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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Our little actions could help save the earth

My company would organise a social work trip annually. I believe it’s a form of corporate social responsibility. However for last year, instead of doing social work, the focus was on environmental protection. Sometime last year, my company organised an awareness trip to Tzu Chi (慈济).

Even though Tzu Chi is a Buddhist organisation, I believe that charity and the love for human beings and our earth transcends all religions. Hence, even though I’m a Christian (sort of a non practicing one I always tell people jokingly), I stepped into the simple white building somewhere in the east of Singapore with an open mind and learnt so much from the trip.


~*More about Tzu Chi*~

Tzu Chi strive to carry out the “Four Missions” and “Eight Footsteps” in the local community.

The eight footsteps include:
charitable services
medical care
moral development
humanity activities
international relief
bone marrow donation
environmental protection
community volunteerism


We learnt quite a bit about how Tzu Chi has helped in the 8 realms but as mentioned at the beginning of this post, our focus for the trip was on environmental protection. Read more on Tzu Chi’s take on environmental protection here.

It doesn’t need an arm and a leg to contribute to saving the environment.

We watched videos of all the recent natural disasters and learn more about how our human actions have impacted on the environment. Ever noticed how our weather climate is going haywire over the years and at the multitude of natural disasters of late? It is all due to our selfish disregard for Gaia.

We also watched a very entertaining yet poignant video on how a pig farmer could no longer bear seeing his pigs slaughtered and how he and his pigs became vegetarians eventually.

I will include the video and the translation at the end of my post so as not to break the flow. I hope all of you could take some time to watch the video and for my non-Chinese readers, I’ve spent some time including the English translation.

After that, we toured around the building to learn more about the other footsteps of the organisation. Finally, we had hands on experience sorting out the various types of metals and plastics to recycle as well as dismantling old casette tapes and sort out the parts to be recycled. I would have loved to stay to do more sorting but there wasn't enough time.

I managed to talk to a volunteer who explained how volunteering really helps people feel good about themselves and about helping others; how they have many Christians and Muslim volunteers devoting their time to help others via Tzu Chi despite it being a buddhist organisation.

Back in the hall, we learnt how to "sing" a song about love using hand signals which I personally did not like as I'm bad at it. I was thinking more of going back to the shed to help sort the recyclable materials. =P


I’m sure some of you know the reasons why people become vegetarian -- religious reasons, the love for animals, health reasons so on and so forth.

On the last pointer, many of you know that being a vegetarian not only serve as a preventive measure to human epidemics with animal origins such as mad cow disease or any avian flu. But do you know that being a vegetarian would help save the environment as well?

The primary benefit of adopting a meatless diet is the reduction of raising livestock which often costs excessive deforestation, ecosystem disruption, as well as air and water pollution. More importantly, the grains that were used to feed livestock could feed millions of people suffering from hunger.

To put it simply, you can do your part in saving the environment and keeping calamities at bay by going vegetarian.

I know it’s tough for many of us “meatarians” to go vegetarian all of a sudden and I’m not forcing any of you reading this to become a vegetarian.

For my part, I go vegetarian once or twice a week. I’m one who can’t live without meat so doing this is just something small which I can contribute to the environment. If more of us were to go vegetarian once or twice a week, I’m sure it would help in a way. As a Chinese saying goes '积少成多' (pronounced as ji shao cheng duo) loosely translated as many small things could accumulate into big things. Every small little effort counts and these could spread exponentially to people all around the world.

Another small effort you can put in to save our earth is to use your own utensils instead of using those disposable plastic forks and spoons and wooden chopsticks. This applies to all who often have “takeway” meals.

Imagine the number of such utensils you throw away in your whole lifetime should you eat takeway meals every day. That, times the number of people doing so, it adds up to lots of ammunition to kill Gaia.

I’m one who always buy my food up to my desk and I’m guilty of having killed many trees and contributing to those mountains of non biodegradable plastics cast away in some landfills.

My highly environmentally-friendly good friend xtina got me this pair of Winnie the Pooh chopsticks.


I’ve been using them for all my noodle meals in the office for the past 3 years. That probably saved half a tree? Nonetheless, if more of us could use our own chopsticks, we could save a football field size of trees or even more.

