Natural calamity is frequently the consequence of the actions of mankind. For instance, the indiscriminate felling of trees has caused destruction of forests and erosion. Since 1990, Master Cheng Yen has called upon Tzu Chi volunteers to do recycling. Since then, Tzu Chi volunteers in Taiwan have been actively carrying out recycling in their community and also influenced many other people to join in the effort. Master Cheng Yen hopes that everyone, with their loving hearts, will practise recycling in their daily lives, and at the same time, reduce the production of rubbish. This piece of pure land in front of us requires joint effort from everyone.
Leading by example, Tzu Chi volunteers always carry with them the triple gem of recycling which is the environmentally friendly bowl, tumbler and chopsticks. Tzu Chi volunteers have taken Master's advice to keep the land pure and clean for future generations by taking care of mother nature and natural resources.
In Malaysia, Tzu Chi offices have also established recycling groups in their communities. This group of "Gardeners of the Earth" has been actively promoting recycling and treasuring all beings which is equivalent to treasuring blessings.
Environmental protection is one of the missions actively promoted by Tzu Chi offices with the hope of educating the public so that more people are aware of the changes of the environment, and hence the need to protect it. Of course, this is also an opportunity for spiritual recycling.
If a 50kg of paper can save a 20-year old tree, then in 2005 alone the 16,368,022kg of paper recycled by Tzu Chi volunteers from Central and Southern Malaysia, would have saved 327,291 trees.
As more recycling collection points are set up in the communities, this concept of environmental protection has been gaining good response and acceptance by the public and schools. This has tremendously enhanced awareness and also brought many new members into Tzu Chi.
Tzu Chi's initiative in promoting environmental protection has been well recognized in many ways. On 14 July 2001, the State Government presented the "Environment Merit Award" to our Kota Kinabalu branch. On 9 November 2003 and 18 December 2004 respectively, the Kuala Lumpur branch received from the Prime Minister the "Award for Supporting National Environmental Protection Plan"; and from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government the "Award on Recycling for Caring Society". In fact, Dato' Seri Ong Ka Ting, Minister of Housing and Local Government, visited Tzu Chi's recycling centers in Kuala Lumpur and commented that other organizations should emulate and learn from Tzu Chi's efforts in taking care of the environment.