Written and adapted by Susan Chou, Tim Lee Guohua Zhang, & Pin Hau Chiou
Translated by Wei Qingjun
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto
On May 26, 2019, Tzu Chi USA’s New York Chapter was invited to participate in the Passport to Taiwan event at Union Square. At the event, Tzu Chi volunteers showcased the manufacturing process of eco-friendly fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles by DA.AI Technology Tzu Chi volunteers’ introduction of eco-friendly products helped raise awareness for a different means of environmental protection among the audiences.
The annual Passport to Taiwan event is co-sponsored by the New York City Council, the New York State Legislature and CultureAid NYC. Beginning in 2002, it quickly became a major event for Taiwanese Americans.
One-Stop Environmental Protection
The theme of Tzu Chi New York’s booth was that of environmental protection, which stood out among the various food stands and commercial booths.
It was a hot day at Union Square, surpassing 86 degrees Fahrenheit, but volunteers were motivated! By 9:30 AM, they’d set up their booth, which included a machine to showcase the eco-friendly manufacturing process, as well as different products to display the quality of the fabric.
One of our Tzu Chi volunteers, Tim Lee, was especially drawn to introducing the environmental manufacturing process. With the help of other volunteers, he rehearsed his presentation and gathered valuable advice from his fellows. After four hours into the event, Tzu Chi’s booth had already sold $1,017 worth of eco-friendly products.
Eco-Friendly Products and Concepts
As the event started, waves of people gathered in front of Tzu Chi’s booth. Volunteers each had their own tasks — from introducing Tzu Chi’s mission, to its environmental concepts, products, and actions. It was a unique chance to both encourage more people to try for a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as increase people’s knowledge of Tzu Chi.
John Chun Liu, a member of the New York State Senate for the 11th District in northeast Queens, visited our founder, Dharma Master Cheng Yen, in Hualien this past March. While in Taiwan, he also paid a visit to the Neihu Recycling Station.
On the day of the event, Senator John Chun Liu took time out of his busy schedule to visit Tzu Chi’s booth to learn more about the benefits of Tzu Chi’s Eco-friendly products and technology can bring to our daily lives.
The machine at the display showed the audience how our eco-friendly fabric is produced. A Tzu Chi volunteer explained that by using high temperatures, plastic can be melted and turned into incredible products.
Volunteers showed some of their clothing to those gathered as an example. “Wow, it’s very soft!” The audience was surprised that it was made with only seven water bottles.
Among those in the crowd, Hayley Miller especially liked the environmentally-friendly products. “This is beautiful! This, too, is [made from water bottles]?” she asked, and said that the cloth looked beautiful on volunteers.
During an interview, Hayley mentioned that she was very impressed by Tzu Chi’s use of recycled plastic bottles during our disaster relief efforts. She even bought one of our eco-friendly items for herself!
Tzu Chi members follow the ‘3R’ principles — reduce, reuse, recycle — in order to live a more sustainable life. Hayley told Tzu Chi volunteers that her mother works for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and hoped that there would be further cooperation between the two organizations in the future.
Bringing It to Brazil
Yuli Chen lives in Hawaii, but had come to visit her parents in New York. She remembered Tzu Chi from our disaster relief distribution last summer after Volcano Kilauea erupted. She was happy to see Tzu Chi volunteers again at the Passport to Taiwan event.
After the introduction of DA.AI recycling technology, Yuli Chen thought it was absolutely magical. She believes that every community should recycle, and was very surprised to discover that as an NGO, Tzu Chi also cares deeply about the planet. She also hoped that the United States and other countries would embrace these principles as well — to take on Tzu Chi’s model of compassion, and learn to develop a more effective means of recycling.
Green from the Origin
A Tzu Chi volunteer named Tim Lee mentioned that introducing the technology to more than one hundred people was a bit challenging for him. Among the audience, there were Chinese speakers, English speakers, and those who spoke even more languages. He sought to convey Tzu Chi’s environmental mission to all with great care and diligence.
Tim Lee believed that by showing the eco-friendly shirts on volunteers and presenting our eco-blankets, people were able to see that Tzu Chi is truly devoted to taking substantial strides to help the environment. People’s responses to Tzu Chi’s presentation was overwhelmingly positive! Many were surprised to learn there was an organization who’d been taking care of Mother Earth with such technology.
Many people do not fully grasp the paramount importance of taking care of the environment, nor the consequences that are born from abusing it. Recycling is only a small part of helping the planet and all the beings we share it with. What’s perhaps more significant is the lessening of society’s dependence on plastic products from their origin. Tzu Chi members wished to spread this concept as well. In addition to recycling, environmental education must also include ways of reducing the many types of plastics that make it into our homes.
At the event, Tzu Chi volunteers also took the opportunity to raise awareness for a new policy which will be implemented next March — using plastic bags will soon be subject to a surcharge of 5 cents per bag. Volunteers hoped to remind those gathered, and offer alternatives to the single-use plastic bags.
Every product at the display had its own story. Wearing their eco-shirts and using bags made from eco-fabric, Tzu Chi volunteers showed people the possibilities of recycled plastic and how these products can be reused. Thus, they also planted the seeds of environmental protection in the minds and hearts of the individuals there to grow and flourish.