Reusable grocery bags are certainly not a new concept in the USA - and now it's catching on in China. A group of US college students who are volunteering at the US Pavilion are teaming up with Chinese teenagers to help spread the word about the waste created by single-use plastic bags.
The American Student Ambassadors at the USA Pavilion are volunteering on their days off outside of the Shanghai Expo Park to spread eco-friendly concepts to primary and middle school students scattered across Shanghai.
Named "No Plastic Campaign," the USA Pavilion is working in tandem with the Shanghai chapter of Roots & Shoots, a global environmental and humanitarian organization, to deliver their shared sustainable messages. Student Ambassadors capped off the campaign today in a classroom at Shanghai Foreign Language School located in the city's northeastern Hongkou District, just in time for World Environment Day on June 5th.
The U.S. Student Ambassadors delivered their presentation about the harms of plastic bags in Mandarin Chinese, encouraging the school children to use eco-friendly products, such as energy-saving light bulbs and reusable canvas bags, to reduce pollution. The event concluded with a hands-on session asking the school children to share their own "green dreams" by painting them on blank canvas bags that they were able to take home and use.
"Although our stay in Shanghai is only three months, we are pleased to help the local community become cleaner and more sustainable," said Trevor Weltman from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. "My hometown in Detroit, Michigan is also attempting to deal sustainably with environmental issues. We are glad to join with and empower our peers in China in the fight against pollution."
The "No Plastic Campaign" promotes the idea that simple habit changes - like that of using reusable and recyclable cloth bags - make a big difference in terms of environment protection. The USA Pavilion's Student Ambassadors also brought this message to workshops held in primary schools in the city's Putuo, Songjiang and Xuhui districts over the previous weeks.
"I am proud to have our student ambassadors sharing their volunteer spirits outside of Expo grounds," said U.S.
Commissioner General Jose H. Villarreal. "I believe that their behavior exemplifies the sustainable living and environment protection themes of the Shanghai World Expo in general, and I am happy to see them reaching out to the greater Shanghai community."
The 168 Mandarin-speaking Student Ambassadors are drawn from various disciplines of American colleges in 38 states, serving as guides and national representatives for the United States at the Shanghai Expo. They are divided into two groups and the first group of students arrived in Shanghai on April 15th. They will serve through the end of July when a second group will take over until the end of October.
At more than 60,000 square feet (6,000 square meters), the USA Pavilion is one of the largest national pavilions at the Expo. With the theme of "Rising to the Challenge," the United States presence will showcase American culture, values, innovation and business in one of China's most dynamic cities, while celebrating the friendship and cooperation between the United States, China and the rest of the world.