1999 / 10月
Tseng Chao-yu /tr. by Mark Caltonhill
Having moved to Australia, a large country with relatively few people, where everyday we enjoy the benefits of abundant sunshine, air and water, we have learnt to treat Nature as a friend. We've planted a vegetable plot in our backyard, and have also learnt a little farming. We've bought two rubbish recycling boxes from the municipal government, which we use to compost each day's fruit and vegetable scraps. The box produces lots of earthworms which, by consuming the food residues, manufacture a rich and fertile soil. This can be used to fertilize plants and fruit trees, not only saving money, but also reducing pollution. It really is an excellent business. Being able to produce earthworms myself, and seeing people at the Australian Garden Exhibition Center specializing in selling earthworms, has given me a great sense of achievement.
The local government in each district of Melbourne distributes plastic bags to every household to encourage residents to separate bottles and cans for recycling. One day each month is designated "paper recycling day." On the appointed day, everybody stacks the household's used newspapers into piles beside their trash cans, which are then taken away by collectors who drive around in specialized vehicles. Perhaps it is because the area in which we live is a relatively new community, or perhaps because the local government is wealthier, the dustbins provided to each household are bigger than what you find elsewhere. Moreover, the garbage trucks are mechanized. The driver never leaves the vehicle as the mechanized arms extend, grab the trash cans and pour the garbage directly into the sealed inner chamber of the vehicle. It is extremely rapid and clean.
In response to local residents' wishes, the local government in this district recently distributed trash cans in three different sizes and colors. Black ones are for ordinary garbage, red ones for garden waste, whilst half of the green ones are used for paper and half for recyclable bottles and cans. On the day they arrived at our home, my son delightedly told his little sister, "Quick, help me push the trash cans indoors. The trash can has just given birth to two baby cans, one boy (the black one) and one girl (the red one)!" The local government had attached a color-coded calendar indicating when we ought to put out which kind of trash can. With the right equipment, sorting out different categories of garbage becomes effortless.
In addition to garbage separation, we strive for simplicity in our daily lives. By buying smaller quantities of food we can allow the supermarkets to act as our refrigerators. By eating all the food in our home refrigerator each week before stocking up again, we can avoid storing a year's worth of food that we may end up throwing out. A quick thought of the many starving refugees around the world is sufficient to kick that habit! Actually, this approach has yet another advantage-by occasionally scraping together the odd remaining ingredients, one can invent new recipes that turn out to be surprisingly delicious.
The plastic bags provided by supermarkets make just about the best garbage bags. Some people go even one better, using their own bags to go shopping, thus saving one more plastic bag and making one more contribution to environmental protection. At supermarket entrances there is a box to encourage shoppers to return plastic bags for recycling. The State of Victoria's Department of Environmental Protection has printed posters reminding people to apply the "three Rs" principle to their use of plastic bags: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. A couple of days ago during a trip to a pharmacy, I discovered that Australia also has a special agency for recycling unused household drugs as these too can cause pollution.
One finds Salvation Army thrift stores everywhere in Australia. Along with the bustling flea-markets, weekend garage sales and sales of old textbooks in schools, these are all are expressions of Australian people's awareness of the value of things. Volume 199 of Taiwan's Commonwealth Magazine carried an article by Yang Ma-li entitled "Canberra Prepares for Zero Garbage Plan." It is clear that Australia is devoted to environmental protection.
As a citizen of the earth, it is truly a pleasure to enjoy the earth's abundant natural beauty. We must all do what we can to help keep the planet clean!
June 5th each year is World Environment Day, commemorating June 5th 1972 when the United Nations convened the first meeting of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. The Australian environmental protection agency issued an appeal for the first World Environment Day in 1976 in order to work toward the objective of preserving "a world in which the air remains fit to breathe, the water remains fit to drink and the soil remains productive." Let us hope that we can all unite behind this objective, and do our bit for the environment at all times.
Local governments in Australia issue each household with special trash cans for different categories of garbage. The government's concern encourages everyone to strengthen their resolve to work for environmental protection.