Tue, Oct 04, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Environmentalist collects trash on islandwide walks

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

Lin Ming-teh, right, known as “Taiwan’s Forrest Gump,” yesterday visits Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen at his office after completing another round-the-island tour to promote environmental protection.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

“Taiwan’s Forest Gump” Lin Ming-te (林明德), a 65-year-old environmental protection volunteer who has embarked on several nationwide trips on foot to collect garbage along the way, met Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) at the minister’s office yesterday to give the government some advice on garbage reduction.

Lin began his sixth trip around Taiwan on Jan. 19 and has traveled through 22 counties and cities.

Upon coming back to Taipei for a break, he met Shen to share his thoughts on what the government could do to help improve the environment.

Lin has devoted himself to cleaning up the environment over the past 13 years by picking up every piece of garbage he sees on his walks and promoting the idea of keeping the environment clean for future generations.

Lin said the government should take the lead in cutting down on pollution by ending fireworks displays and banning the use of sky lanterns during festivals.

“In the past, firecrackers and lanterns were used for communication across long distances, but now they’re only set off for -entertainment,” Lin said, adding that “the government should stop spending huge amounts of money to pollute the environment for fun and should enforce strict regulations on such behavior.”

Shen said that dealing with pollution was a difficult task because fireworks and sky lanterns are traditional customs, so pressuring politicians to regulate these behavior will take time.

Shen said he agreed with Lin’s suggestion that environmental protection evaluations should be taken into consideration when allocating the central government’s Tax Redistribution Fund, adding that this would pressure local governments to protect their environments in order to secure their budgets.

Lin said environmental education and spreading the message of keeping Taiwan clean were important and that each individual could make a difference.

As a metaphor of the power of the individual, he said: “A watermelon seed is only about 0.074g, but it can grow to become a big watermelon of 12kg, so we shouldn’t underestimate what we can do to help the environment.”

Over his years of cleaning up the nation, Lin said he most often saw bottles littered along roads.

Local officials should walk, or at least ride bicycles to inspect their jurisdictions so that they can understand the litter situation, instead of setting creating policies from the comfort of government offices or passing through towns in fast-moving vehicles, he said.

Shen said there is a slogan written in front of his office that says “take garbage back to its home, the streets aren’t a garbage can,” and that is what he said his agency wishes to promote to the public.

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