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Xianju sets an example for clean growth

By Erik Nilsson (China Daily) Updated : 2017-11-17


A bridge between mountains in the Shenxianju scenic zone in Xianju county.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Lin also advocates the reduction of food waste and donations of secondhand items.

The government has introduced a "1-3-5" recommendation in which, one day a week, people walk to work if their jobs are closer than 3 kilometers and bike if they're within 5 km.

Zhu says he rides rather than drives.

Public institutions and private enterprises are encouraged to agree to a "green convention" about behaviors they voluntarily assume.

Offices are encouraged to go paperless and print on both sides if physical copies are necessary. Workers are expected to turn off the lights and airconditioning when they, say, leave for lunch.

A system similar to the green convention offers guidelines for ordinary people.

Danzhu township has issued 10 suggestions for residents, including sorting trash, repurposing old items and refraining from littering.

"There isn't a tradition of sorting garbage in villages," publicity officer Zheng Yi says.

"We want to change mentalities."

Teams inspect homes to see if they're in compliance. Those who are receive small gifts, such as towels, detergent and thermoses. Households who separate kitchen waste and recyclable items earn 1 yuan (15 cents) a day after 30 days.

But it is more of an ethical than a material concern, Zheng explains. "If people's morality is enriched, they're more likely to engage in green behavior," he says.

Villages also form women's and Party volunteer teams to promote green behaviors.

A peculiar park in Xiachenzhu village bears testimony to the ethos. Four walls constructed with materials recycled from collapsed farmhouses stand in a field previously occupied by tombs, pigpens and a manure pit.

"We let the weeds grow so villagers appreciate nature," Zheng says.

But while there are no punishments for violating the guidelines, Xianju has also introduced punishable environmental ordinances.

Villagers organize patrols of up to five people to monitor behaviors along waterways and in forests.

Fines ranging from 500 to 10,000 yuan are issued for illegal fishing, dumping trash, camping and fires along Xiachenzhu's Weiqiang River, for instance.

It's a question of guidelines versus red lines. "It's a gradual process," Lin explains.

"Interestingly, villagers have done a better job than urban residents. Although people in the city typically have more education … Supervision isn't enough. We need to do more."

Xing Yi contributed to this story.

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