Winnie the Pooh saved the trees but it couldn’t decrease the number of plastics on our land. I was still using disposable plastic spoons to drink my soup with.

Hence, “mini pink DS Lite” comes to the rescue!



Now, I’ve got fork and spoon to go with my chopsticks. The set by the way also includes chopsticks but I can’t use my fork and spoon if i use them as chopsticks you see. From then onwards, Winnie the Pooh loves playing with mini DS Lite during meal times.


That answers all of you from the previous post. My dear friend citrella is a genius who guessed it correctly and I reckon it’s coz this travel utensils syndrome is gradually catching up in Singapore.

I bought my mini pink DS Lite from Tzu Chi’s environmental shop by the way. They also sell dri-fit clothes and blankets which are made from recycled plastics! I’m really amazed coz the dri fit fabric feels so cooling and smooth to the touch whereas the blanket feels so warm and snuggly. These blankets are exactly those which they use to bring relief to disaster-struck areas for the victims to keep warm under whenever Tzu Chi volunteers in national relief.

I also bought warm socks for both sets of parents and for kh and myself as sleeping with our feet covered promotes overall well-being. Unfortunately, the fabric for these socks aren’t made from recycled plastics. I thought I could help save the environment in the process.


Some mini books were handed out to us as a token of appreciation. I love some of the quotes in there. Though the teachings inside are buddhist-oriented, they are all-encompassing as long as you’re human.



~*Video on the vegetarian pig farmer*~

The video is in Mandarin and a little Hokkien but with a some help from a Singaporean vegan blogger and modifications on my part, I’ve included the translations below the video.

The man in the video was previously a pig farmer. During peak periods, the number of pigs could go up to 160. His family has been raising pigs for more than 20 years, but he doesn’t dare to eat pork. In 2009, he decided to forgo his pig raising business and become a vegetarian. He treat the remaining pigs as his pets now and feed them a vegetarian diet.

When asked why he decide to forgo his pig raising business

In a usual visit from the pig dealer to catch his pigs to send for slaughter, what is usually done is they will put a sack over the pigs' head and the pig dealer will pull the pigs by the tail up to the vehicle. The pigs will normally criy out loudly and resist. However on one of the visits, there was one pig that behaved very differently, it was silent when the pig farmer pulled it. It simply looked at the pig farmer with souful eyes as if asking, "Where am I going?" Then it walked up the vehicle itself with great pride and never once looking back at the man anymore. The farmer was taken aback by this reaction and thus was not able to sleep that night. At 3am, he sped to the abattoir determined to buy the pig back at twice the amount, but by the time he arrived, only the pig’s trotter was left.

The farmer felt anguished that he could not save that pig when it had actually saved him, allowing him to discover that animals are full of sentience.

When asked what do pigs eat to grow

He asserts that whether pigs are fat depends on how people feed them. If he wants the pig to be fat in a certain area, he can control it. If he wants the pig to sleep for more than 10 hours, he can control it. He controls by using medicine to inject the pigs with and also adding hormones in the pig feed. During cold or hot days when the pigs can't sleep, or if they don't eat as much, such hormonal stuff would be once again fed to them which will control their appetite to encourage them to eat again. It is not because the pigs are naturally hungry that they eat, but they eat because there is no choice, they are controlled.

Usually after eating meat, you may feel tired, want to sleep, or when women have their menstruation earlier, these are due to the contents in the pig feed. These contents are still widely used today as farmers like to use it due to the ease of controlling the pigs.

When asked what benefits are there letting the pigs eat a vegetarian diet

He showed three tubs of pig feed. One contained only vegetables which did not have worms/maggots in it. The tub with milk and egg grew some small worms. The tub with meat were infested with big fat worms.

His pigs have been vegetarian for four months and they have slimmed down and look better. Ordinarily, pigs will fall sick when they slim down, but not these vegetarian pigs. They were beautifully slim with a healthier coat of fur as what he claims. Even the farmer himself on his vegetarian diet slimmed down and some of his ailments resolved themselves. He also feels a lot more energetic and healthier. He showed one pig whose leg was almost gone from a big tumour growing on it, but after eating a vegetarian diet, the tumour disppeared.

