On 24 March 2018, Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) was invited to participate in the “Just-One-Earth Day” eco-carnival at Our Tampines Hub. The event was organised by the North East Community Development Council.
Through many years of ongoing efforts in creating environmental awareness in the community, Tzu Chi has gradually gained recognition and support from the government sector and other Green movement organisations. Hence, the Foundation is often invited to promote environmental conservation in various public events.
Tzu Chi volunteers at the carnival conducted interactive games and live demonstrations designed to create public awareness that many of the common disposable items that we use in our daily lives are, in fact, recyclable. These demonstrations, whose target audience was students and parents, included turning plastic bottles into self-watering planters and old clothes into shopping bags, making cleaning enzymes using fruit peels, etc.
Apart from various hands-on and interactive activities, there was also a story-telling session that captivated the attention of young children. A “wishing tree” was set up at the venue for members of the public to make their pledge to protect Mother Earth with solid actions.
After learning that the participants of the event were mostly primary school students, Tzu Chi volunteers created many fun and interesting games to promote recycling and environmental protection to the children and their parents. This allowed the young ones to have a greater sense of participation.
At Tzu Chi’s eco-education booth, a big card was placed on the table, with a picture showing a green trash bin and a blue recycling bin. The children were first asked to sort a stack of item cards into two categories: "recyclable" or "non-recyclable". The other side of the card was printed with Tzu Chi’s “Ten-Finger Mnemonic”, a formula for remembering different types of recyclables, such as plastic bottles, glass bottles, aluminum cans, metal containers, papers, batteries, clothes, etc. Under the patient guidance of helpful volunteers, the kids further sorted the item cards according to the guidelines provided.
Kang Joo Huat, the volunteer who designed this game, shared that it consisted of two levels, and its purpose was to instill the values of environmental protection into the young minds of children, as this would benefit them throughout their lifetime. Children who were interested to know how recyclables were actually being sorted were welcome to visit a Tzu Chi recycling point, where they could learn more about environmental practices. The activity had attracted the participation of many children, and after completing the game, each child was given a stamp on the back of their hand as an affirmation and encouragement.
10-year-old Zheng Ting Ting found the game very fun and educational. She said that she would teach her younger brother and sister what she had learned from the game after she returned home, so that they could all start practising recycling. Her mother, Fan Xue Mei, commented that the activity was very meaningful, because children who learned how to recycle since young would not simply throw away old items after they bought new ones.
Nivitha, who hails from India and is staying near to Our Tampines Hub, is a homemaker. She usually stayed at home and hardly went out. But this day, she brought her 3-year-old daughter, Darshini, to the event, and together, they visited every booth there. This was the first time that she was participating in a community event in Singapore, and she was very glad to learn how to save electricity and reduce the usage of plastic bags at the eco-carnival.
Tampines GRC MP and the mayor of North East District, Mr. Desmond Choo, said that the objective of having the eco-carnival was to engage children in recycling at a young age so that they would learn to treasure Earth's limited natural resources. He added that our children were the ones who would inherit this planet, and that it was heartening to see the young ones influencing the habits of their parents and grandparents at home, inspiring the latter to take action to protect Earth.
Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Dr. Amy Khor, who was a Guest-of-Honour at the event, said that Singapore has designated 2018 as the Year of Climate Action, and this was a national initiative to raise public awareness of the impact of climate change. Starting from 1st April 2018, the government will offer grants of up to $5,000 to NGOs and grassroots organisations that plan and organise “green” events or “climate action initiatives”.
She highlighted in her speech that, it is imperative to increase public awareness about the need to take climate action through simple daily efforts, such as reducing food waste, curbing the use of plastics, conserving energy, and using less water when taking a shower.