|http://www.sina.com.cn 2005/04/05 14:39 北京青年报|
President Hu Jintao's call for more personal responsibility in helping to protect and improve the environment resonates very strongly in my heart; as does the government's call for a green Olympics. It makes me think about what I can do as a guest who has lived in Beijing for almost four years now and has observed the city becoming ever more beautiful, with more trees, shrubs, flowers and lawns turning it into a real garden city.
But one aspect of the pollution that is very noticeable in this windy city is the plastic bags that swirl gracefully among the tall buildings till they are captured by some tree branch or that skitter along the roadways and sidewalks until they are picked up by the sanitation workers. But too often these ubiquitous plastic bags end up in the city's potentially lovely waterways and, just as bad, in farmers' fields. This floating trash clogs the waterways, clutters the fields, ruins the gardens and blights the trees.
I have the perfect readymade Chinese solution for this problem, but it is a solution that many Chinese, especially younger city folk, have abandoned: those wonderful cloth bags with the circular plastic rings as handles. I have three of them. I had them made in Wuwei during a visit there 3 years ago because I couldn't find any in Beijing. When I lived in Lanzhou between 1990 and 1993, we all carried those marvelous environmentally friendly bags everywhere. Shops didn't give out plastic bags in those days and the environment was better off as a result. When I returned to China in 2001, the cloth bags were nowhere to be seen in Beijing. So I had three made, two black ones for "dress" occasions when I wanted to look more elegant while shopping on Wangfujing or at the World Trade Center and a much larger one in an odd green for shopping for household items at Tiankelong, buying fresh vegetables at the local farmers' market, or purchasing sandpaper, nails and hand tools at the hardware shop.
I seem to be an object of amusement to many Chinese. This is partly because I always wear what could be called fancy silk tangzhuang when teaching or going to upscale functions, or padded cotton jackets and vests when walking around the neighborhood. I love these clothes because they are more comfortable than the suits and ties I would probable have worn to teach class in the US, and also because they look so much better than American men's clothes.
But another reason I get laughed at is my cloth bags. The other day I had some very heavy things to carry and my Chinese friend wanted to get a sanlunche to transport them across campus. When I insisted on carrying them in my cloth bags hooked together like saddle bags over my shoulder, one in front of me and one behind, he suggested that I wait until after dark so that no one would witness me looking like an old farmer. But I persisted and, sure enough, not only did people stare at me and laugh but some actually pointed me out to their friends. Well, I enjoyed it too. I feel proud of my cloth bags and every time I use them instead of the awful plastic bags I feel good about the fact that at least there will not be another plastic bag flying around the city because of Lao Du's carelessness.
I am a proud old man but no one can make me feel shame or embarrassment for using my cloth bags and thereby helping, in my oh-so-small way, to keep the environment cleaner. I recommend that we make these old-style Chinese cloth bags fashionable again! Won't you join me and all my Chinese colleagues of my age and make a "new trend" of the old practice for the sake of China's environment?
我是个自尊自重的老人，但是，当我使用布袋并通过这一微不足道的方式来使环境更清洁时，任何人都不会让我感到不光彩或是尴尬。我建议，让我们把这些老式的中式布袋重新“时髦”起来。你难道不想加入到我以及所有与我年纪相仿的中国同事们的行列，为了中国的环境将这一老式做法促成“新潮”？(作者：David Toole 美国)