Being diagnosed with Cancer saved her life, says Charlotte Liu who has learned to embrace life and do something positive for the environment and the community.
She started a non-profit organisation, a Better Life Foundation, that encourages people to embrace plogging.
A combination of jogging and picking up litter, plogging originated in Sweden in 2016 following an increased concern about plastic pollution. Plogging is considered a good workout as it provides variation in body movements by adding bending, squatting and stretching apart to running, hiking or walking.
“Cancer changed me in a good way. I led a very unhealthy life earlier and was closed to everything,” says Charlotte.
Being down in the dumps after she had a full mastectomy, Charlotte found herself emotionally wrought and lonely, she admits.
“I was really sad and would keep crying. My life had no purpose at all. I didn’t want to tell anyone what I had been through.”
Seeing the state of mind Charlotte was in, the Cancer Society advised counselling.
Charlotte gradually learned to open up and trust friends. It was during a conversation with a close friend that Charlotte realised she needed a higher purpose in life.
“I wanted to help women and educate them about sustainability.
“Immigrants come here to lead a better life. And the wonderful thing about being in New Zealand is that you can restart everything, no matter what age. My friends encouraged me start a charity when I was going through chemo. It’s what kept me going,” says Charlotte, who is quite active despite undergoing treatment.
“After some soul-searching I realised that when I help others, I feel really good. Sadly, I wasn’t healthy earlier because I was chasing money and all the material things in life. A simple life is so much better when you are happy and can open up your heart and mind.
“Strange as it may sound, my illness encouraged me to lead a better life. It’s one thing to have a weak body but it is far more important to be mentally fit and have a sustainable way of living.”
With so much microplastic pollution in parks, beaches and bushes, Charlotte called Auckland Council to find out about areas they needed help with in terms of a clean-up.
Point View Dr, Barry Curtis Park, Totara Park and Waipuna are some of the areas; the Better Life Foundation has undertaken plogging in.
“We can’t take more than a group of 15,” says Charlotte.
Every month she announces a time and place on social media platform WeChat for volunteers to sign in.
“We also do a swap meet that encourages people that end up buying things they don’t really need to exchange it with those who want it. As they say, one man’s rubbish may be another man’s treasure.”