When asked whether he considered letting someone else raise his pigs

He said he considers his pigs as his own children so he wouldn't just give them away no matter how difficult it will be for himself to raise all his pigs.

When asked how he faces challenges in rearing his pigs

He asserts that it’s not difficult at all and at times when he sits down and looks at his pigs, his stress dissipates and he feels at ease. He addresses himself as “daddy” when he speaks to his pigs.


I would be really impressed and grateful at the same time if you have read up till this point of my extremely lengthy post.

I hope that this sharing would motivate some of you to put environmental protection into action in your daily lives. I have shown that it could be as simple as what I’m currently doing and I hope that this isn’t a difficult practice to adopt for you.
You can get the ball rolling by throwing your unwanted paper, plastic, glass and metal into recycle bins instead of the dustbin for a start.

Remember, every little effort counts.

Credit: Some of the information in this post is taken from various parts in the Tzu Chi organisation website and has been put together and modified slightly by me.


  1. That's a really good reminder. Im also guilty of wasting a lot of things and totally guilty of creating a lot of garbage esp plastic bags, disposable plastics.

    I used to recycle a lot of things when we had recycling bins provided. Now, we dont have those bins and so I got too lazy to drive the stuff to the recycling centre. =(

    Mini pink DS lite??!! lol. Ingenius

  2. Those are 8 great goals, that's a worthwile organization.

    During Lent I always skip meat on Fridays, but just on a regular basis it's normal for that to happen. I'm still an omnivore, but since I do like different foods, I can go days without meat just by coincidence.

    I thought that box had something to do with food! =)

  3. Wow what an insightful company trip! I know what you mean about going vegetarian! I was a vegetarian for 3 months before my family and bf asked me to stop because they though I'd be too skinny and I did because I still live with my parents but I told myself when I move out Im going to be a vegetarian again. I know lots of people have "meatless mondays" but for me it's going to be gthe opposite and I will eat meat once a week only lol! I think it's more normal that way, in fact sometimes I go through a whole day without eating meat and not knowing it, I just tend to eat and pick things without meat in it! ><

    Im glad there are farmers out there like this one. I love animals, even pigs and it feels nice to know that someone out there cares about the well being of stock and domesticated animals.

    Do you go afternoon tea often too? I really love it and Im super glad my bf doesn't really mind going with me =P Thanks for coming by my blog and leaving such a sweet comment, your welcomed there anytime!!!

  4. That's a good idea to go vegetarian at least once or twice a week. I have tried to go full on vegetarian in the past and have failed after about a month but to ease into it would be probably my best bet. Great post!!

  5. wow i'm over and over impressed of your motivation of writing so much and being so passionate about this whole tzu chi issue. it was more than interesting to read through your experience and how you personally try to contribute in a positive way to save the world.
    it's so true that if everyone would care a little more it would definitely make a difference but unfortunately there is this thing in all human beings called "ignorance" and i think that's the reason many of us don't even try to change something. i mean you don't need to go out on the streets with a greenpeace group to save the trees but as you said... just trying to use own , personal chopsticks or trying to disclaim something (like meat) is already a step into the right direction.
    thank you for sharing this & thank you for inspiring me..!

    oh and btw i often have those layout problems ... i don't know how it goes since i'm not really talented in finding out such things.. :/

    xxx love

  6. Thanks for sharing! I think you have several very good points.
    I hope I don't sound like a show-off or anything, but recycling has always been something I try to do at every given opportunity. Back when I was working at an office, the amount of paper used each day honestly shocked me. Unfortunately, I feel that there are a lot of things I can't do for the environment (I have to use paper, I have to use plastic bags etc.), so the least I can do is recycle them. Even at home, we have a main rubbish bag, then little little bags for us to separate the glass, plastic and paper.

    That cutlery set is TOO cute!! I want one of those! I'm definitely getting one when I start working (I envision a lot of eating-at-cubicle while working times).

