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4 Environmental Heroes of China

In 2019, we’ve resolved to be more environmentally conscious in our tours. From providing eco-friendly items such as non-plastic bags and bottles to recommending options for more sustainable accommodation, we hope to spread the message of love for Earth, our Home. 

Today, we’ll like to give credit to 4 environmental heroes of China, who have contributed tremendously to our Home. We hope that this article will inspire you, our readers, towards sustainable living. 

Article has been translated from: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/0SOvpARtfeZgGX976B6RXg 

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In June 2018, the National Geographic magazine realised this cover. The tip of an iceberg in the sea, which turns out to be a large white plastic bag.

Mr Liu Yonglong, China’s no. 1 person in marine garbage monitoring, says this, “If you throw a net in the sea in 2025, the ratio of fish to plastic is 3:1. In 2050, it will be 1:1!”

At the start of the new year, we interviewed 4 environmentalists. Among them, some manage scientific tasks, some turn waste into treasures, such as glass and artistic products.

Each one of them is making the world a better place in their own ways. Even if the impact is small, at least humankind has already started. 

 

Yiu Yonglong

China’s number 1 Marine Garbage Monitor

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Liu Yonglong, founder of Rendu Ocean, is the only public welfare organisation in mainland China that specialises in marine litter. He has set up 49 monitoring sites along the China coastline and reports on it each year.

 

I am Liu Yonglong. I was fostered in another’s home at an early age. Being treated with unfairness, I value fairness and justice greatly. From College, I was promoted into Fudan University Student Legal Aid Centre.

Arriving in Shanghai, I saw the sea for the first time and was shocked to find it to be yellower than the Yellow River at Ningxia. The “Rendu Ocean” I founded is the only public welfare institution in mainland China that focuses on marine litter issues. In 2014, we set up 12 monitoring sites on the Chinese coastline, monitoring 6 times a year, and issuing a monitoring report every year. In 2018, the number of monitoring points has expanded to 49.

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Picking up rubbish

 

Before I started monitoring, China did not have past relevant data so it was often impossible to hold talk internationally. I went to an exchange meeting. Where South Korea and Japan came up with a model to show how much garbage came from China. The whole world pointed the issue of marine garbage to China. I discovered that this topic is a blank slate. 

To monitor, we choose a 105-meter-long beach, set up a section every 20 meters, and clean all the garbage in these five sections by hand. We then sort, record the quantity and weight, and finally recycle them. 

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Plastic pickings

 

I will add brand monitoring to the monitoring report. For example, the report will show how many bottle are from Coca-Cola, Wahaha, Blue Moon and other brands are found in the marine garbage. This is to let ordinary people have an intuitive feeling, and also to nudge the company towards a sense of responsibility.

 

Based on our annual monitoring report and international data:

1. The southern coastline is more polluted than the north

2. The highest density of garbage is Qingdao, and the highest volume is in Shenzhen.

3. Beach waste is 98% from land and 2% from sea.

4. The vast majority of marine debris is plastic. It is expected that by 2025, the ratio of fish to plastic will be 3:1, and by 2050 it will reach 1:1.

 

We will hand over the reports to some large companies, government agencies and they will be used in university classrooms as well, hoping to make some progress in all areas.

I’m striving for a zero-waste life. I once hosted Liang Congcheng and Lin Huiyin’s son Liang Congxi in 2003. Both of them took their own chopsticks for breakfast and it moved me. After that, I will bring 5 big items when I go out: handkerchiefs, green bags, lunch boxes, cups, chopsticks. No plastic bags, disposable chopsticks, etc.

 

My environmentally friendly tips:

1. Buy local food, go to the traditional market

2. Try to buy as little as possible individual packaging products, such as a bag of compressed biscuits.

3. If you have to take away, do not choose disposable chopsticks when ordering.

 

 ONE ONE&ONE

Humourous Photos of Garbage

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Axian, Ashin, and Claudia are three good friends. They go to the beach to pick up garbage in their spare time and take a portrait of the garbage. From their photos, you can see that every discarded garbage has its own beauty. And their beauty does not belong to the ocean.

I am Axian, a Taiwanese, and founder of a small organisation called ONE ONE&ONE with 2 friends Ashin and Claudia. It tries to look at garbage and environmental protection from a humourous perspective.

The main thing we do is to take a “portrait photo” for marine debris. This collection is called “Hi, we are back.” In March 2016, I went to Hualien Qixingtan with Axian and found that there was a long period with no beach management, and there was rubbish everywhere. AXian loved cleanliness and began to pick up rubbish. What’s interesting is that when we picked up the garbage we saw that it was exposed to seawater and had changed over the years. The garbage turned out to have a beautiful texture, so we decided to take it home and take pictures of the garbage!

In the next two months, we ran to Qixingtan at nine o’clock every morning to see the sea and picked up rubbish, and then returned to the hotel around three or four in the afternoon. I listened to the sound of the waves all day long and felt really relaxed.  Garbage picking made me feel very fulfilled, so it wasn’t tough at all.

We will classify the rubbish that we have brought back, and picked out the ones which we think make good photos and number them. There are now 138 portraits. In order to make it easier to remember, we also gave each one a name. 

