A retired American lawyer in Central China's Hubei Province has devoted
himself to the cause of environmental protection by collecting rubbish in the
K. L. Rothey, 67, has given himself a Chinese name "Luqi," which means
"Some people may look down upon beggars collecting rubbish," the People's
Daily quoted Rothey as saying. "But in my eyes they are doing honorable
environmentally friendly work."
In 2004, Rothey married a Chinese calligrapher, Meng Shunbo, in Huangshi City
in Hubei Province and settled down there.
He has now become a "star" in the city because he often shows up in the
streets collecting rubbish.
"Huangshi is my home so I hope it becomes cleaner and more beautiful," Rothey
His community work has touched and encouraged many local people. In Huangshi,
hundreds of volunteers now work alongside him collecting rubbish and promoting
He has also organized volunteers, many of whom are university students, to
collect rubbish in many cities, including the provincial capital Wuhan.
Discarded cigarette butts, waste plastic bags and paper are put into
dustbins, turning dirty streets into clean and tidy ones.
Guo Jie, a resident of Wuhan, joined one clean-up operation.
"I regret not taking my daughter. She could have received a valuable lesson
in protecting the environment," she said.
Rothey's wife, who was initially puzzled by her husband's behaviour, is now a
"At first I could not understand him and felt collecting rubbish is dirty,"
Meng said in an interview with the Tianjin People's Radio.
"However, Rothey told me collecting rubbish is not dirty; littering the
streets is dirty."
Rothey's motto is: "Duty, Will, Spirit and Patience".
He believes the government can play a bigger role in raising people's
"The government can first provide more rubbish bins and build more rubbish
treatment centers," Rothey was quoted by the Changjiang Times, a local newspaper
in Wuhan, as saying.
He said China's economy has been developing very rapidly and environmental
protection should never fall behind.
For Rothey, collecting rubbish is not the simple answer unless it is coupled
with the promotion of environmental awareness.
"Too many people feel environmental protection is none of their business," he
"Some Chinese houses are very clean, but it could be very dirty a few steps
away," he said.
Rothey, who grew up on a farm in the United States, now speaks fluent
He first visited China in 1984 and developed a strong interest in Chinese
Rothey said that he would continue his rubbish collection rounds as long he
is able to.
"What I collect is not rubbish in the streets; it is the rubbish in people's
minds," Rothey told the People's Daily.
(China Daily 01/04/2007 page5)