More than a month after the Yushu earthquake on the 14th of April, many environmental-protection organisations have already started to consider the earthquake’s environmental fallout.
The “Heart tied to Yushu” organisation formed spontaneously after the earthquake, made up of Tibetan minority youth scattered around China, predominantly students. On the 15th of May, six members of the group gathered in Beijing for an environmental conference and presented their work.
Among the members was Duo Jie, now a student at Hebei Normal university. In the past he has visited Lhasa to raise the profile of environmental-protection movement "I love green Lhasa". When participating in the Yushu relief campaign, he discovered that many of the goods sent to help Yushu were disposable. Even if they helped to solve the immediate problems, a large quantity of non-biodegradable industrial products bring with them the hidden danger of pollution.
Zhang Boju, member of environmental-protection organisation Friends of Nature, went to Yushu in May to investigate the garbage problem. He said that after the calamity there certainly have been waste treatment and hygiene problems. When providing disaster relief, life comes first, and you cannot take into account whether or not the products used are environmentally friendly. Only afterwards can you adopt measures to abate pollution.
As to the present, and rather serious, white pollution problem in the disaster area, Duo Jie thinks that cleaning up is useless. They want to encourage environmental protection and promote change through awareness. Duo says that, during the summer vacation, they plan to take the experience he had in Lhasa to Yushu, and call it "I love green Yushu". He thinks that doing this kind of propaganda movements is very easy and he's also ready to use the money raised for the relief of the area to buy solar-energy stoves and other environmentally friendly products to distribute in the disaster areas.
Yin Hang works in the "Mountains and water natural protection centre", an environmental protection organisation. In Yushu, she discovered that when water is taken directly from the river to store for civil use, it is sometimes taken just a few metres down from where people are doing their laundry. And Yushu hasn’t had all the trash collected as a consequence of so many disasters.
Yushu is located in the sensitive area of the Three Rivers. Local government plans for reconstruction in the area, include a focus on ecotourism, which will definitely attract many tourists. It is extremely important that the garbage and sanitation management systems and the work and modes of production are completed in line with ecological demands.