The five-day eco-trip to Taiwan was full of laughter and happiness, and has left us with wonderful memories of moving moments. During the trip we visited some recycling factories to see how recycled materials can be changed into fantastic products; we visited some institutions to learn how new technologies can support environmental protection; we witnessed some facilities dealing with solid waste produced by people every day, and we also experienced how Taiwan people actually help save the environment in their everyday actions, such as running after the rubbish collecting car on the street. After this trip, I gained much memorable insight into the environmental protection practices done by people in Taiwan.
The first site we visited was the Spring Pool glass industry. This company recycles the wasted glass bottles and reuses them to make beautiful glass crafts. The most exciting moment of this site visit was witnessing the actual process of making these crafts. When I went into the producing plant, the heat of the oven overwhelmed me. I saw five skillful workers. Despite the heat and sweat, I could feel the power in their bodies. Every movement of their hands was so accurate that you could never find any mistake. They have been working in the factory for several decades, doing the same things again and again, never giving up and never stopping. I was deeply moved by their persistence and passion for their jobs.
On the second day, the most enjoyable activity was riding a bicycle in the countryside. We rented some mountain bikes in a shop and then we began our cycling tour. It was amazing because it has been so long since I went cycling so close to nature. We rode along the road, passing through fields, grasslands, and small scattering cottages. We also passed through a very long steel bridge and a tunnel. During the bicycle trip, I felt thoroughly relaxed. That’s the awesome power of the nature – when you get close to it, you feel relaxed, you feel comfortable, you feel that you love it and, you are part of it.
On the third day, we went to Dong da Yuan district to see how and why people are willing to dedicate themselves to the practice of recycling and environmental protection. Dong da Yuan is under Tzu Chi Foundation, a Buddhist religious group. The place is very peaceful and the people were very kind and extremely friendly. All of them were ready to devote their time to save our environment. During this site visit, the most striking thing I learned was the power of religion and belief. Under this motivation, people have the passion to devote and sacrifice, giving up their personal time to do the volunteer job in Tzu Chi Foundation, sacrificing their own enjoyment of comfortable but energy-costly living styles, and donating their own money. Mr. Zheng, one of the professors from Taiwan accompanying our trip, told me that it is the power of religion that makes the Taiwanese commit to many of these environmental practices. He also said that only a few of the people really understand the scientific logic behind their conduct, such as how much solid waste they can save and how much water and soil they can protect from pollution. They don’t need to know those kinds of technical details. All they need is the belief that what they do is morally correct, and after they do those actions, they feel comfortable and relieved. When it comes to promoting solid waste management and control in Hong Kong, I think that associating the practice of environmental friendly behaviors, such as rubbish classification, recycling, reuse, solid waste reduction etc., with spirituality can help. The environmental protection knowledge is already acknowledged by most people in Hong Kong, particularly among the middle class. They already know that we could save our resources by reusing and recycling, and that toxic chemicals in many produce will kill animals. Despite this, they they don’t put the ideas into practice. I belive that if more people in Hong Kong had spirital and moral beliefs like those practiced in Taiwan, we can see more devotion to environmental protection.