Can We Reduce Our Garbage?

垃圾  可以更少吗?

Wenjing lives in Chen Gong Xintiandi, a housing estate in Wudang District of Guiyang and volunteers with Ren-Xin-Qi Volunteer Service Centre for community. This is her story.

This is the day of our monthly talk on garbage separation in our neighbourhood. We have been meeting since 2019. As a volunteer with Ren-Xin-Qi, I talk about the importance of reducing garbage and how to separate it properly. A few neighbours join me.

I am an ordinary resident of Wudang, which is called the ‘legendary ecological and mystical place of Guizhou’. Until three years ago, I was happy living here. The air was always clear and pleasant. But one day, I noticed a pungent smell. It was summer and the smell lasted for days. I later learned it was from Guiyang’s biggest landfill, behind a hill two kilometres away. The smell stayed in my mind for a long time.

For Mid-Autumn Festival 2018, Ren-Xin-Qi and some seniors organised a big neighbourhood event. Younger residents joined too, and I went with some friends – I like crowds! I learned that Ren-Xin-Qi had been running a programme in our neighbourhood since 2015, trying to reduce garbage and increase garbage separation. Nobody found it strange to hear them talking about reducing food consumption and managing kitchen waste at Mid-Autumn Festival! The elderly people liked them too.

Director Ai was so patient, answering everyone’s questions about garbage. What impressed me most was that she said no one expected the city would expand so fast and that people’s consumption would grow at such speed. More, the garbage produced had already surpassed the capacity of the landfill.

My friends and I immediately joined up as volunteers. We wanted to know more. In the following year, we joined discussions and learnings with other residents. We now realise that human beings tend to see ourselves as ‘consumers’ and aim at maximising self-interest – we forget that everything we ‘own’ comes from the earth, and instead of cherishing what we have, we consume everything as fast as we can!

Since Ren-Xin-Qi also designs a school curriculum and has limited human resources, we volunteers decided to take up the job of holding the monthly meetings. After all, it is our own community! When some neighbours actively came forward and consulted us, we knew they saw the importance of the issue and some have even started separating and recycling their garbage. I am happy that I am making my own contribution!

Last year, in Wudang’s WeChat group, we talked about consumerism and the excess packaging in courier services. We wanted everyone to reflect on our responsibility as consumers and how is it that we create such huge amounts of garbage! A resident and I have also joined the planning and implementation of Ren-Xin-Qi’s 2020 survey project titled Life of Garbage.

I hope my participation will have an impact on more people and encourage them to take part in learning and protecting our community!

(from Annual Report 2018-2019