Dorm monitors make sound difference
University students are also helping to protect the environment throughout Shanghai.
Almost every university has its own youth volunteer team that takes part in environmental protection, including raising public awareness, inspecting the nearby environment and making suggestions for improvement to authorities.
Students of environmental science and engineering at Shanghai Jiao Tong University have just completed an evaluation report on the campus environment.
They spent months checking the air, water, noise levels and solid waste and compared the result with the national standards for a university campus. The result: The campus environment is generally fine, maybe a B+, but the noise at dormitories near Expressway A4 is above the accepted standard.
The report, suggestions for improvement and a survey of 2,000 students were turned over to authorities.
As a result, students were shifted to other dormitories away from the highway, the time for grass mowing at the dorm was shifted to class hours at the dorm, and at rest time in classroom buildings.
"Though many students complained about the noise earlier, it was hard for authorities to accept without solid proof," says 23-year-old Tian Ya, a member of the team. "That's why we compared our inspection results with national standards to demonstrate the problem clearly."
Tian sees tending to the environment as part of his social responsibility. Though it's difficult for the voices of students like him to be heard, he says, improvements can be made if students win authorities over to their side.
Other Shanghai students are doing their bit.
The eco-volunteers at Fudan University monitor the water of Xitiao Stream, a tributary of the Huangpu River.
Monitors at the Shanghai No. 2 Military Medical University monitor the handling and recycling of electronic waste.
The team at East China Normal University surveys the "green consumption" or buying habits of local residents.
Kids are low-carbon pioneers
Middle school students are also getting in on the environmental protection act.
Eco-teams from 10 middle schools are taking part in a five-week low-carbon living program called a "Student Low-Carbon Pioneer Activity."
The participating schools include Shixi Middle School, Shanghai No. 3 Girls Middle School and Yangpu Middle School.
The program that began on July 1 includes presentation of environmental protection programs, screening of films, visits to waste-recycling companies and lectures on low-carbon living, waste recycling and water and soil conservation.
Shixi Middle School students recommend eating more organic foods, cooking more foods in traditional Chinese ways like steaming or boiling (reducing oil), reducing the use of disposable tableware, and riding bikes.
The team collects waste paper, chopsticks, lunch boxes, bottles and batteries for recycling.
"Publicizing environmental awareness cannot be done by simply just printing brochures," says Ji Qin, adviser of the team. "Encouraging students to take action can teach them more about what low-carbon life really is."
(Shanghai Daily July 14, 2009)