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This is called "Leaving Lego". We think it is very cute. Ashin said that "Every successful LEGO has another Lego behind it”, that’s pretty bad taste.
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This is a mah-jong tile. It has been sharply rounded, so we named it "a north that wants to be a whiteboard."
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The largest type of beach waste is the bottle. We found this bottle very special, there is a kind of skin texture, and it is pressed from a 3D thing into a flat surface, with a flat mouth, like a human face.
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In May of this year, we embarked on a second project called “Future Big Kitchen”. We took a net to the seaside in Taipei, sieved out plastic granules and plated them, creating a junk dish.
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People say that when plastic is thrown into the sea like this, the fish eat it, and it will return to our table sooner or later. I think that diseases of cancer and tumors are too high. Is it possible that it might be due to plastic?

I have never thought that we are environmentalists, and such labels are too heavy.

Our group is called ” ONEONE&ONE “. In addition to saying that we are composed of three individuals, it also means that rubbish is a very small thing. Everyone can do it. One person can influence another person. No need for a large group of people. To participate in the Ocean Clean Beach event, as long as you take out the rubbish around you for two minutes, it is enough.

 

 My environmentally friendly tips:

1. Taiwan garbage bags should be charged, and everyone should reduce their use.

2. Garbage classification is very important. For “useless” items we can use them for heat generation.

3. Own your own water bottle.

 

Kat Ling

Award-winning jewellery watch-maker

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Kat Ling, who has been collecting waste aluminum cans since 2012, has won the Best Design Award for Red Dot Design Jewelry Watches.
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I did the product design. Once I took the aluminum cans and looked at them, I found the bottoms of the really beautiful, much like the dial of the watch, so I started to reinvent the waste aluminum cans.

I have been selling aluminum cans for 6 years, and the most frequent place to get them is outside the restaurant. Every night after the restaurant closed, I went to pick up these empty cans, even when I was pregnant. I will try to choose aluminum cans with smaller sizes, such as beverage cans from Japan and Korea, so that they are the right size for the hand.

The cut pieces of aluminum are not wasted either as I will make other works of art or ornaments.

It takes 4 hours to make a watch. The most difficult part is to cut and drill holes. It is especially easy to cut your hands and it takes a lot of time. At that time, I still had a full-time job and used my spare time to make these aluminum can watches. I took them to the market for sale during the holidays. At that time, sales was very good and the watches basically sold out, so I quit my job to make watches.

At the beginning of the resignation, I still needed a lot of courage. However, one year later, in 2013, the aluminum can watch won the German Red Dot Design Award, the best design award for jewelry watches. I finally felt that it was enough to be recognized and some people appreciated it. Now that we have improved to the fourth generation, the previous version has received feedback that it was too thick, we have simplified from the original two aluminium cans to one, and the thickness is halved.

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Different styles of watches

“CAN do everything” is our philosophy, I think that the creative potential of aluminium cans is very high. Many people think that we have low costs, and that the selling price is too high. But I don’t care about this because we do pay for time, manpower, and creativity, and hope to make the environment better. Aluminium cans can be used or recycled properly; there should be no discarded aluminium cans on the road.

 

 My environmentally friendly tips:

  1. When staying in hotels, I will ask for a towel that does not need to be changed daily.
  2. Used newspaper can be placed at the bottom of the wardrobe to absorb moisture and odour.
  3. Girls like to apply masks. I will use them to wipe the table after use.

 

Wei Desong

Used glass lamp-maker

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Wei Desong is engaged in the creation of waste glassware for 25 years. After he retired, he spent all his savings to buy a piece of land and focused on his creations. He felt that discarded glass is not like other garbage. If they are discarded, it will hurt people, and they can be used to make lamps.

My name is Wei Desong and I am almost 70 years old. I have been working on glass recycling for 25 years. When I was young, I went to work at the Philips factory. After I retired, I started to be environmentally friendly and created with glass.

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I chose to create with glass because the glass is generally large in size, and when they are thrown on the road, it will hurt people, so I will pick it up.

I chose to create with glass because the glass is generally large in size, and when they are thrown on the road, it will hurt people, so I will pick it up. 

I will combine some wood, metal, steel, and glass into different styles of lamps. I don’t really know art, but I want to inspire other people in a quiet way, and I want to attract people to look at it.

I spent all my savings in my 50s when I retired. In 2001, I bought a piece of land on the hills of Hsinchu and built a studio. At that time, I basically relied on selling lamps to make a living. Later, in 2004, I really couldn’t do it because it was too unpredictable.

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Pursuing his passion

Then in 2008, Beijing hosted the Olympic Games to acquire a lot of raw materials. At that time, the price of global waste rose sharply. A piece of scrap iron rose from 1 yuan to 3 yuan, and my life gradually improved.

The land I bought is used as a studio, and part of it is an open space for adopted stray dogs. The stray dog is actually the same as the garbage and was discarded. By now I should have assisted 700 stray dogs and helped them recover. Sometimes I think that I am similar to a stray dog, because I often look for rubbish in the garbage dump, similar to how stray dogs search for food in trash cans.

I am actually living a relatively primitive life now – I get up at 4am or 5am in the morning, I don’t have a TV or a network at home, and I go to the “junk market” for a holiday. I drive my van to Yonghe in New Taipei City. There is a market under the bridge, which specialises in selling recycled or discarded items.

I feel that I still have a lot of things to do. The environmental protection is a “cause and effect” situation. For the sake of the next generation, I hope that this society will no longer be so wasteful.

 

 My environmentally friendly tips:

1. Old quilts from winter can be used after repair

2  Buy less things. When you buy more, you waste more.

3. If there’s no environmental protection, there won’t be a home

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