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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Friday, 26 September 2014 00:00

Teenagers Take Up Recycling

Written by  By Yen Yu Chu, Melaka / Translated by Chew Chiau Ping

Under the blazing sun, the group is digging for “treasure”, not leaving out the rubbish bin. [Photograph by Goh Ah Lian]

If it was not for the opportunities to do recycling, this group of teenagers in Machap Baru New Village will probably be spending their leisure time playing video games, watching movie, playing sports or perhaps sleeping. Now, instead of spending time on those activities, they have brought changes to the village.


 

The moment one steps into Machap Baru Nursing Home, a group of teenagers can be seen discussing the arrangement of the recycling route enthusiastically. “How shall we distribute the route? One group will go to the park and another group will go to the school? Shall we go in a group instead? Or, shall we break into groups to cover more areas?” Those are the typical discussions taking place between these Form One and Form Two teenagers when they meet every Saturday evening at 6.
 
 
It all started three years ago when Zhang Ze Hong was still a Primary Five student. He attended the Tzu Chi Parent-child Bonding Class where he soon realized the importance of recycling. The passion of the granny from the “Granny Bottle” story in protecting the Earth inspired him to start recycling along the street in the village. Whenever he was riding the motorcycle with his mother, he would be looking around for recyclables to pick up. Zhang has carried on with this routine throughout the years; and he is now in Form One.
 
 
Good intention has flourished
 
 
Zhang equates recycling to his love for Mother Earth. While the Earth is still rotating, one does not stop recycling, otherwise it would be flooded with trash. His faith in Master Cheng Yen’s teaching that “Recycling cannot be one person less” has pushed his recycling effort even further, from his family, to friends and subsequently to the entire village.
 
 
In January 2013, Tzu Chi set up a community recycling station in Machap Baru Nursing Home. Zhang then invited his friend, Hou Han Qing, to sort recyclables once a month on Recycling Day. Since then, the recycling group has grown larger gradually.
 
 
In 2014, as Zhang attends secondary school outside Machap Baru, he could no longer pick up recyclables along the way to school. At the same time, the once-a-month Recycling Day cannot fulfil his passion for recycling. Then in July 2014, a group of teachers and students from Hualien Tzu Chi High School visited Machap Baru Nursing Home and the recycling station. A volunteer shared Zhang’s story and his action receives affirmation from the group. This prompted Zhang to invite his friend, Hou Han Qing, to resume collecting recyclables along the street. The latter felt that the monthly recycling is not sufficient, so he gathered a group of friends and started recycling once a week in the neighbourhood.
 
 
Zhang, a quiet person, started recycling alone with a simple intention to protect the Earth. Today, the group has grown to approximately 10 persons. He happily said, “It is better to do recycling with more people, myself alone is not enough.”
 
 
Team power push for greater effort
 
 
In recalling the earlier days of recycling, Zhang said, “We felt very shy. Once, someone threw rubbish in front of us on purpose, and some kids called us names, such as, ‘rubbish king’, ‘rubbish cleaner’, ‘rubbish worm’, and so on.” Initially, the group was disconcerted by these harsh remarks. Dai Zu Yao, one of the group members, said calmly, “We felt sad the first time we heard those words, but we chose to ignore them as they don’t understand recycling. We just have to keep going.”
 
 
Though unhappy, the group members comforted and supported each other, and eventually they are able to put the negative views behind them. As long as the rubbish thrown intentionally can be recycled, they will not hesitate to pick them up. Han Qing said firmly, “Recycling is a good deed and it saves the Earth. Therefore, it is everyone’s duty to recycle. And now I understand this principle even better after I started recycling myself.”
 
 
Recalling those past experiences, and despite the negative encounters, they do not find much difficultly along the journey, as observed from the happiness and confidence written on their faces.
 
 
Effort is recognized and confidence has doubled
 
 
Under the blazing sun, this group of teenagers can be seen digging for “treasure” with their bodies drenched in sweat. One day, a villager recorded their act by chance and shared it on Facebook (an online social networking platform). Soon the news spread and it was even reported in the newspaper. This recognition has encouraged them to continue recycling. Zhang and the group agreed that, “We are proud that our effort is recognized by everyone and our parents have been very supportive.”
 
 
Now, whenever the recycling group is on the street, passersby of all ages are seen giving their thumbs-up to encourage the group. All negative encounters experienced in the past had disappeared. Their passion and persistence in doing recycling are getting more and more recognition.
 
 
Along the street, the group receives smiles and praises from the villagers. Some even provide them with drinks and fruits. As time goes by, the passionate villagers have bonded strongly with this group of youngsters.
 
 
Villagers are led to recycle for a cleaner environment
 
 
Upon seeing the recycling group on the street, some villagers would invite them to collect recyclables from their houses. A villager, Dai Mei said, “They are good kids. Now, whenever I am outside and come across item that can be recycled, I will bring it home.” A 78-year-old grandma, who has also invited the group to her house to collect recyclables, happily said, “I know the recycling group is coming when I spot their uniform from afar. They are a great help as I can’t send the recyclables to the station due to my mobility problem.”
 
 
Zhang had even asked a businessman, Dai Tan Rao, for the bottles he used to discard, for recycling. The latter immediately agreed as he had seen the group in the newspaper before. Praising the group, he said, “This group of students has the drive to do good deeds. I am delighted to see how clean the streets in our village have become.”
 
 
 
 
With a simple wish for a cleaner village in mind, this group of teenagers has embarked on the recycling journey. In the process, their relationship has strengthened. Han Qing expressed that when they do recycling in a group, everyone is happy and relaxed; and they learn to control own temper, hence less arguments. Now the group appreciates each other even greater; and the recognition from families and outsiders has propelled them to move further.
 
 
Zhang, a thinker, and Han Qing, a leader, have worked closely to lead the recycling effort in making the village cleaner, thus inspiring everyone to care for the environment.

 

 

Hou Han Qing (first from left) and Zhang Ze Hong (front left) lead the recycling effort in making the village cleaner, thus inspiring everyone to care for the environment. [Photograph by Goh Ah Lian]   Despite some negative views, the kids have persisted in recycling. Their effort finally paid off with recognition from the villagers. A villager, Dai Mei, is seen bringing the kids to her house to collect recyclables. [Photograph by Goh Ah Lian]

Hou Han Qing (first from left) and Zhang Ze Hong (front left) lead the recycling effort in making the village cleaner, thus inspiring everyone to care for the environment. [Photograph by Goh Ah Lian]
 
Despite some negative views, the kids have persisted in recycling. Their effort finally paid off with recognition from the villagers. A villager, Dai Mei, is seen bringing the kids to her house to collect recyclables. [Photograph by Goh Ah Lian]
 
The group bringing recyclables back to Machap Baru Recycling Station for sorting. [Photograph by Goh Ah Lian]   Along the street, the group is invited by villagers to their house to collect recyclables. [Photograph by Goh Ah Lian]

The group bringing recyclables back to Machap Baru Recycling Station for sorting. [Photograph by Goh Ah Lian]
 
 
Along the street, the group is invited by villagers to their house to collect recyclables. [Photograph by Goh Ah Lian]