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United Nation Environment Assembly (UNEA4) 3/14 Session


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From Trash to Treasures: Community-Driven Approaches to Sustainable Consumption

About The Event

This side-event will be an interactive panel discussion, showcasing projects addressing environment and sustainability, including Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Trash into Gold program, where PET waste is collected and processed into household items, as well as education programs that teach practical sustainable practices that individuals and their communities may implement. Further, this session will also showcase the organization’s partners’ innovative projects and approaches, including Solar Cooker International’s innovative yet simple solar cookers, which use the power of the sun to cook–a much cleaner, environmentally responsible alternative to traditional gas and electric stoves. Lastly, Green Fighter will discuss the role of youths in community engagement efforts, such as Solar Cooking and Trash-into-Gold, to resolve environmental challenges. These programs are demonstrations of what is possible when governments, the private sector, and the communities and its people collaborate and work together. As the world’s human population grows and development accelerates, more must be done to address responsible consumption; a broader range of stakeholders must be engaged and empowered, transforming apathy into action.


This session will explore innovative, practical, community-driven approaches that seek to find inclusive solutions that address environmental challenges. Innovation can arise non conventionally, not only from the tech sector, but from within local communities, education, and even faith, or perhaps all three and every other sector. Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation’s recycling program, “Trash into Gold,” is one such example that merges the three, where local volunteers collect plastic bottle waste in their own communities to be reprocessed into household items to be used for charity and aid, all the while educating their community, small and large, in sustainable and green living and consumption. The event will explore the benefits and challenges of implementing this program, as well as the approaches and programs of Tzu Chi’s partners, the benefits of community-building, and how governments can partner with the private sector to implement similar programs to address challenges to waste management and energy consumption. Tzu Chi hopes to create an open dialogue between civil society and governments in order to address waste management challenges and to spur opportunities to form relationships between public and private sectors to find solutions to this global issue.

  • Lori Chen, Department Senior Specialist, DaAi Technology
    • Theme: Turn “Trash into Gold”, community-building and outcomes of the program, collaborations across different sections.
  • Alan Bigalow, Science Director, Solar Cookers International
    • Theme: Solar cooking, community-building to gain support from solar cooking.
  • Karangwa Emmanuel, Chief of Operation, The Green Fighter
    • Theme: Youth engagement, community education
  • Marshall Tsai, Jing Si Technology
    • Theme: Love and the Circular economy
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