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Chinese villages can be like rubbish dumps

BEIJING (UCAN): During the three-day red pollution alert in Beijing from December 8 to 10, the government placed limits on use of cars, operations at factories and construction sites were suspended or scaled back, and schools closed.

During the same three days, a group of sisters from the Family of Dawn congregation spent their time educating volunteers and children in neighbouring Hebei province on how to cut down on the amount of garbage they produce and using normally wasted food as organic fertiliser.

Sister Wang Qingfen, from a Church-run orphanage for children with disabilities, said, “We try to handle as much garbage as we can so as not to increase pressure on society in waste disposal.”

Sister Wang explained that the environment is a major problem in villages in China where rubbish disposal is hardly addressed, leaving streets and laneways strewn with rotting food, packaging, old clothing and other unwanted items.

“It makes us feel like China is a country of garbage,” Sister Wang commented.

In November, the orphanage opened a shop to sell hand-me-down clothes and other second-hand items.

“We can help prevent waste if we can collect these used clothes and resell them. We find that people buy too many clothes. Some were thrown away after being worn only a few times,” she said.

Figures from the Ministry of Urban/Rural Development show that China’s 650-million rural population produces 110 million tons of garbage a year, with 70 million tons being dumped without primary sorting.

On November 30, the state council approved a government effort to reduce rural household garbage in more than 90 per cent of Chinese villages by 2020.

A lack of understanding of the natural landscape also is a cause of big problems. Franciscan Sister Yuen Mei-fun pointed out that rural people do not have much knowledge about the harm logging causes, which results in denuded mountains and the consequent landslides that occur in heavy rain.

The Macau-based superior-general of the Chinese province of the Franciscans was awarded an educational merit medal by the Macau government December 7 for her efforts in environmental protection at the St. Rosa of Lima School, of which she is the director.

The congregation is also incorporating its environmental awareness lessons into its formation programmes for sisters and in China, encouraging them to pass on their knowledge to those among whom they minister.

“But the difficulty for them is insufficient information flow. Many Chinese people do not understand the seriousness of pollution and its impact,” Sister Yuen said.


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