“Back in my days, the ocean was a mystery. We only saw the peace and calm on the surface, not knowing the floor was full of trash.”

Currently 68 years old, retiree Wei Chang has joined Greenpeace as a volunteer 3 years ago. During these 3 years, Wei learned all about the current state of the ocean unbeknownst to him for the previous 65 years. 

3 years ago, Wei met an environmental education and fundraising agent at a supermarket. After learning that Greenpeace does not accept any corporate donations, Wei joined to become a donor on the spot and began his journey with Greenpeace. 

Greenpeace activists holding banners in front of Px-Mart, a supermarket chainstore in Taiwan
Greenpeace activists presented the petition supported by more than 140,000 consumers to one of the supermarket chainstore, Px-Mart, requesting plastic reduction at source.
© Greenpeace

Through the member’s newsletter, Wei found out about the recruitment of volunteers. Wei had wanted to devote his retirement life doing something meaningful, and so he began his journey as a volunteer.

The first Greenpeace event he participated in was at the exhibition of “Taking and Trapping the Fish”, which was a 10-day exhibition held in August 2020 at Huashan 1914 Creative Park. The exhibition was created looked like a crime scene to illustrate the hardships and exploitations faced by the workers of offshore fishing.

A room with clothes hanging off a bunk bed and orange cones on the floor next to a body outline created using tape
Greenpeace East Asia Taipei office hosted the exhibition named “Taking and Trapping the Fish” at Huashan1914 Creative Park, uncovering the exploitation of offshore fishing workers with crime scenes.
© Greenpeace

Wei was responsible for giving tours and introducing the exhibition. During these tours, he also gained deeper understanding on the issue surrounding the exploitation of offshore fishing workers. After the event, Wei continued to devote himself to different volunteer activities, actively participating in the environmental movement. 

Through the volunteer training offered by Greenpeace East Asia office, he not only learned more about ocean conservation and plastic reduction, but also realised that the scale of ocean trash was beyond his wildest imagination. 

“We don’t think this problem concerns us because we have limited understanding of the issue,” Wei stated. 

Wei actively volunteered to lobby for the ratification of the Ocean Conservation Act, where he gave speeches on the street, passed out flyers, and made calls to legislators. He expressed appreciation for the opportunity to not only learn more about environmental issues but also different ways of civic engagement.  

Despite being able to talk about environmental issues to the public on the street, he faces challenges communicating with his own family. He thinks that the younger generation lacks the sense of urgency about the ocean as long as they can see fish on the table. Not everyone is aware of the tremendous amount of trash suffocating the ocean and the threat of extinction facing the ocean creatures. 

One of the latest volunteer work he has done was in June 2023 when Wei joined the “Citizen Scientist Fish Survey” project and  recorded the different types of fish found in harbours. Even though the work was quite hot and tiring, Wei thought that it was well worth the effort. 

An elderly man bending over a plastic basket full of fish
Wei would conduct fish surveys at the fish market on weekends, committed to learning new things even at retirement.
© Greenpeace

“My biggest wish is for The Ocean Conservation Act to be passed and be strictly enforced by the government. What a great change that it could bring!” Wei exclaimed. 

 It is never too late to take action for the environment. As long as we have the will to learn, act, and change, we all are capable of protecting the environment. 

If you also hear the silent cries of the environment, feel weary about the future of our planet, or would like to learn more about the environment and take action, Greenpeace sincerely invites you to join our volunteer group

Greenpeace volunteer group is a group of strong and caring people from all walks of life, dedicated to standing up for the environment. We believe that together we can bring stronger and more positive change.

Claudia Lim is Community Outreach Intern at Greenpeace East Asia Taipei.