Through eight years of painstaking effort, Tzu Chi volunteers have noted a decrease in the collection of recyclable materials. This is due in no small part of people’s increasing awareness in preserving Mother Nature.
As a result of raised awareness, recyclables collected in Manila North Cemetery and Manila Chinese Cemetery decreased significantly compared to previous years, Tzu Chi volunteers said.
“We’re happy that we didn’t collect as many as we thought. Maybe because our fellowmen have learned,” said Tzu Chi volunteer Julie Collado, assigned to Manila North Cemetery.
This was also the case in the Chinese Cemetery, which has been a part of Tzu Chi’s yearly recycling activity since 2010.
“When we were first here, there were a lot of people. And there were a lot of recyclables as well,” said Tzu Chi volunteer Gina Lenchico, assigned to the Chinese Cemetery.
In line with its Mission of Environmental Protection, Tzu Chi visited cemeteries in Metro Manila at the height of All Saints’ Day, the yearly holiday for the dearly departed. Hundreds of volunteers collected recyclables such as paper, cardboard, and plastic bottles. Proceeds from the sale of these recyclables go to Tzu Chi’s fivefold missions.
Other than collecting recyclables, the foundation also aims to educate people about taking good care of Mother Nature.
“We’re not just collecting. What we really want is to spread awareness about taking care of nature. And we don’t just promote through flyers and public speaking. We show them by taking action.” Collado added.
From October 31 to November 2, Tzu Chi initiated the effort in seven cemeteries all over Metro Manila. These include Loyola Memorial Park – Sucat, Manila North Cemetery, Manila South Cemetery, Manila Memorial Park – Sucat, Manila Memorial Park – Novaliches, Manila Chinese Cemetery, and Himlayang Pilipino.
Joel Cagara, a caretaker in one of the Chinese Cemetery’s mausoleums, said that he was instructed to keep plastic bottles and give them to Tzu Chi volunteers.
“It’s good, of course. The simple things like trash can be used and, at the same time, we can also help (the needy),” said Cagara.
Shirley Galabay saw the goodness in the work of Tzu Chi volunteers at Manila North Cemetery. In 2016, when a fire hit her home in Barangay Putatan, Muntinlupa City, Tzu Chi delivered much-needed aid to her family.
“Tzu Chi helps a lot, just like us in Muntinlupa City. I hope that a lot of people would help [Tzu Chi],” said a grateful Galabay.
Aside from volunteers, some youth also participated in collecting waste and recyclables. In the Chinese Cemetery, 15-year-old Clarence Mendoza went with four of his friends to the recycling program at the invitation of the volunteers.
“It’s good. We get to help the nature. We can prevent flooding resulting from plastic bottles clogging (the sewage system). The plastic bottles, if we gather them, can still be recycled,” he said.