Written by Lina Lee, Jennifer Chien, Ruilong Zhang, Li Xinyi, Tom Chen
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Patrick McShane
Every year, Tzu Chi offices around the world organize different environmental activities in April for Earth Day, which is celebrated on April 22. Every event invites local communities to learn how to live a low-carbon lifestyle that helps sustain the earth through fun and educational activities. Tzu Chi USA Headquarters held a unique “Earth Day Carnival and One-Day Marketplace” on April 8 at its San Dimas campus in Southern California. In line with the theme of the 53rd anniversary of World Earth Day, “Invest in Our Planet,” Tzu Chi encouraged people to change their dining and shopping habits, and take positive actions to help the earth thrive, save energy, and reduce carbon emissions.
Celebrate Earth Day with Joy!
The sunny weather attracted more than 300 people to the event. As soon as they entered the campus, they were soon greeted by Tzu Chi youth volunteers dressed as dinosaurs. Many children loved the dinosaur costumes and followed the youth volunteers to play on the lawn. Near the play area were three environmentally friendly game booths and several cute cartoon figures and decorations, providing fun and educational games for parents and children of all ages, so that the whole family could play games together and learn about environmental protection.
The center speakers’ stage featured a colorful parrot, which is the pet of volunteer Qiyi Qiu, the instructor of the water planting course. The parrot danced to the live music, attracting many people to record it with their cell phones or to take photos with it. People wandered around the park-like campus, breathing in the fresh air far from the hustle of the city, browsing the exhibition booths, and walking along the trail to the Headquarters’ Eco Farm to enjoy the beautiful day.
After a relaxing walk, many visitors returned to the largest tent to exchange tips and secrets on home gardening, water-saving planting, environmental enzymes, and organic composting with the environmental lecturers. Everyone encouraged each other to eat nutritiously and healthily by advocating organic planting at home. Invited lecturers held Q&A sessions and interactive games as part of the well-designed environmental protection courses. People who answered the questions correctly got a set of straw-woven hummingbird nests, which surprised the winners with their delicate and interesting designs. In order to encourage people to reduce the consumption of meat, which produces huge carbon emissions, and try to choose environmentally friendly vegetables for their diets, the Tzu Chi volunteer team cooked a nutritious and delicious vegetarian lunch for everyone in attendance so they could experience the tasty vegetarian meals.
Practicing an Environmentally Friendly Lifestyle
During the opening ceremony, Debra Boudreaux, CEO of Tzu Chi USA Headquarters, gave a short speech and recognized the long-time supporters of Tzu Chi USA, including the Haining Hometown Association and the Hainanese Association of Southern California, as well as the Tzu Chi El Monte Service Center volunteer team led by veteran volunteers James Chen, and San Dimas local volunteer Alta Skinner.
“At Tzu Chi’s World Earth Day event, we saw the young generation bring dinosaurs and parrots in their own creative way to remind everyone of the importance of living with all beings and the need for everyone to do their part,” said Tzu Chi USA CEO Debra Boudreaux, “Everyone should take action to protect the environment and be mindful of the importance of sharing the spirit of the Earth’s multidimensional culture through the Earth Day platform.”
“Today’s Farmer’s Market featured 26 booths offering a variety of products such as fruit trees, vegetable seedlings, potted plants, eco-friendly enzymes, honey, gardening products, vegetarian products, organic fruits and vegetables, and books. We hope to encourage folks to buy locally produced fruits and vegetables and products, to reduce energy consumption in transportation, and to practice environmental protection in all aspects of life,” said Jingjuan Shi, the event’s general coordinator. “At the same time, we hope that through a number of environmental protection seminars, people can better understand tips for saving energy and water at home, and learn how to turn food waste into compost or make organic enzymes at home.”
Environmental Protection is Rooted in the New Generation
This environmental protection event was well received by the public. Parents who brought their children to the event celebrated Tzu Chi’s dedication to teaching environmental education to the new generation. Weber Lai, who was in charge of the game booth, said, “We have four different types of games, each of which is easy to play and allows everyone to find creative ways to help achieve the sustainability of the earth through games, from diet to environmental protection.”
The family of Shanhui Jian had a great time playing environmental games. “This game teaches us how to be environmentally friendly and keep the earth clean. You can still have fun even if you are an adult. I had a lot of fun!” said Shanhui Jian while laughing. Ms. Lijuan Wu Jiang, the granddaughter of Shanhui Jian, agreed: “Global warming is a very urgent environmental issue, and as Master Cheng Yen said, we should help the environment at home from a young age, and teach positive actions to our own children.”
The team from the Hainan Association of Southern California was invited to accept an award and was represented by the Honorary Chairman Zhenshun Shi, who said, “I am very happy that Tzu Chi invited Hainan Association members to come and visit the Earth Day Carnival today. It was very nice to see everyone planting plants to promote environmental protection. We will also support Tzu Chi’s efforts to promote this meaningful activity.”
Celine Lugo, a neighborhood resident who brought her young daughter to the event, said approvingly. “We came here to celebrate Earth Day, this is a great model for my daughter. It’s a reminder that we can save the oceans by reducing plastic waste and also doing something locally. Yes! We should keep the earth clean when handing it over to our next generation.”
Earth Day is not only a single-day advocacy event but also expects every person to incorporate environmental protection into their lives and help the earth by reducing all kinds of pollution with loving actions.