Tzu Chi in Action: Cleaning Beaches and Building Community While Helping the Planet

Greater Washington D.C.  |  July 13, 2023
Parents participating in the beach cleanup carefully searched for trash in the forest, especially in corners where people don’t normally look. Photo/Wendy Tsai

Written by Siang Ying Goh
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Patrick McShane

On June 3rd, 2023 a group of about 20 students, teachers, parents, and admin staff of Tzu Chi Academy, Washington D.C. joined together to take care of the Earth as a part of the local community’s beach cleanup initiative.

The neighborhood taking part in the beach cleanup is located near Chesapeake Bay, which is shaped like the intertwining roots of a tree. For many years, the residents of the Bay have relied on agriculture and fisheries to make a living. Due to the large amount of garbage thrown away in recent years, the water around the bay has been seriously polluted, and the aquatic life has gradually disappeared. “Our community has a lot of waste that will pollute the largest estuary in the United States, Chesapeake Bay if not properly disposed of,” the principal told the audience.

With the help of volunteers and parents, tools and gloves were distributed for picking up and loading trash. Photo/Wendy Tsai
Countless glass shards, bottle caps, and cans could be seen on the road, everyone stopped and cleaned up along the way to help protect the environment. Photo/Wendy Tsai

To begin the effort volunteers and parents distributed tools and gloves for picking up and loading garbage. Everyone was excited to start looking for garbage as the beach cleanup began.

Countless glass shards, bottle caps, cans, and even cabinets and various kinds of decoration materials could be seen on the road. Residents in the neighborhood were using their backyard forests as a dumping ground. It was shocking to see discarded trash as far as the eye could see.

Teachers, students, and parents who participated in the beach cleanup shared their experiences with each other and carefully searched for trash in the forest, especially in areas where people are less likely to notice, to make sure that wherever they walked, the trash disappeared as well.

During the event, parents cleaned up garbage along the path together with their children, setting an example of caring for the environment. Photo/Wendy Tsai
Parents cleaned their children's hands after the event. Photo/ Wendy Tsai

The hands-on beach cleanup activity gave everyone a deeper understanding of environmental protection. TJ Lau, 12 years old, shared, “The forest is the habitat of humans, animals, and plants, we should take good care of the environment and create a clean and comfortable space for them.”

I am glad to have the opportunity to use my small power to move forward step by step towards greening the environment.

Tzu Chi volunteers prepared thoughtful gifts for the award-winning students. Photo/Xinyi Li

In the process of picking up garbage, the students realized that all kinds of waste were scattered on the beach. Whether it was intentionally thrown away or inadvertently forgotten, every piece will have a great negative impact on the natural and living environment if not cleaned up in time.

Parents were also happy to participate in this parent-child activity, which is both environmentally friendly and educational. During the event, parents cleaned up garbage along the path together with their children, setting an example of maintaining a clean earth.

The beach cleanup activity is a cycle of love and goodness, which not only protects the local marine ecosystem but also helps to slow down the warming of the earth, in the hope that human beings can always have a bountiful and livable home on this beautiful planet.

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