Wednesday, Oct 23

Charity group deploys volunteers to recycle on Election Day

May 13, 2013 | Lineth Brondial and Nyanza Nakar

At least 2,000 volunteers of the Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines position in 200 polling precincts in Quezon City, Marikina City, San Juan City and San Mateo, Rizal on Election Day to help clean the schools defiled by election paraphernalia, scattered plastic bottles and other scraps. In total, four tons of recyclables were gathered from all locations. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】

Story Highlights

  • Despite the exhausting work all Tzu Chi volunteers endured to contribute to the success of the event last May 12, at least 2,000 volunteers still took part in the recycling activity held on the Election Day, May 13.

  • Volunteers covered about 200 designated polling stations in Manila, Quezon City, Marikina City, San Juan City and San Mateo, Rizal.

  • A total of four tons of recyclables such as election paraphernalia, plastic bottles, cartons and assorted plastics were collected from all recycling stations that day.


Recycling on Election Day was the next effort that busied the volunteers of Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines after marking its 47th anniversary with a huge-scale rice distribution to more than 10,000 families yesterday.

Although the occasion rendered many volunteers exhausted, at least 2,000 of them still managed to show up early on May 13 to help clean the polling stations defiled by election paraphernalia, scattered plastic bottles and other scraps.  This, for one great cause: environmental protection.

“I am thankful for the response of our Filipino volunteers. We know they were tired from the big event we had yesterday but they showed us the spirit of perseverance by coming to this recycling activity,” said Chinese Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao.

Siao related volunteers were deployed to about 200 polling stations in Quezon City, Marikina City, San Juan City, Manila and San Mateo, Rizal starting 6am, even an hour earlier than the start of the voting time.

In every designated recycling station, volunteers set up at least one booth where they can sort the recyclables they collected within the day. Trash bins were labelled by type such as PET bottles, papers, glass, aluminum cans and others. In total, four tons of recyclables were gathered from all locations.

Tzu Chi volunteer Shirley Glovo said the recycling effort was a way to do two good things at the same time: to show their concern for the environment while helping hand-in-hand with other like-minded groups. “We don’t actually feel tired because we are happy with what we do,” she said.

Eddie Montoya, 34, was filled with enthusiasm while going from one precinct to another, picking up papers and plastics left by voters. “I collect papers and other trash in the rooms so that when other voters come in, the room is clean and they will also be reminded to keep it clean,” he said, wearing his uniform and a Tzu Chi cap on.

The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is a non-government organization that strictly follows two principles in undertaking its missions: no political attachment and no conversion of religion.

Rosalinda Clemente, principal of Laong Laan Elementary School in Manila, lauded the volunteers for keeping up with their advocacy and helping to promote “clean elections, clean schools”.

“Whenever Election Day comes, we anticipate the school grounds to be dirty due to the volume of people coming in and out here. We are happy with the effort of the Tzu Chi volunteers because we were able to save manpower and in return, we were also given the chance to contribute to their altruistic initiative,” she said.

Prior this day, Tzu Chi Foundation inked a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Education on May 6, officially allowing Tzu Chi volunteers to conduct recycling in concerned public elementary schools during Election Day.

Recycling, however, has been a long-time project of the Buddhist organization since it was founded 47 years ago. Tzu Chi’s branch in the Philippines has partnered with the local government units of Marikina City, some barangays in Quezon City and the whole province of Rizal to push though with the advocacy.

The foundation’s main branch in Taiwan houses a state-of-the-art facility that transforms PET bottles into fine textiles such as blanket, pants, jacket and shirts among others. Meanwhile, aside from helping to prevent environmental degradation, the sales incurred from the recyclables here are converted into charity funds to aid disaster victims and indigent families.

Observing the volunteer’s initiative, Zhang Ming, a photographer of Chinese News Service, praised the volunteers’ effort in launching the recycling activity and clean-up drive. He said it was the first time that he witnessed a group pushing forth such advocacy on Election Day.

“I have been to many polling stations, caught sight of the trashes scattered around and then I saw volunteers collecting recyclables. They are doing a unique kind of public service and also educate voters about environmental protection,” he said.

Prior the Election Day, the organization’s three-in-one event was highlighted by a remarkable human formation, beautifully composed by more than 5,000 volunteers and supporters.