The greater use of 12 PET bottles
As early as eight in the morning, the void decks of HDB flats in Tiong Bahru were bustling with activities – more than 1000 residents were attracted to the programmes on the stage, the range of food stalls, recreational facilities, and an exhibition area set up by Tzu Chi volunteers to promote environmental awareness and responsibility.
Although no bigger than half the size of a badminton court, the exhibition area offered variety and substance. Among the displays, the eco textiles developed by Da Ai Technology Co. Ltd. attracted the most attention. From the video screening the production processes, members of the public found it incredible that the eco vest, eco blanket and other woven products were produced from post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate bottles (commonly referred to as PET) after further refining and processing.
"You mean 12 PET bottles are sufficient to make a shirt like that?” People were amazed that what they considered as trash and regularly thrown away actually has such wonderful application.
In fact, 12 recycled PET bottles can make a 200gm shirt and 61 PET bottles can weave a 180x150cm blanket. Recycle and remake PET bottles into textiles not only prolongs the useful life of materials but also helps to conserve energy. When second hand materials are used in repeated production, the required energy is half of what raw materials would consume. Imagine the savings and the impact on energy use!
When Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, visited the exhibition area later that morning, he was equally intrigued by the wisdom of ‘transforming uselessness to usefulness’ after being briefed about the eco-textile technology. “Can this really keep warm?” PM Lee asked curiously while feeling the texture of the eco blanket. The volunteers assured the Prime Minister, to which he kept nodding in acknowledgement.
The data and information displayed at the event were not only for improving the knowledge of conservation among the residents but to convey the important message that it is everybody’s duty to protect the environment. More so because the occurrence of natural disaster is intimately related to conservation effort – earthquakes, floods, droughts, hurricanes... the numerous disasters we are experiencing today are after all the consequences of man’s incessant exploitation of the environment.
One resident, Nisha, commented that after watching all the images of disasters through news on TV, she had thought of but did not know how to contribute her effort. Now that she had discovered through Tzu Chi volunteers the relationship between disasters and conversation work, she realized that she could be helpful simply by making personal effort to protect the environment.
Lessons from inconspicuous trash
In addition to organizing the exhibition, around 30 Tzu Chi volunteers were seen among the crowd, donned in white caps and gloves, each with a trash bag on one hand and a pair of tongs in the other, surveying the site intently. Be it paper, plastic cup or smaller items like cotton buds and cigarette butts, they would bend down to pick them up, ensuring 'no trash is grounded' at the event site. Nothing escaped their sharp eyes.
According to volunteer coordinator Tan Suzan, the objective of the “Litter Free Drive” was to, “apart from spreading awareness, show by example and influence others through concrete actions”.
And their effort paid off. When youth volunteer Tai Kai Pik was approached by a resident who showed curiosity about their bending down to lift up rubbish, the youth seized the opportunity to explain the motive and ushered the resident to the exhibition area to brief him more. She also enlisted the resident to take action by participating in Tzu Chi’s community recycling activity.Kai Pik shared her observation that Singapore might be a very clean city but she had discovered that day through the “Litter Free Drive” that there will still be smaller items which might have left unnoticed, like disposed cotton buds. She likened it to the dust that covers our pure mind, hence the reminder to stay vigilant and attend to our disturbances squarely, regardless of their magnitude.
The exhibition lasted three hours and ended at noon. It is our fervent hope that more would engage in conservation, to protect and care for Mother Earth, and to purify our mind at all times.
By Chan Moh Boon, Ng Jia Han & Low Hai Loon
Translated by Chee Wai Yee
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