In view of the increasingly worsening environment, a group of environmental protection volunteers in China has launched the Green Consumption campaign to encourage all Chinese people to work together to protect the nation's blue skies and green fields.
Chen Kaifeng, 39 years old, is one of the volunteers. By working odd jobs, he has managed to walk across 23 provinces in China, covering a total distance of some 60,000 kilometers. During his six-year long march, Chen has delivered nearly 2,800 speeches in a bid to call public attention to environmental protection. Today, he has been appointed by 1,200 schools as extracurricular instructor to teach students about the importance of environmental protection.
In a recent interview, Chen Kaifeng shared his story with the journal China Youth:
I was born in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, in east coastal China. The world famous Grand Canal connecting Beijing and Hangzhou ran through my hometown. During my childhood I remember that the town was like a paradise, with blue skies and crystal clear water. Regrettably, in recent years the river is getting murkier and murkier.
When I was 33 years old, I worked for a newspaper as a correspondent. In my spare time, I hosted programs on a local radio station. But I felt suffocated by such an unchanging life. I wanted something new and exciting.
When my crazy idea came upon me, I was strolling along a river. I made up my mind right there and then that I would walk across the whole country and investigate our environmental protection situation. In every place I visited, I decided to set up an environmental protection organization. On my way, I would also collect various effective environmental protection methods and spread this knowledge to as many people as possible.
In 2001, I quit my job and finally prepared myself. On my departure day, my parents came to see me off. When I waved goodbye to them, I saw clearly the tears swirling in their eyes. Their reluctant farewell made my heart break. But I was bound to fulfill my duty and so I embarked on my journey.
In the past six years, I have developed a fixed set of working procedures. When I arrive at a new place, the first thing I will do is to collect information about the local environmental situation. I will then ask schools or resident communities for permission to deliver speeches, hold discussions, or conduct other activities like inviting people to sign a banner to show their support for an environmental protection drive. (More)
A son's wish
"We're a group of young environmental protection volunteers. We're Li Haiyang, Ma Jian, Li Chunyan, Feng Qinghua and Ding Li. We hope you will join our environmental protection group."
One month ago, I attended the "Green Binhai Challenging Activity" held by the Binhai Channel of the Tianjin People's Radio. I was elected as the leader of the project "promoting the use of environmentally-friendly shopping bags". On that night, I wrote my oath in the "environmental protection green angel" blog to call on more volunteers to join in our cause.
In 2000, I went to study in Cyprus. There, the way the locals love their environment and resources impressed me deeply. Usually parents teach their children from early childhood to save energy resources and get close to nature. Because of this they have the habit of showing respect for the environment around them.
I went back home in 2003 and found the environment around me in China was not very good. "Use-and-throw" plastic bags can be seen everywhere: hanging down the branches of trees along the sidewalks, floating in park lakes. They are unable to decompose naturally and consequently they pile up as waste and make our cities look ugly. Research shows that each year our country wastes more than one million tons of plastics.
Many countries are campaigning against white pollution -- plastic bags. In Germany, shoppers have to buy plastic bags in the supermarkets. Germans usually go shopping with cloth bags or rattan baskets. And Koreans also use cloth or paper bags to wrap their goods to reduce their usage of plastic bags.
I took part in this activity and worked together with other volunteers to promote the use of environmentally friendly shopping bags. I spent about 70 percent of my time on this activity. After heated discussions, members of my group quickly took actions separately: some went to seek business sponsorship. A company could print a small size advertisement on environmentally friendly shopping bags for only 300-500 yuan (US$40.01-66.68).Others went to find appropriate factories to produce the environmentally friendly shopping bags at the lowest possible price.
Later we went to distribute these shopping bags free of charge in supermarkets or around communities. People could get an environmentally friendly shopping bag in exchange for five plastic bags.
We encountered many setbacks during this month-long activity but also gained some unexpected achievements.
Two factories were willing to produce the shopping bags. They produced 3，000 shopping bags at the price of 1.6 yuan (US$0.21) each. (More)
Environmental protection: priority for Chinese girl
"I want these four apples and I don't need a plastic bag," Wang Fengzhu, a junior at Huazhong Agricultural University said to the salesman working in the school's fruit store. The salesman is a little surprised so he still puts the apples in a plastic bag and hands them to her. Wang adroitly takes the apples out, puts them in her black duffel bag and returns the plastic bag to the salesman.
Another salesman sees Wang and smiles: "No plastic bag girl again!"
It's Wang's habit to go out shopping with her duffel bag. "It just came back from Japan with me," Wang says pointing at her black duffel bag. Every time Wang saves a plastic bag, she feels a sense of achievement.
Wang was born in 1986 and was elected to the Tunza Youth Advisory Council of United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on 30 August 2007.
She attended the TUNZA-NEAYEN in Tokyo, Japan this September.
Wang speaks fluent English. She is also very talkative. More than 180 delegates from 145 countries participated in the UNEP's meeting held in Germany this August. Wang talked about the Korean star Rain with Koreans and the footballer Kaka with Brazilians… Most of the delegates got acquainted with her in less than a week.
Before the election for the Tunza Youth Advisory, each delegate had a last chance to give a speech. Wang happened to bump her head on the last night and had a bandage tied up around her head.
"I just donated my blood to this meeting and I believe that I can do much better in the future," Wang said. Her joke won everybody's applause; ultimately she was elected to the Tunza Youth Advisory Council of the UNEP.
Environmental protection has always been Wang's priority.
When she was in Japan this September, Disneyland could be seen from the window of her room. She gave up the opportunity to visit it even though it had been her childhood dream to go there. "I didn't want to miss the chance to communicate with other delegates about environmental protection," Wang said.
Wang likes reading books on environmental protection. She learned a lot about London fog and the Los Angeles photochemical smog episode when she was in elementary school.
A year and a half ago Wang became a member of the Green Association of HZAU (Huazhong Agricultural University, based in Wuhan City in central China.) And there she participated in her first environmental protection activity. (More)
(China.org.cn November 5, 2007)