Every day, Taipei residents and guests of the Taiwanese capital are crowding at the doors of the Buddhist Lunshan Temple. For tourists, this is just a beautiful landmark, but for the local people the place is among the largest religious sanctuaries in the country. It was built in 1738, but many times it suffered from earthquakes, wars and fires. With faith and patience, people have lifted it up again and again. The last major destructions were in 1945 - during the US bombing. Today there does not seem to be any trace of the Second World War, and the temple is always full of people - mainly Buddhists, but also Taoists and even pilgrims of Matsu - the Chinese saint's mythological patron. Besides all the ornaments typical of such a religious sanctuary, this temple is most surprisingly an owner of a system for reporting of air cleanliness.
In one corner, right next to the place where the candy sticks are sold, is installed a big plasma screen, which reports the results not only in Taipei, but also across the country. At first glance, it seems like strange decision.
What could be the explanation for this? Maybeа hint that even in the most intimate communion with God, the Taiwanese people never forgot to ask for more pure air? The explanation is actually different.
The aromatic sticks in the eastern temples are like the candles in our churches. They are part of the sacrament of prayer to God.
Usually people take the least 7 sticks. Some people order two, three or more times 7. They think that the more sticks they kindle to Buddha, the more likely he is to hear their wishes. As we do sometimes with candles.
Taiwanese environmental authorities, however, calculate everything in carbon emissions. More aromatic sticks for Buddha do not mean more desires, but more polluted air. Therefore, a limitation has been introduced, according to which an aromatic stick is sufficient for prayer. Therefore, there is a monitor of air cleanliness over the desk where the sticks are bought - as logical as it is indicative of the fact that in Taiwan they rely less on the divine than on their own human powers to deal with ecological problems.
This is the country in which most surprisingly there are no trash cans, but everywhere is amazingly clean.
How is that possible? Trash in Taiwan is gathering so precisely that there is no need for garbage bins on the streets. People themselves reduce what they throw away because most of the materials are recyclable, and that’s how they could make some money. Why you should throw money out оn the street, say the Taiwanese. At the same time, they have to buy the bags of different colors on their own for separate garbage collection, which, despite all the sorting, is still left and should be thrown out at the designated points. Thus, with the commitment of every citizen in this country, the problem of domestic waste is solved. But Taiwan has the ambition to solve much bigger problems. Both their own and foreign.
By 2025, the country should be free from nuclear power, and in the coming years drastically reduce dependence on thermal power plants - the biggest polluters of nature, switching to renewable energy sources.
Taiwan is even committed to aiding poor countries such as the Solomon Islands, which are threatened by global warming because of the highly industrialized countries.
Until 30 years ago, Taiwan has been focused mainly on its business upsurge and the rapidly growing gross domestic product. But with the enrichment came the existential questions. Is money all? If we ruin the place we live in, what's the point? Isn’t it better to leave to the future generations what we have inherited from our ancestors - a wonderfully beautiful island in the middle of the ocean?
Today, unskilled farmers and poor fishermen have long been gone. This is a country with a 98.5% literate population and a thriving middle class in which tolerance is erected in cult (the first country in Asia to have same-sex marriages) in which a woman is elected for head of the state and 30% of the deputies are also female.
In terms of quality of life, Taiwan is at the top of the annual world rankings. All institutions, university centers and great brains in the country are dedicating themselves to the green future and renewable energies.
Leader in eco-industries is the Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute. Founded in 1973, the institute now has a budget of $ 650 million (75% of funding is provided by the state, the remaining 25% is taken over by the private sector). Taiwan has one of the best sewer systems in the world with 91% coverage. Even the urinals in the notorious Skyscraper 101 in Taipei are working with filtered rainwater.
The public library at Baitou Park in the Taiwanese capital is the first green building in the country. It's a futuristic wooden structure whose clever roof collects and filters rainwater. Photovoltaics turn sunlight into electric lighting. The building is in perfect harmony with the beautiful park, which was built in 2006. Its appearance is of great interest, but today there are so many smart and green buildings on the island that this type of construction is already considered a normal practice.
Taiwan is very seriously focused on the development of solar and wind power plants. The government has announced it has a goal to install solar panels on 1 million roofs in the country. The expected energy capacity of the roof photovoltaics is about 3.5 GW.
Solar panels, however, have a shelf life that is periodically exhausted and needs to be replaced with new ones. Once they are out of use, they become unusable rubbish that pollutes nature. However, these old panels have silicon and therefore should not be discarded. Get Green Energy Company in Taichung, Central Taiwan, recycles photovoltaics and semiconductors, turning them into a variety of things. There are also many other companies involved in the recycling of solar panels, but this оne is known for having developed its unique waste-free technology.
The old panels are reduced to a suspension of 99.99% purity. It is used for the production of lithium batteries and in nanotechnology. The rest is subjected to chemical treatment and recycling without residual material. The main product that the company develops is an insulating, anti-allergenic and antibacterial super material, resembling the unique properties of polar bears' fur, including good protection against radiation. From this kind of fluffy fabric they make clothes, shoes, sports and household items.
Taiwan is at first place in the world on recycling of plastic bottles and a sludge of coffee and respectively to produce the widest range of products from them.
One of the green hits on the island is called Gogoro, a company that offers not just electric scooters but a way of thinking and lifestyle. Apart from appearing very sexy in the eyes of many young Taiwanese, these electric scooters are compatible with the owner's personal smartphone. But the company also offers a whole network of services. You can charge or borrow an already charged battery for your scooter from the neighborhood supermarket. No gas and waste!
Taiwan's motorways are being paid, but there are no systems of toll tax anywhere. This is because of the green and smart transportation system - a chip that is installed in the cars to account the fees due.
At the same time, cyclists are booming on the island. This is probably related to the fact that there are 300 km of cycling roads in Taiwan.
In Taiwan, everything eco, smart and green is sexy!