Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Sep 27th
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Home Our Missions Environmental Protection Garbage in Paradise - An expanding program

Garbage in Paradise - An expanding program

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An expanding program
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An expanding program
In addition to the scheduled pickups, the volunteers added a new program that would blanket a whole community once a month.

One Sunday morning, a small group of Tzu Chi volunteers started working from the top floor of a 17-story building. They knocked on doors and asked residents for recyclable items. Then they placed what they received near the central stairwell before knocking on other doors down the hall. Another group of volunteers worked near the stairwell, consolidating the heaps of trash and taking them down the stairs and out to waiting trucks. When they had finished one floor, they moved down and worked the floor below.

That scene is typical of the once-a-month recycling day program that Tzu Chi volunteers undertake to collect recyclable trash from people's homes. If a family has not started recycling, the volunteers use the occasion to discuss the reasons why recycling is crucial to the earth.

The monthly recycling days are being gradually introduced to more communities. As new sources and volunteer workers come online, Tzu Chi's recycling program has been gathering strength year by year.

"Many people sort out their garbage and keep it in their homes for us to collect, even though their homes don't have much space," said Teoh. "I can't help feeling moved by those people. It is people like them who propel me to work even harder at recycling. We are also most grateful to the companies who not only buy the recyclable trash from us but also provide trucks on recycling days to haul it away."

Other keys to success
Although people are willing to keep their sorted items at home until the monthly collection by Tzu Chi volunteers, many of their houses quickly fill up, forcing the residents to forgo saving the recyclables for the remainder of the month--a lost opportunity to reclaim more trash. Furthermore, houses full of trash invariably cause some inconvenience even to the most devoted participants. "To minimize the trouble for the residents, it is imperative that we remove those items from people's homes as soon as possible," noted Teoh.

So he went on a detail planning and scheduling campaign and initiated a new collection schedule. As a result, every day there are volunteers collecting from people's homes on scheduled routes. This is a wonderful idea all the way around. First, people's homes are now visited, perhaps not daily, but certainly more frequently than just once a month. Therefore people can clean out the clutter sooner and free up space in their homes for more new recyclables. Second, spread throughout the month, the daily collection scheme can enable more volunteers to work around their scheduling conflicts and take part in the recycling program. More volunteers are participating in collecting more recyclables, possibly from more people's homes.

Still, some potential volunteers were left out of this process, especially people who worked during the day. To accommodate their needs, Tzu Chi added evening hours, from six to nine, to its recycling program.

Siow Eik Kwang (蕭益光) is an active member of the evening program. During the day, he is a manager at an electronics company. However his heavy workload during the day hasn't slowed him down a bit in the evenings when he puts on his Tzu Chi volunteer uniform and drives a pickup truck to collect recyclable trash at people's homes. On Saturdays, he also pushes a cart around the grounds of the Bukit Jambul Shopping Center and collects recyclables from merchants or picks things up from the floor.

"When I am off work, I spend most of my free time doing recycling. I used to play tennis. Now recycling has replaced tennis as an exercise of a more consequential kind," Siow said. He should know. He is an ex-scout who has always loved the outdoors and appreciates the significance of sustainable human behaviors. However, once he started his working career, he found it very difficult to get involved in activities that could help preserve the environment. "Now, as I do recycling, I add up the kilos of carbon dioxide that I am keeping out of the atmosphere. It gives me a nice sense of accomplishment and satisfaction."


The Beauty of the Jing Si Abode


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Jing-Si Aphorism