Jun 24 2012 - 9:23am
Our time in Beijing went quickly. It was a bittersweet feeling to leave since the past few weeks were amazing.
We visited the 2008 Beijing Olympic stadium (the Bird's Nest) and the Water Cube. During this visit we could appreciate the size of the Olympic complex and what China wanted to project to the world: a modern, clean, vibrant, and technologically advanced capital. The site was very impressive, but not without some human cost as we were told that several communities were displaced to make space for the Olympic Green. We also attended a lecture on the social and economic costs that these mega events had for China.
During our last week in Beijing we went to Mentougou, an eco-restoration project on the outskirts of Beijing. This was a blighted area that used to be a sand mine. The municipal government of Beijing and a group of environmentalists revitalized this land. It is currently a public park visited by many people in the city.
One of the highlights of our time in Beijing was visiting the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. This non-governmental organization creates and manages a comprehensive "pollution map." This map is an efficient database that compiles information on all companies that currently manufacture goods in Beijing. This database provides detailed information on the manufacturing practices for companies, lenders, and more importantly, customers, to track the environmental practices of national and international megabrands.
Our tour of a solid waste sorting plant and a solid waste landfill was very interesting. We learned how recyclables are sorted and how the rest of the waste is "piled" in a landfill for compost. This is one of several practices, along with incineration that cities perform to dispose of urban garbage. Both disposal practices have come a long way toward improving their processes, however, none of them are clean solutions to the garbage disposal problem. The only real solution that remains is to reduce the amount of garbage citizens produce in the office, school, and at home.
Capping off our time in Beijing we visited "Carrot Farm," a for-profit social venture that helps rural farmers increase their production, while educating children in farming and ecology.
Our time in Beijing was not entirely all work- we had a lot of fun too with tours of the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Lama Temple. We left Beijing knowing there was so much more to see and learn.
We thank our hosts from Beida University for all of their help, guidance, and friendship during our time in Beijing. We learned so much from them, and hope that the learning experience was mutual.