LO4: Shown perseverance and commitment in their activities
LO7: Considered the ethical implications of their actions.
In January of every year, our local partner, Buddha Tzu Chi, holds an annual Chinese New Year fair in the Pasir Ris MRT Courtyard. At this fair, the NGO sells their products and raises awareness of what they collectively do as an NGO. Green Fingers has been attending and participating in this event for the past three years.
The fair offers a range of food, all vegetarian and vegan to defy the stereotype that such food is exclusively vegetable and tofu. By going meatless, we also help Mother Earth to reduce water usage and carbon emission. Fair goers are also encouraged to eat in smaller proportions, taking only what they need to reduce food waste. It will be interesting to see how we can adapt this to the context of our school community.
Our job as a local service was to help the environmental sector of their NGO. Our goal from this event was to build a stronger connection with Buddha Tzu Chi and observe what they do make events greener so that we can implement them into our school community to live up to our school mission. Within the environmental part, they have a small recycling station but the majority of the space is taken up by the washing stations.
We started quite early in the morning so there were not a lot of dishes to be washed yet. This year, they have three bags, one for trash which will go to incineration, one for “clean waste” to be recycled, and another for contaminated waste which can be cleaned then recycled. We were partnered with a volunteer to go around to different stalls to check whether they are using the bags correctly. I think that this is strategic since the stalls will be the first to sort out their waste which further raises their awareness about the issue. Another improvement from last year is that they now collect recyclables from non-food stalls too as products come in boxes and are wrapped in plastic which could also be recycled. The posters in the picture below are actually printed on recycled paper and pasted onto reused cardboard for support.
The majority of the event was us doing the washing up. To reduce waste, all food is served on reusable crockery and volunteers take turns to help wash the dishes. At the station, I was working with two other members of Green Fingers and a volunteer to wash the bowls and plates. There are three tubs of water, the first has enzymes and washing detergent, the second is to wash off the enzymes, and the third was used to give it one final clean wash. The weather was not at all forgiving, there was barely any wind and the temperature was easily 35 degrees. We were all fully clothed with latex gloves over our sweaty hands, perseverance was required. Our shift lasted for over an hour, nonstop washing with no breaks or sitting in between. What kept us going was the support from each other, both from members of Green Fingers and Buddha Tzu Chi. Without them, I may not have made it through 30 minutes. Even when our shift was over, a lot of us were still by the sink as there were no one to replace us. There was a sense of duty to continue until someone else comes, this way there was not a large pile up of crockery. It was also during peak hours, lunch. If we did not continue, the people on duty after us would have a lot of work and the attendees may not have utensils to eat with and may resort to disposables which defeats the aim.
Despite the exhaustion from this activity, it felt rewarding in the end. I was proud to handover the shift to the next people because the impact we make from these washing stations was rewarding and unforgettable. Just thinking of how much plastic we have saved by volunteering for just a little over an hour was insane. The washing station was also quite out in the open, most people could see what we were doin which helped raise even more awareness of such an important issue. Some kind souls offered help without even thinking twice. It was an honour to be part of a powerful movement like this. There is definitely a lot to take away from this event and implement in our Family Festival in March, I look forward to working with Buddha Tzu Chi again to make our events more environmentally sustainable.