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Shanghai housewives give lesson in green living

Xinhua, July 2, 2014 Adjust font size:

Dubbed "green housewives," a group of Communist Party members in Shanghai have won recognition for grassroots initiatives that have included weaving with waste, creating their own solar and wind power systems, and planting crops on urban rooftops.

Green Housewives is now registered as a nongovernment organization.

"We are not necessarily wealthy, but many of us have plenty of time," said Shang Yanhua, Party head of the residential community of the Meilong Third Village in Xuhui District.

She said she believes that doing good is key if community activities are to attract public participation.

A third of the residents in the 2,300-household village are middle-aged or seniors.

Shang organizes volunteers to collect discarded milk boxes and sews them together to make shopping bags and aprons. They have also recycled wool from unwanted sweaters and used it to make new ones.

Most of the products are used by group members themselves or donated to the needy. With such methods, the neighborhood has managed to recycle dozens of tons of garbage over the past year.

Shang and her fellow volunteers also invite locals to plant vegetables in the community or at home in small lots.

"The green housewives promote environmental protection and public welfare, and many of our middle-aged and elderly people enjoy participating," said a resident surnamed Song who tends one of the lots.

Among the 1,000-plus "farmers" are retirees, office workers and children, who are responsible for ridging, watering and fertilizing.

In 2011, Shang contacted the Beijing Global Village Environmental Education Center, an NGO engaged in green efforts. Its chief later visited Shang's village and offered her 100,000 yuan (US$16,000) in funding.

In 2012, the work of the community in cooperation with the center was recognized by the Ministry of Science and Technology, which awarded them 200,000 yuan.

Learning of the housewives' achievements, UNESCO used them as a case study in 2013. Later that year, Shang registered the Green Housewives NGO.

In March last year, the State Council encouraged the development of social organizations engaged in science, public welfare and community services.

"Grassroots Party members, through cooperation with social organizations or creation of their own social organizations, can positively influence the general public," Shang said.

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