When people talk about China, they talk about pollution mainly. And YES , it’s true , we have pollution problems. But who knows that China is the biggest investor in green energy, and far ahead compare to others.
But green project and natural environment protection is not just a government affair . Appart from them, there are also simple people and small associations working on it and doing it with a lot of efficiency. On our side, with my small team we started to act ( Ref previous post ) .
But today a very nice story of an action taken on the Tibetan plateau in Qinhai province (China), was send to me. A great story that inspire me a lot and I hope lot of people will feel inspired too and take the decision to make a step for a positive change, because everybody can be part of the change.
Small streams makes big rivers !
‘Sorry No Plastic Bag’: Qinghai First Zero Waste Community
Sorry, no plastic bags in Jianzuo village. This rule equally applies to aeveryone including villagers, pilgrims and visitors, who are coming here. Visitors need to bring their own chopsticks and ensure no rubbish left behind.
Under Sanjiangyuan Ecological Environment Protection Association’s guidance and training, Jianzuo villagers and a Tibetan Lhama have founded the Dejia Ecological Learning Centre. The center aims to build Qinghai Tibetan Plateau’s number one zero waste community.
Jianzuo village is located in Sangjiangyuan source of the Lancang River. An average elevation of 4100 meters, belong to Qinghai Province, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Nangqian County. The village mainly practices animal husbandry. Sanjiangyuan is the birthplace of the Yangtze River, Yellow River and the Lancang River. The region serves as the headwaters for the population of 20 billion people in China and Asia.It is also one of the most sensitive areas for the global climate change response. The total area is 366,000 Square kilometers, its ecosystem services, natural landscape; biodiversity has a national and global interest of the being protected.
Jianzuo village used to face garbage crisis
Before 2016, Jianzuo village had faced some environmental challenges and crisis because of consuming cheap products and running unregulated industries, which caused many wastes and damage the local environment. Local villagers also did not have much awareness in protecting the environment, consuming organic food and using Tibetan sustainable traditional objects. A villager recalled his memory about the wastes caused from consuming too much junk food. He said “during the Tibetan New Year, if one family bought a box of energy drinks, the other family would compete to buy two boxes to show their wealth. Many plastic bottles and plastic packaging were discarded everywhere, which polluted the land and headwater sources. Another villager stated that his four or five yaks would die from eating plastics annually.
Today Jianzuo village has deeply changed and is closer to meet your idea of paradise: no garbage, no signal, away from the noise pollution, groups of wild animals, uninhibited grassland, hidden between these big Three Rivers.
The impact from setting up Dejia Ecological Learning Centre
A Tibetan Kunbu (doctor) named Jiangyan Xiran from Jianzuo village. He practices both Buddhism and Tibetan medicine. He teaches Dharma as well as offers free medicine to the local population.
In 2012, this Kunbu has been introduced tothe Sanjiangyuan Eco-Enviromental Protection Association (SGR)’s global Healthproject. In 2013, Kunbu became an environmental protection member of SGR and Alxa SEE.
Kunbu has realised that the increase of commercial waste has threatened Tibetan Plateau’s fragile land and wildlife in the Sangjiangyuan area. Waste produced from generation to generation, which cannot be degraded in a long run. As a result of this, it polluted the natural environment, impacted nomads’ living environment and health. Therefore, he is determined to lead and support nomads to return to the traditional lifestyle they know.
Kunbu-Jiangyang Xiran’s water protection work in Jianzuo village
Kunbu brings Dejia Monestery, Dejia Nunnery and 54 nomadic families together to found the Dejia Ecological Learning Centre on the 25th April, 2016. SGR also provided guidance to support the centre by providing relevant trainings and setting up three core values for the centre; build a zero waste community, benefiting others, and consuming organic food. Through promotion of Dejia Ecological Learning Centre, villagers are encouraged to realize these values.
Since the Dejia Ecological Learning Center has been founded, Kunbu has formed and led a team in person to clean up rubbish on the grassland, picking up every piece of waste into garbage bag by his ownhands. In 2016, the Dejia Ecological Learning Center has cleaned up 25 trucks of rubbish in local areas. Kunbu finds out that cleaning and burning rubbish is not anwering the root cause. The fundamental solution is to band plastics and junk food in the community.
The local nunnery starts to planthydroponic organic vegetables.
Building a Zero Waste Community faces many challenges
Zero waste, zero plastics sound easy but hard to achieve. Villager Tashi said “to achieve a zero waste community means rebuilding the community. For example, my family owns 45 kinds of objects made from plastic. It would take time and money to replace with Tibetan traditional objects made from wood and fabric. “
Although, gaining knowledge from the Dejia Ecological Learning Center and Kunbu’ s persistent in environment protection as well as Dharma teaching and SGR’s training, villagers are committed to build a zero waste community. During the cleaning of plastic, Kunbu collected in total of 740 plastic objects from the families and two local monasteries. After that, local people are started to reuse Tibetan traditional objects they used to have.
Kunbu’s encouragement in reviving Tibetan traditional objects
“Nowadays we use fabric bags to purchase rice; local people no longer use plastic bags. All the local shops have banned the use of plastic bags”, said a villager.
A nomad said he is feeling proud to see his village becomes the Number One Zero Waste Community in Qinghai Plateau. This is how the zero waste community started. Since then, the local environment conditions are getting better and have made rigorous progress in protecting the land. In addition, local people have found back an original healthy life as well as a revived cultural heritage.