Written by Chao Hwa Chen, Judy Su, Anna Hua, Kunvui Chew, Iris Wang,
Translated by Ariel Chan
Edited by Patrick McShane
Every April 22nd is Earth Day. On this special day in 2023, the Tzu Chi Miami Service Center and Miami Tzu Chi Academy collaborated with nearly 100 community volunteers, teachers, students, and parents to cherish the earth through their own actions by taking part in Miami-Dade County, Florida’s annual “Baynanza Beach Cleanup.” This year’s “Baynanza 2023” marked the first time that Tzu Chi Academy has resumed beach cleaning as a form of outdoor learning since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Environmental Protection Promotes Growth & Self-Discipline
On April 15th, 2023, volunteers and parents began the day by distributing beach cleaning tools, gloves, garbage bags, and other supplies in preparation for the beach cleaning event. Tzu Chi Collegiate Association (Tzu Ching) and Tzu Chi Youth Association (Tzu Shao) enthusiastically participated in the day’s work and learned from the beach cleaning activity that, whether unintentional or intentional, any waste left on the beach will pollute the ocean. To preserve the beauty of the coastline, everyone must actively clean the beach.
Environmental protection has always been a core component of Tzu Chi’s humanistic education. School parents and volunteers organized a humanistic class with the theme of marine environmental protection, providing trivia and creative lectures so that students could understand the importance of marine resources, the impact of marine pollution on the earth, and what actions and efforts can be made for marine environmental protection. This special course prepared students for the upcoming beach cleanup activity while inspiring them to engage what they have learned creatively.
Kunvui Chew felt that beach pollution had improved a lot compared to years past: “My family has only collected 10 pounds of garbage in two to three hours; five years ago, we collected more than 20 pounds. However, hopefully, in the near future, there will be less and less garbage. We must understand the problem of global warming and educate ourselves and our young children about environmental protection. Caring for the environment reflects growth and self-discipline.”
Everyone Does Their Part for Marine Environmental Protection
Iris Wang participated in the beach cleanup for the second time with her family: “We brought our two boys over to help them understand the importance of a clean coastline for marine animals and the environment; seeing so many bottle caps, cans and garbage on the coastline made us sad and angry. We are sad because this trash is bad for the environment and marine life. We are angry because people who go to the beach should be more responsible for our collective environment. Please keep the beaches clean for our children and grandchildren.”
“We learn from practice. Today has been a wonderful environmental class. We put into practice what we have learned in the environmental protection seminar from the academy. We were in the Oleta River State Park for only two hours today, but we found a lot of trash left by visitors, such as plastic water bottle caps, beer can lids, straws, broken plastic, whole PET bottles, etc.” Anna Hua thanked Tzu Chi for combining marine environmental protection teaching in the classroom with a beach cleanup activity outside of class so that everyone can learn from practice. This is her first time participating in a beach cleanup, but it won’t be the last, and she aspires to pay more attention to the environment and participate in more community cleanup activities in the future.
Practice Environmentally Friendly Habits
The hands-on beach cleaning activity gave participants a deeper understanding of marine conservation. Some volunteers said that it was a special opportunity to volunteer with their children: “They usually come to the beach to play, but today, they are very focused on collecting beach litter. When everyone sees some tiny waste on the beach, they deeply understand the importance of not littering in order to protect the earth. Trash on the beach will be swept into the sea in an instant, where it will be unable to decompose and damage the food chain of marine animals.”
To protect the ocean, we must start from the source, and everyone needs to work together to promote the green attitude of “Leave no trace! No plastic! Reuse!” Volunteer Judy Su additionally shared, “We can try to change our living and consumption habits: try to reduce plastic in daily consumption, bring your own food boxes and shopping bags, reuse them as much as possible, and separate waste for recycling.”
Parents are very happy to participate in this parent-child activity while engaging in environmental protection education. Parents and children volunteer as a family, set an example, and work together to maintain a clean environment.