, Tzu Chi volunteers stood under the scorching sun to guide people to recycle their trash as well as actively promoted environmental conservation at the eco-booth, with the common goal of encouraging more people to take action to protect our planet.