Disasters are common nowadays due to global climate changes. Scientists concluded that the main reason leading to global warming is man’s irresponsible action against nature. Environmental Protection could be the only solution to solve this problem. It should be promoted to inspire everyone’s participation, and it should be done personally.
On August 23, 1990, after being invited to talk to a large crowd in Taichung, Taiwan, Master Cheng Yen encouraged everyone to use their applauding hands for recycling and loving the earth. Afterwards, one young lady heeded the call, and started to do recycling in her community. She actively invited everyone to help Tzu Chi by recycling. Since then, Tzu Chi volunteers in Taiwan pushed forth for recycling in their respective communities, inviting more and more people to join.
Disregarding age, social status, and personal background, Tzu Chi’s recycling volunteers view the streets as their venue for spiritual cultivation. Just for the sake of loving the earth, these volunteers bend humbly and give themselves selflessly no matter how tedious the work is or how bad the garbage smells. To date, more than 4,500 Tzu Chi recycling stations and 50,000 volunteers are scattered all over Taiwan, each doing their part in loving the earth.
Tzu Chi’s Green Construction
Aside from the recycling volunteers, Tzu Chi also incorporated environmental protection concepts in every construction of its recycling centers. Caring and protecting the environment is the main consideration in every construction designs. Grass and trees are planted everywhere. Floor bricks are used to allow water to sip in the soil and to allow the earth to breathe. Water resources are recycled and reused. Rain water recycling system and various water conservation systems are applied. Solar energy is used in street lightings to conserve energy. Moreover, natural lightings and ventilation are incorporated in structural designs of Tzu Chi buildings not only to lessen or avoid the use of air-conditioning system, but also to bring man closer to nature.
Protecting the Environment and People’s Mind
Master Cheng Yen said: “To save the world, one must start by saving the people’s minds.” Environmental protection should start from the heart. “Recycling is a way to care for the earth and a way to cultivate the mind. Loving the Earth, which all life forms depend on, is our duty, and also our mission. In practicing recycling, we serve as gardeners of the Earth. By freeing ourselves from the bondage of desire, knowing our blessings, cherishing our blessings and creating blessings, we nurture the garden in our hearts. In caring for both the Earth and the people’s minds, we shall live peacefully and in harmony with the Earth.”
In recent years, animal-borne infectious diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, mad cow disease, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and avian flu, among others, are threatening mankind more than ever. Fear among people is more obvious especially on food choices. Choosing a vegetarian diet helps in the promotion of environmental protection. A vegetarian diet avoids raising more livestock that may lead to the imbalance of the earth’s bio-diversity. Furthermore, it reduces air and water contamination in the process of raising livestock. Most important of all, large quantities of grains used to feed livestock will help solve the world’s starvation problem.
Tzu Chi also advocates healthy lifestyle as part of the environmental protection task which starts from freeing the mind from affliction, adopting a vegetarian diet to decrease illnesses, eating environmental-friendly food, and developing good etiquette and personal character. Tzu Chi people practice what is being promoted by bringing along Environmental Protection lunch kits comprised of environment-friendly bowl, tumbler and chopsticks. Conserving the use of water, turning off lights when not in use, and being moderate in use of basic necessities are some means of how Tzu Chi people adopt environment protection in their daily lives. Through this mission, Tzu Chi hopes that every one learns to cherish resources, control and lessen one’s desire for material needs, and return to simple, frugal living.