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Taichung grandmother a model environmentalist

Taichung grandmother a model environmentalist

Taipei, April 22 (CNA) An elderly woman in central Taiwan, who together with her husband set up a charitable recycling operation nearly 10 years ago, has finally gained recognition for the green life she leads and for helping others do the same.
Sixty-eight year-old Chang Su-mei from Daya Township in Taichung County was cited Wednesday by neighbors of her community on World Earth Day as an environmental protection role model, in recognition of her continued dedication to protecting the earth and recycling.
For the better part of the past 10 years, Chang has devoted herself to a recycling center built on land owned by her husband's family after an earthquake in September 1999 devastated much of central Taiwan.
Chang said she and her husband donated the land after being inspired by the rebuilding efforts of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation in the aftermath of the temblor, which left nearly 2,400 people dead and some 11,000 injured islandwide.
Following in the footsteps of Tzu Chi -- which has long operated major recycling centers in Taiwan -- Chang has managed the recycling center since it was established. The center sorts, recovers and sells recyclable materials, and turns over the proceeds to charity.
It has gradually made a name for itself in the community, as many Daya residents now send Chang their reusable cans and containers, knowing any benefits will go to the needy.
Of all the garbage that Chang has handled, plastic bags are the biggest headache, she says. She urged consumers to use as few plastic bags as possible since plastic is not biodegradable, and creates a great burden on the earth and the environment.
Chang's recycling center also processes kitchen leftovers, which she layers with bran to produce organic compost. The compost is then used as a fertilizer on the land adjacent to the recycling center.
She said her adult children harvest safe, organic vegetables from her garden every week and take them home to consume. The children then donate the money that would have otherwise been spent on groceries to public welfare organizations.
(By Deborah Kuo)