Going Green with Compassion during the Great Kindness Challenge

National Headquarters  |  February 13, 2024
In response to the "Great Kindness Challenge", the children took home saplings and brought home green concepts and green actions!
In response to the Great Kindness Challenge, children not only brought home saplings but also environmental knowledge and plans of action! Photo/Michelle Young

Written by Michelle Young
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Patrick McShane

The Great Kindness Challenge, an initiative that has attracted over 19 million students around the world, is about to kick off again! This year’s challenge will take place from January 22nd to January 26th. Since joining the Great Kindness Challenge in 2021, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Education Foundation has introduced creative and innovative charity themes each year, connecting students around the world to do good through these fun educational activities.

The Great Kindness Challenge, organized by Kids for Peace, a Southern California non-profit organization, aims to create a more friendly school environment, prevent school bullying, and promote respect, love, and compassion on campuses and in communities. During the last week of January each year, teachers and students will complete 50 acts of kindness and share them on social media through scripts, pictures, and videos, all to promote a friendly atmosphere across diverse areas of our world.

 Every year, the announcement of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Education Foundation’s special theme is always eagerly anticipated. Last year, the Foundation designed a compassionate vegetarian meal program, while this year, the Foundation has taken environmental protection as the core theme and designed the Go Green Pledge in response to the urgency of climate change. This initiative is also in response to Master Cheng Yen’s Climate Countdown Clock, emphasizing the importance of environmental protection and care for all beings.

The Great Kindness Challenge logo. Photo/Courtesy of Great Kindness Challenge official website
The Education Foundation organizes several global online presentations introducing the Great Kindness Challenge. Photo/Michelle Young

Innovative Data Tracking Quantifies Water Saving and Carbon Reduction

Each task in this year’s Great Kindness Challenge is simple and easy to execute, yet is the sort of task that tends to be overlooked by people in their daily lives. The Education Foundation hopes that the Great Kindness Challenge could change the lifelong living habits of Tzu Chi school students, their families, and teachers, while also introducing more people to Tzu Chi’s concepts of goodness, environmental protection, and vegetarianism.

The Go Green Pledge consists of six environmental actions that can be quantified and converted based on data from highly credible organizations such as the United Nations and the New York Department of Environmental Protection. For example, if a person limits his/her weekly diet to milk, eggs, and vegetables, he or she can reduce carbon emissions by 17.3 kilograms. Likewise, if a person turns off the faucet while they brush their teeth each day for a week, he or she can save 198.98 liters of water. When environmental actions are converted to data, the results of the challenge can be visualized and understood immediately.

The Buddhist Tzu Chi Education Foundation has also launched a brand-new energy-saving and carbon-reduction data tracking sheet. The sheet is based on expert knowledge and shows energy-saving and carbon-reduction data by calculating the number of people and their environmentally friendly actions. In this way, it is possible to track the results of actions such as water conservation or energy savings when done by a group of people. Visualizing the data from the Great Kindness Challenge could effectively promote and quantify the actual results of environmental education.

Tzu Chi Go Green Pledge Completion Sheet for the event. Photo/Michelle Young
Each group’s data will be collected and the final results of the Go Green Pledge will be calculated. Photo/Michelle Young

The Education Foundation promotes the Go Green Pledge through online meetings, administration monthly meetings, staff training, and at Tzu Chi Academies nationwide. At the same time, the Foundation will also actively organize offline presentations for teachers at the Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut, California to prepare for the upcoming Great Kindness Challenge.

Teachers at the Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut hold a presentation on the Go Green Pledge initiative. Photo/Michelle Young
Teachers at the Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut host a presentation on going green and planting trees. Photo/Michelle Young

A Happy Green Class

After teachers showed students “Green Action” videos in the classroom, students were eager to share their thoughts and sketched projects they were confident they could accomplish during the Great Kindness Challenge.

Students of Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut, sketch the projects they want to accomplish during the Great Kindness Challenge. Photo/Michelle Young
Everyone looks forward to the Go Green Pledge activities. Photo/ Michelle Young

“Before throwing away food, some people need to be reminded not to waste it. My picture shows a girl serving a meal of fruit, salad, and pasta. The man in the picture says he wants pasta for lunch. And the girl says to him, ‘Please make sure you finish the pasta on your plate, don’t waste food, and please don’t come back for more food while there is still food on your plate.’” said Shiyu Zhou, a student of Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut, holding up her drawing. She said that she was well prepared for the upcoming challenge.

When you brush your teeth, you should turn off the water, otherwise the earth will have no water.

Unity of knowledge and action, and practicing what is preached has always been Tzu Chi’s educational philosophy. That’s why the teacher led the students to the Life Science Farm on the Walnut Campus to practice planting plants. At the end of the lesson, students took the freshly potted plants home to grow, in the hope of expanding the plant cover in the area and reducing atmospheric carbon.

Vivian, a K2 student at Tzu Chi Education Campus in Walnut bring plants home from school and plants them in her backyard with a big smile on her face. Photo/Michelle Young

This year’s Go Green Pledge initiative not only inspired the students’ compassion and inspired them to protect the Earth but also brought home the seeds of the practical initiative. That initiative included a new modern tracking and feedback feature: a QR code for scanning This extends the concept of environmental protection to a wider social circle, as information can be shared more easily. Students can do good deeds with friends and relatives, and then easily share their accomplishments, drawing a picture of life that combines compassion and environmental protection!

Walnut City Government invite to visit at the end of the year.
Walnut City's year-end invitation. Photo/Michelle Young

The Go Green Pledge designed by the Buddhist Tzu Chi Education Foundation impressed California state legislators during their year-end invitation process due to its thoughtful design, innovative content, and its compassion and love-filled content. Tzu Chi’s good deeds and environmental protection concepts have been recognized by the mainstream society in the U.S., like a beam of the morning sunshine, illuminating a wider sky.

Let us all look forward to the upcoming Great Kindness Challenge and work together to contribute to addressing climate change, saving energy, reducing carbon emissions, planting trees, and protecting the earth!

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