慈濟傳播人文志業基金會
Words From Master Cheng Yen--Environmental Protection Starts With Everyone

Time constantly slips away. We should all make the best of our days to make positive differences in the world. That’s why I’m always full of gratitude for people who give of themselves with love to better our world. One major issue that plagues the Earth today is garbage. Thankfully, many real-life bodhisattvas are doing what they can to address this issue; they take up recycling and try to inspire others to do the same to help our world become cleaner and better.

Many Tzu Chi volunteers from China came to Taiwan recently to attend a Tzu Chi training camp. During the closing ceremony, more than ten of them shared on stage how they had started doing recycling work. They said that after they joined Tzu Chi, they realized how important it is to protect the Earth and take care of our environment, so they took up recycling. Some of them are very successful in life, but they still roll up their sleeves and personally sort through garbage to reclaim reusable resources. Some have even provided venues to be used as recycling points in their communities so that more people can come together and do the Earth a good turn.

These volunteers took up recycling not because they had too much time on their hands; instead, they took up the work because they realized that the garbage problem was created by human beings and it is up to us to take care of it. They do their part and try to motivate others to do the same. They shared how they had carried out their work, including picking up garbage on the beach and in the mountains and carrying the garbage down the mountains with shoulder poles to recycle it.

Just like the volunteers from China, volunteers in Taiwan and many other countries are doing what they can to contribute to the good cause. They also share their experience to inspire others to pitch in.

Environmental protection is our collective responsibility. We must each do our part. Besides recycling, what else can we do to help reduce pollution? We can help cut down on the amount of garbage being produced by reducing consumption. Excessive consumption is why the world is overwhelmed by trash. Let’s call on everyone to rein in their desires and cherish what they have so that we can make a real dent on the amount of garbage being discarded.

Garbage is an issue affecting countries around the world. Take for example the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In its capital, Kinshasa, some waterways are so clogged up with garbage that people can cross them by stepping on the trash. In New Delhi, India, a rubbish mountain has grown so tall that it will soon be taller than the Taj Mahal [240 feet high]. This landfill is now so vast that India’s Supreme Court has warned that red lights will have to be put on the top to warn aircraft.

Human beings really need to wake up to the magnitude of the garbage problem. Take a moment to ponder the vast quantities of toxic substances that are contained in even a single garbage dump. Whether we burn or bury the trash we produce, it is bound to cause pollution. It is therefore our inescapable responsibility to stop mindlessly creating garbage. As for the garbage that has already been thrown out, we should reclaim the part that can be recycled and allow it to be made into useful products. Recycled plastics, for example, can be made into paving blocks or high-end clothing material. If we are mindful, we can turn garbage into a reusable resource instead of letting it pollute the environment.

There is only one Earth, and it sustains billions of people. It has always done a good job of providing for us. However, because of the damage we have done to it, we are witnessing and experiencing water shortages, extreme weather events, and other sad consequences. We must awaken to the warnings the Earth has sent us and take action to protect and care for it before it is too late. Remember that one careless act of ours, however trivial we think it is, can harm the Earth. Environmental protection starts with every one of us. Let us work together so that our neighborhood, city, and the entire Earth can be clean and beautiful, and our world will be a better place to live.

A Tzu Chi volunteer works at the recycling point at her home. By reclaiming reusable resources, we can help the Earth become cleaner and more beautiful. Huang Xiao-zhe

 

September 2019