SHANGHAI, China — Frustrated with watching people throw away rubbish without considering the impact on the environment, Lingtao Kong wanted to take a stand. Fresh out of university, he decided to set up a project to raise awareness of recycling.
“It is so easy to simply throw something in the bin without thinking about the severe consequences. People do not realise that the way they recycle their daily rubbish could make a huge difference on the environment and their own lives,” Kong said.
Kong is one of 60 shortlisted applicants for Ford's 2011 Conservation and Environmental Grants, China programme (CEGC) following the first round of judging. The narrowed down candidates were considered the most innovative and potentially effective of the more than 120 submissions received in the past three months.
Since October 28, volunteers from Ford China have been conducting field investigations to find out the ongoing progress of the candidate projects. Site investigation of the projects will continue until November 15.
Among the projects is Kong's Greener Shanghai Action (GSA), which was nominated under the Leadership in Environmental Conservation category of CEGC.
Four years ago, after graduating from Shanghai University, Kong saw how much the poor rubbish recycling system could pollute the environment and harm people’s lives, which is when he came up with his GSA idea.
“My vision is to use a simple and engaging recycling incentive programme called ‘Green Account’ to encourage more people to participate in daily environmental initiatives with our project – GSA,” he said.
Almost every day, Kong sets up rubbish recycling stands in communities, government buildings and office buildings throughout Shanghai. The first time someone brings recyclable items such as paper, bottles, printer ink cartridges, past-date medicine, etc., they are given a Green Account card. The card works like an airline frequent flyer card – the more items you recycle, the more points you get. These points can be redeemed for small gifts or donated to GSA to purchase books and stationery for rural schools.
After Kong collects all the recycling items from the different stands at the end of the month, he packages them up and sends them to professional waste disposal companies.
Jess Zhang, from Ford China Communications, volunteered to investigate the GSA project. She brought four used batteries to a GSA recycling stand located in the Shanghai Minhang district government office and opened her Green Account.
“I collected one point by recycling four used batteries, but it's significant in my life to start accumulating my green credit for the community. I will also encourage my family and friends to join," Zhang said.
“Kong's story moved me a lot since he started this project with no income or resources. He doesn't make money out of this, and has used his own money to keep the project running. We can all help save the planet by doing small things like this, little by little, more and more,” Zhang added.
Projects such as Kong's are all in the spirit of CEGC, which was stressed by Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford APA, when CEGC kicked off in August.
“The CEGC programme was created to promote and award environmental conservation initiatives from individuals and grassroot organisations across China. It is the extraordinary spirit demonstrated by these ordinary people in what they do against the odds which has inspired us over the past 11 years of the programme,” Hinrichs said.
So far, 25,000 people, about one in every 1,000 registered Shanghai citizens, have opened their Green Account with GSA, which recently partnered with 27 universities and colleges to launch a series of campaigns on campuses to further promote the project among students.
Talking about the biggest challenge facing GSA, Kong said, “We do need a bigger volunteering team to promote the campaign and more money to run and grow the project, and this is why I applied for the Ford CEGC programme. We would like to see more and more people take part in green action and make this world a better place to live.”
About this year’s CEGC:
The 2011 CEGC evaluation process is led by a panel of Chinese environmental pioneers, including leading government, NGO, academic, and media representatives.
The winners will be announced in early December. This year’s CEGC programme will award 54 grants totalling RMB 1.5 million (USD 231,000) in three categories, with the first prize winner to receive a cash reward of RMB 200,000 (USD 32,000).
CEGC is one of the leading corporate-run environmental conservation programmes in China. Since its launch in 2000, the programme has awarded a total of RMB 11.1 million (USD 1.71 million) to 224 trailblazing grassroot organisations and individuals.
|Jess Zhang opened her green account when she did the site investigation.
||Kong gives lectures to Shanghai communities and schools.
||Kong interacts with the children.|
|Kong addresses the kids about recycling.
||Awareness of recycling has been raised through the project.