  7. Wait let me see what I missed first:

    I saw tzu chi and immediately thought 舒淇, because her cantonese name would be shu - kei. HAHAHAHAHA. I think she's a nice actress but my cousin hates her because she gained fame by doing nude stuff... eh. A lot of ppl did that. Even like mark walberg or matt daemon have done those types of movies.

  8. Now. Do you know how weird it was for me to see you write "oh your drawings are pretty.... pretty ugly that is" on the bus and start smiling XD You actually tricked me into thinking you liked them!! Sigh. I think my drawings are awesome :P

    None of us were scared when the school was locked down. Mostly because the stupid announcement system only said to stay in your classroom, and didn't TELL any of us what was going on. I guess they don't want to scare people. But all the classrooms were told to close the door and lock them and I could see the helmets running around outside. Kind of cool to be honest~ I was excited like a kid to see SWAT and I was like "LOOK LOOK SWAT TEAM". Some hispanic classmate told me to shut up, so I looked at him and he goes "what? i'll kick your ass" and then I thought about walking towards him but seeing so many cops outside made me think twice. I remember this incident so well I dunno why. That classmate was an idiot, failed everything, so I guess all he could do is talk tough? Makes me mad just thinking about it.

  9. ran out of space.

    I will definitely buy my girlfriend stuff I want her to wear when I am in a long term relationship. I'm not very materialistic either but I always wish just once on a Friday sometimes, we could go all out and walk downtown in the fanciest stuff. I want her to be in a black dress and wear louboutin with ribbons and holding a black vintage chanel wallet. I'd like that =D

    -I speak loud when I need to. I learned to be assertive after a while. But yes I think normally I still talk kind of softly. I don't know if that's good or bad in your eyes. Some girls like gentlemen, some girls hate guys who don't act like criminals.

    Stay classy now.

  10. This was a great post to read Jo :) That's really good that you're trying to be more environmentally friendly and reminding your readers to do the same. I don't think I could ever become a vegetarian though - I know a few ppl who are and I've seen them lose a lot of weight from it. Idk if they're not eating enough calories or what, but I don't want to be any skinner than I already am ><

    The mini pink ds lite set is really cute! And genius too :D I love how everything screws in together so it saves space. I am going to buy a set of cute utensils for the office too hehe.

  11. hahaha yes strawberry is lot more pleasant sounding isn't it? My bf thinks so too LOL I know what you mean about making he larger pictures as wide as the body but so far Im having a bit of trouble with that and Im still trying to figure out what it is >< Maybe when I do posts with super large photos I will need to rework my blog a bit =(

    Thanks for the flower and following! Oh and no pressures if you want to stop following, wouldn't want you to follow a blog you find boring and just feeling "obligated" to hit the follower button <-- I've had some issues with blogging etiquette lately ,maybe I should make a post about it =S

  12. Squeeze the Pug,

    Ah, time to start being environment-conscious again. Most of my plastic bags are used as garbage bags. All my paper, boxes, plastic are thrown into the recycle bin religiously. My hubby doesn’t understand why I do that coz he told me he saw the garbage collecting truck emptying all the stuff in the rubbish bin and the recycling bin into the same compartment. I don’t know if he saw wrongly. It would be really terrible if that’s true.



    I can go days without meat by coincidence too! Ah yes, when I read your reply about the fondue fork, I thought you were almost there since it contains a fork too! Thanx for your email!


    suki pooki,

    Great to hear insights from you. You sound like a huge animal lover and I wish you could attain your goal of being a vegetarian by choice. I could go without meat by coincidence too just that I cannot totally give it up coz I love so many different types of meat. Lots of my vegetarian friends are very skinny too.

    I go for high tea with my girl friends once in a while but never with my hubby. =)

    If you upload your photos via blogger, choosing the large size when uploading would defnitely be bigger than those currently on your blog but it could be due to some coding of your template too.

    Oh please don’t worry about the following. I’m selective about whom I follow and I certainly don’t feel obliged to follow you at all. As long as the blogger or the blog contents catches my attention in some way, I’ll follow the blog. I followed you coz I like what I read and I know I’ll be looking out for more things from your blog. I’m not those kind who expects people to return the favour when I follow them too so no worries at all. =) Blogging etiquette? I would love to read your post on that! I do not really appreciate people who do not even bother to read my posts and expect me to follow them just by leaving a cursory comment. There are lots of people like that out there nowadays. It’s like “collecting” followers. =(



    I’m very sure you’ll be able to ease into going partial vegetarian. All the best!


