Forest Song, a team dedicated to environmental protection, was established at Peking University (PKU) in October 2009. Made up of students from PKU's School of City and Environment, the team aspires to provide guidance on low-carbon campus life.
The aim of the team is "to utilize what we learned at university to guide our lives," according to team founders Sun Tong and Fan Jingyi.
Plant vs. Rubbish
A vine of ivy winding around a treble clef and musical notes, representing environmental friendliness and the vitality of youth, is the symbol of the Forest Song team.
"Many environmental protection teams have named their organizations using a variation on the word 'green.' I think 'forest' means green, without actually using the word," Fan told Beijing Review.
The team came up with a plan to recycle waste and plant trees at the university. It encourages students to open a personal "green savings account" in which they deposit money earned from recycling waste as funds for planting trees on campus and other environmental protection activities.
"As students, we can hardly launch large-scale energy conservation or carbon emissions reduction campaigns, but what we can do is plant trees to increase carbon dioxide capture and storage (a process in which trees capture carbon dioxide from the air)," said Fan.
Every student can play his or her own part in the green movement through small lifestyle changes, Sun said, like conserving water and trying not to throw away food.
The team recently put up posters with the slogan Plant vs. Rubbish, which is borrowed from the title of a popular computer game—Plant vs. Corpse—to capture their classmates' attention.
Due to the novelty, practicality and feasibility of the programs it has carried out, Forest Song has made remarkable contributions to PKU's development of an eco-friendly campus and gained recognition from experts. At the end of 2009, the team entered the national final of the "White Plus Black" National College Environmental Protection Competition as the champion of the north China region.
Birth and missions
Sun was once proud of his hometown Dalian, a northern city famous for its urban planning. But in his City Ecology course, he learned that the large lawns and squares in Dalian, though beautiful, are actually water-consuming and of little function.
Learning these things challenged Sun's thinking, aroused his interest in green issues and inspired him to apply his knowledge to environment-improving practices.
Fan, born in south China's Guangzhou Province, has been recognized as an "environmental protection star" since she was in middle school. In 2006, she was awarded first prize in the Fourth Competition of Chinese Middle School Students' Water-Tech Inventions and elected Guangzhou's Environmental Protection Ambassador. In July 2007, Fan participated in an exchange program in London as one of the Climate Cool Chinese Young Ambassadors.
Low-carbon campus life
On the evening of November 12, 2009, the surface of beautiful Weiming Lake at PKU was studded with crystal ice lamps. In the eyes of the Forest Song team, the ice represented glaciers while the flames symbolized human civilization. The team organized this activity to raise college students' awareness of environmental issues.
"We can do many things in addition to low-carbon publicity on campus," said Sun.
In 2008, Sun and Fan conducted research on the use of electricity at their university. They found that many students prefer to use rooms with higher electricity consumption. Thus, they submitted a report to PKU's management suggesting that the university reduce opening hours in rooms that consume more electricity, and extend opening hours in those that consume less electricity.
Another initiative of Forest Song in the promotion of a low-carbon lifestyle is the No Waste of Food program. The team noticed that many students have a habit of dumping their uneaten food—a problem more serious in university canteens than at home. The team has therefore called on students to save food by publicizing the fact that any remnants of meals mean more carbon emissions at each stage of food production.
"Forest Song will be busier in 2010," said Sun. "We are starting a new project called Carbon Footprint right after the New Year's holiday, and we will enter a national university competition on hi-tech achievements with the new project."