Friday, Jul 21st

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Thursday, 22 September 2016 00:00

Hi, Remember to Recycle!

Written by  Yong Siew Lee, Melaka / Translated by Oon Chee Yuan


Tzu Chi volunteers Tan Bee Chui together with Ng Ai Choon, hyped up the atmosphere, and the session was well-received by the students. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

“I won’t waste food anymore!” “I want to drive other students into recycling!” Students who had always been noisy during the lecture not only listened attentively but also sorted resources wholeheartedly. There were some who regretted wasting food previously while others wanted to carry out resource classification and advocate recycling. Everyone began to take heed of environmental protection.


At the turn of the century, the issue of solid waste management has been placed high on the Government’s agenda as it is believed to be a bane of livelihood if it is mishandled. In 2005, the production of solid waste in Malaysia amounted to a whopping 734 tons, capable of filling up 42 KLCC, not to mention 2020 when solid waste is expected to increase drastically to 1,095 tons.

In an effort to reduce the heavy burden of garbage disposal, also in response to calls from non-governmental organizations, the Government has in recent years drawn its focus to recycling resources and turning garbage into renewable resources. Following the implementation of Waste Recycling Act from June 1, 2016, the Government made solid waste separation mandatory in two municipalities and six states, namely Putrajaya, KL, Perlis, Kedah, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor.

Over the years, schools have also been encouraged to promote the recycling of resources and to set up environmental conservation societies to create better awareness among students.

However, when it comes to environmental problems, resource recovery, waste disposal and energy issues, most people do not want to get involved personally. As a member of this beautiful land, what can we do?

Education can bring about change

“Although the Government has implemented resource classification, it is difficult for us to change the habits of the older generation. But we can educate the next generation and let them influence their parents. The younger generation has to act now because they will live longer than us. They must help themselves. I think it is best to educate the children about environmental protection in schools,” said Mala a/p Mahalingan, science teacher of SK Tun Syed Ahmad Shahabudin.

After the Government’s implementation of solid waste separation, coupled with the public’s response and the Education Ministry’s encouragement for schools to promote environmental protection, Mala was further convinced to push for environmental advocacy in school.

Mala often hears about recycling and she also has recycling sorting bags set up at home, but she does not understand it fully. She heard from her husband, who teaches at a Tamil primary school, that Tzu Chi has run a successful Happy Schooling Scheme at the school and maintained a good relationship with the school.

As Tzu Chi has been working on environmental protection for a long time, Mala was particularly interested in Tzu Chi’s mission in environmental protection. After getting the permission from school, Mala then invited Tzu Chi to the school to promote environmental protection.

Work hard for a clean Earth

SK Tun Syed Ahmad Shahabudin was founded six years ago, while the Environmental Protection Society was only established two years ago. However, the society was not active in environmental protection due to a lack of awareness and information.

While efforts were in place to encourage waste separation at the canteen, problems arose as the younger students could not distinguish between resources and rubbish. Efforts to go green thus came to naught in the end. Nonetheless, the school was determined to encourage recycling among students, murals were thus painted in the school compound to spread the message.

The school’s green campaign was given another boost recently with the visit of Tzu Chi volunteers, who arrived at the school as early as 8 am to set up booths.

Before the start of the event, Ng Ai Choon, the main speaker of the day, had butterflies in her stomach despite her rich experiences in “Great Love Mothers” as well as other activities on environmental conservation. This time around, however, her nervousness was totally understandable as her sharing would last about 45 minutes!

“This is the first time I am sharing my thoughts on the topic in Malay, and since I left school decades ago, I am very nervous…” said Ai Choon. Even though she was notified only a few days before, she bravely took up the challenge, and did not mind burning the midnight oil to perfect her speech.

Ai Choon admitted that upon arriving at the school, hospitality displayed by everyone from security guards and teachers to students had calmed her nerves. “Hopefully, the children will continue the endeavour until Mother Earth becomes a clean planet one day.” Her wish resonated powerfully with all other volunteers on site.