  13. ATW,

    Hehe... I did the write up on my off day when I didn’t feel like working. By the time I posted, I was surprised myself at the length. I hope I haven’t bored my readers and I really appreciate you taking the time to read the whole post.

    I’m glad to hear that you’re inspired and I hope you also slowly incorporate these little actions in your life too to save the earth.

    As for the layout problem, if you type eveything in the compose mode. The paragraph will go wonky. It’ll only be neatly spaced out in the html mode. Last time I could switch between both modes with no problem at all.



    You certainly didn’t come across to me as a show off at all so don’t worry about that. =) I’m so glad to read about all the things you did for the environment. I do that too and it’s nice to find someone similar. Keep it up!
    Yup, you should get one of these babies. They’re so useful!



    Your comments never fail to make me literally LOL. I saw shu qi’s nude photos before. Gosh... it looks really hardcore though it’s classified as soft.

    You’re always on the bus eh? Are you in HK or Canada now? Ran out of space? I didn’t know blogger has a word limit for comment. I guess coz you typed it on your phone? I should get one of these smart phones pretty soon so I could reply to comments on the 45min MRT train ride to work. It’ll certainly save a lot of time!

    Thanx for sharing your experience and your views. OMG! I’m gonna show my hubby what you say about loubies and vintage chanel wallet!!! LOL... I’m gonna tell him that my turtle blogger friend is such a romantic person who’ll buy those for his gf to wear on a date night.

    About the volume, no good or bad... Just wondering how you would sound like. =)
    I will try to stay classy! Been so bz recently.



    I lot of my vegetarian friends are really skinny too and for the same reason as you, i dont think I can be a full vegetarian too.

    You’ve been missed! I read about your computer dying. No wonder you were missing for some time. I hope you’ll find your balance in work and personal life in time to come when you get more accustomed to it. =)

  14. It's so weird. Blogger doesn't accept too long a comment now and I've gotta break my replies up instead of having them all in one post.

  15. No probz! Hope you found my post useful and thanx for following. =)

  16. this is probably the sweetest thing ive read!! i love piggies, i even have a tattoo of a pig!! that farmer is awesome!! i want to give him a big hug and lots of praises for stopping an end to what he was doing before!!! i really love this post!!! thanks for sharing <3

  17. augustalolita,

    Thank you for your sweet comment. Great to see newcomers here. =)

    You have a tattoo of a pig? On which part of your body? Is it a cartoon pig or a life like one?

  18. This is such a meaningful post. I think your company is quite good to organise such trips to let people know more about the environment. And it’s good that everyone do our own part to help too. The pink utensils are so pretty. I want them too!

  19. I hope this post would encourage more people to be aware of the environment and to know thay their little actions would help contribute. I hope it has also inspired you too. Go get a “mini ds lite” for yourself too!

  20. Great post, Jo! I know it's a challenge for people who have been raised as meat-eaters to transition to vegetarianism. It's great even just to do a small part. I've been vegetarian since I was quite young, I made the decision despite being brought up eating meat. It's a lot easier to do than most people think!

    I'm really amazed at that farmer and his vegetarian pigs! I don't know very much about changing animals' diets, but it's definitely interesting.

  21. Shabby,

    You’ve been gone for ages! Welcome back. Well, sometimes I tend to subconsciously pick dishes without meat so I guess it’s actually not as tough to go vegetarian too. However, I still love some textured meat in my diet and hence the semi vegetarian diet per week.

  22. Wow the video about the Pig Farmer was so inspirational - thanks for translating.

  23. Blush,

    I would always sit up and take note whenever people comment on my past post. Especially since this post was written 2 years ago. Thanx for reading and taking the time to comment on this inspirational post. =)


I love reading sincere comments and hearing your voice. While blatant self promotion of blogs and follow for follow requests are not advisable, I would love if you leave a mark here with a trackback link so that I could connect with you. I reply to comments here or on your blog so don't forget to check back on replies! =)


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