On the morning of 14th September, the Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre was buzzing with people and activity. Situated at the heart of Yishun, the Youth Centre welcomed some 130 members from Youth Corps Singapore on this day. Clad in red t-shirts, the youths were there for an environmental event, “Greener Together!”, which was organised by Youth Corps in response to Singapore’s Towards Zero Waste Year designated by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.
The event comprised a series of activities, including environmental talks, a hands-on session to make ecobricks, and a visit to the Tzu Chi Eco Awareness Centre. It aimed to allow participants to learn about the various facets of environmental challenges facing our planet and how they could play a part in environmental protection.
Aged 18 to 35, the large group of youths brought a lively cheer to the Humanistic Youth Centre. The emcee of the event said that Youth Corps Singapore was honoured to be the “first user” of the newly opened Humanistic Youth Centre and hoped that their youth members would leave footprints of blessings there.
Deputy Director of the Environmental Policy Division at Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources Lee Wei Yang, and Executive Director of Youth Corps Singapore Ong Kah Kuang both commented that the Youth Centre is filled with attraction. They added that its spacious and comfortable environment served as an ideal hangout place for young people in the community to gather and connect with one another.
Tzu Chi’s environmental efforts are recognised by many in Singapore. Ong Kah Kuang believed that the Foundation would continually make good use of the Humanistic Youth Centre and organise more activities that attract young people, so that they would fall in love with the place. He also expressed his hope for Youth Corps to have more collaborative opportunities with the Foundation.
Start the change from ourselves
After the talk, the youths took a bus ride to the Tzu Chi Eco Awareness Centre. Some of them served as docents there, with the help and support of experienced Tzu Chi volunteers. Two weeks prior to this day, a group of 12 Youth Corps members visited the centre to learn how to promote the environmental cause from Tzu Chi volunteers.
“To love the Earth, we must start from ‘Refuse’, the first ‘R’ of the 5Rs. Before buying something, we must think of whether we really need it,” said a youth docent, who spoke untiringly, in the hope of bringing home the message—the 5Rs of sustainability—Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair and Recycle.
A curious youth member inquired why eating meat generates more greenhouse gas than eating vegetables.
The docent patiently explained that forests need to be cleared to create pasture for the livestock industry and that moreover, sheep and cattle release vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more potent at trapping heat than is carbon dioxide.
After visiting the various exhibition zones at the Eco Awareness Centre, the Youth Corps members had a go at sorting recyclables themselves, and discovered that Styrofoam containers, which are made of polystyrene, cannot be recycled.
“Recycling products is time consuming and requires a lot of effort. Therefore, the best way to love the Earth is to Refuse, Reduce and Repair,” said a docent, who encouraged everyone to start the change from themselves, and further influencing their friends and family to do the same.
Senior recycling team leader of Tzu Chi Singapore, Susan Tan, shared that Youth Corps was the first organisation whose members served as guides at the Eco Awareness Centre. She had witnessed the courageous efforts and potential of the youths at the environmental event and hoped that more organisations would come to the centre to learn about environmental protection so that more people could learn how to promote the green cause to others and take action together to protect our planet.