After experiencing water shortages during the 2010 Lunar New Year, Kluang's residents have become more aware of the importance of protecting the environment. Hence, Kluang conducted a seminar to update volunteers on the latest trends in environmental protection.
Tzu Chi Taiwan has started to promote its 7 ideas of practising environmental protection - recruit more young people, make it a lifestyle, spread the knowledge more widely, make it a family affair, spiritual uplift, recyclables reduction and make it a happy and healthy exercise.
On April 11, 2010, Tzu Chi Kluang conducted a seminar to enhance the volunteers' understanding on its Environmental Protection Mission. Some 70 volunteers from 15 recycling points participated in this seminar that has a programme designed to suit the organizational priorities.
Brother Ong Seng Yeow explained the difference between the 'Kyoto Protocol 1997' and the 'Copenhagen Summit 2009' agreements. The former is a legally binding agreement under which industrialized countries agreed to control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to stop the increase in global warming that has taken place during the last 150 years. The latter, however, does not contain any legally binding commitments for reducing CO2 emissions." He further added that for the past two decades, a series of climate conferences were organized by the United Nations for all countries with the aim of enabling local governmental leaders to engage in the international climate change negotiations.
Despite consensus reached by all participating countries, the world climate conferences of the last two decades had failed because a global deal is too complex as the economic and social structures of the countries and regions are too diverse. The environmentalists were disappointed with the outcome. They urged the world leaders to act fast before it is too late.
The movie "Saving 123" attracted everyone's attention as it taught them how to save money and protect the environment at the same time. It proves that when there is a will, there is a way.
New volunteer, Zhu Mei Juan, said that she has learnt many environmental protection tips after reading Master Cheng Yen's book, entitled: Qing Pin Zhi Fu (Leading A Frugal & Happy Life), and watching Da Ai TV. She has put all these tips into practice at home, including making compost for her vegetable garden from her kitchen waste.
Brother Liang Chao Wen said that the recycling centre is a good place for self-cultivation. When engaging in recycling work, one is practising the Buddha's teaching on the Six-Perfections (Paramitas), that is, charity, keeping the precepts, tolerating insults, diligence, meditation and wisdom.
A participant and speaker at the seminar was Brother Fang Yi Hao, who is a collector of recyclables. He talked about the items that could be recycled and how to sort them to make them recyclable. During the Q & A session, many questions were raised and these included: "Can toys and laminated packaging be recycled?" "Are slippers considered plastics or rubber?" and so on.
When the speaker touched on disasters due to extreme weather, like droughts, all present were deeply concerned. A few months ago, Kluang had suffered water shortages as the water levels in the reservoir and Kluang River had dropped dramatically. Semborang River's water level was once as low as 0.1m.
Kluang's Water Board had to implement water restrictions from February 13, eve of the Lunar New Year. It made life difficult for thousands of residents during the festive season. Although a RM500,000 emergency fund was spent on cloud seeding by the authority concerned, the drought condition remained severe. So when Brother Wang Chun Yang elaborated on the need to keep rain water, reuse water, save water and so on, everyone concurred without hesitation.
When the participants were given a quiz on common environmental protection issues, it was surprising to find that many of them had no idea of how utility bills are calculated. They were shocked to hear that a dripping faucet can waste up to 70 litres of water per day; and that using a bucket and sponge instead of a hose when washing our car could save at least 300 litres of water.
Turn "Trash" into "Gold" and "Gold" into "Love" was the last topic for the day's seminar. DAAI Technology Co.,Ltd was introduced as the company responsible for bringing together many up-, mid-, and down-stream companies and experts from various fields to develop products from recycled PET bottles, such as, blankets, scarves, clothing, and so on. It is the sincere hope of the founders that more companies like DAAI Technology will come forward and work together to benefit our society.
The day ended with the Environmental Protection Team in Kluang making a vow to recruit 90 new volunteers this year. They also promised to diligently practise what they had learned in the seminar in their daily lives and passed it on to their friends and relatives.
Brother Fang Yi Hao is a collector of recyclable. He explained about the things that can be recycled.【Photograph by Ong Seng Yeow】
There was a class on "Go Vegetarian - Save the Earth".
All participants were each given a piece of soap made from recycled cooking oil as a gift.
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