On the scene, Tan Bee Chui and Ai Choon were seen busy discussing and chatting about role play. The lively Bee Chui first introduced Tzu Chi and their visit to the 180 Primary 5 students from five classes.

Ai Choon, on the other hand, checked the school dustbins to learn about the school’s recycling efforts. During the talk, she gave advices and encouragements based on her observations. She also used illustrations, light-hearted Malay songs, a number of short films, as well as some questions to drive the crowd. The attentive children gave enthusiastic response; teacher Mala was impressed.

I want to recycle

Mala then shared that the students were usually noisy during talks, but this time around not only did they listen obediently, they were also awakened. Some even volunteered to try out resource classification! Such enthusiasm caught the teachers by surprise.

“I used to waste food, but I won’t anymore.”
“Yes, me too!”
“I always waste food at home in the past, now I won’t!”

They vowed never to waste food anymore after watching footages of children in Indonesia foraging for food at dump sites. The heart-rending images had invoked fear and sympathy in them.

“This talk made me realize how important recycling is as the Earth is filled with garbage! I’ve now learnt that recycled resources can be used to make clothes and even be reused... I’m going to start recycling when I get home,” Athirah said.

“I used to throw away recyclable resources, but now I will prepare recycling bins in class and encourage my classmates to recycle. When the bins are full after a week, we will move them to the large recycle bucket! I will also share with my mother when I get home…” Sharvesaan said seriously.

“I learnt from you that when we want to educate someone, we can’t just say ‘you do this, you do that’. We must share with them real cases, pointing out the causes and consequences; in particular the good job done by Tzu Chi, and the videos. These are more effective in driving people,” teacher Mala reflected.

Actually, Mala had asked the students to bring recyclable materials from home two days before the event. At first, she received negative responses from them; after all, they were used to throwing the resources indiscriminately.

On that day, under the guidance of Tzu Chi volunteers, the students had hands-on experience in waste separation. The booth was crowded with kids filling up recycling bags. Those who did not bring resources exclaimed disappointedly, “I regret for not bringing some resources!”

Teacher Mala has a new plan too. “Once a week, I will give the students a simple sharing session about recycling to remind them to carry on the effort. I will practise it too to walk the talk. Honestly, there are not many people like you doing things selflessly, I guess this is the so called the noble act! Thank you for the encouragement which gives us more strength!”

She added movingly, “Volunteers also suggested that I take the students to visit the nearby Tzu Chi Air Keroh Recycling-cum-Education Centre. I think it will be another rich and rewarding experience for the children!”



“Hi, remember to do resource classification!” The students when stumbling across other students from other grades greeted them happily! They immediately practised what they have learnt from the talk, which is to share the information with more students as advised by Tzu Chi volunteers.

 

Teacher Mala a/p Mahalingan encouraged students to practise recycling in life, and share with more people. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]   Tzu Chi volunteers showed the children the products made from recyclables by Da Ai Technology. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

Teacher Mala a/p Mahalingan encouraged students to practise recycling in life, and share with more people. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]
 
Tzu Chi volunteers showed the children the products made from recyclables by Da Ai Technology. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
After experiencing resource classification, Sharvesaan (1st left) wanted to prepare recycling bins in class and encourage all students to do it together. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]   Children came to the booth to learn more about environmental protection from the volunteers. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]

After experiencing resource classification, Sharvesaan (1st left) wanted to prepare recycling bins in class and encourage all students to do it together. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
 
Children came to the booth to learn more about environmental protection from the volunteers. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]
 
Primary 5 students from SK Tun Syed Ahmad Shahabudin responded enthusiastically to the sorting activities. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]   Primary 5 students and Tzu Chi volunteers pledged to protect the Earth through recycling. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]

Primary 5 students from SK Tun Syed Ahmad Shahabudin responded enthusiastically to the sorting activities. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
 
Primary 5 students and Tzu Chi volunteers pledged to protect the Earth through recycling. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]