Vol­un­teers help to raise en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness

Thou­sands of young peo­ple in the cen­tral city of Ñaø Naüng have joined the 'Green Sun­day Campaign' to keep the en­vi­ron­ment clean and raise aware­ness among the public about en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion. Out­look in­ter­viewed Nguyeãn Thanh Haäu, leader of the env

Outlook - - INTERVIEW -

H ow does the Green Sun­day campaign work?

I joined the clean­ing campaign when I was a sec­ond year stu­dent at the Ñaø Naüng Ar­chi­tec­ture Col­lege in 2009. For me, it was a big de­ci­sion when I took it into my own hands to the task to clean public beaches, parks and tourism sites in the city. My team­mates and I picked up garbage that lo­cals or trav­ellers threw, lit­ter­ing our streets and parks. I was born and brought up in the city and wanted to con­trib­ute in some way to­wards mak­ing the city greener and cleaner.

There are plans to make it a green city by 2025 and trans­form it into a tourism at­trac­tion in Vieät Nam. En­vi­ron­ment will play a key fac­tor to boost the tourism in­dus­try and will help lure tourists to the city.

As usual, public parks, beaches and tourist des­ti­na­tions are meet­ing places for our young vol­un­teers in the city on Sun­day. It's always a good day for vol­un­teers when they meet each other and carry out the clean­ing drive. We also try and es­tab­lish com­mu­ni­ca­tion with peo­ple in the street and public parks to raise aware­ness among the lo­cals and tourists about the im­por­tance of en­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion and public clean­ing campaign.

Our ac­tions have grad­u­ally re­sulted in mass par­tic­i­pa­tion by the lo­cals and tourists when it comes to pro­mot­ing aware­ness of en­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion. They (tourists and lo­cal peo­ple) also have changed their mind and now think twice be­fore let­ting rub­bish lit­ter care­lessly.

What's the role of a leader of en­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion and clean­ing campaign?

I used to be a leader of the vol­un­tary clean­ing team when I was at the col­lege. I have to gather to­gether and con­nect mem­bers of a vol­un­tary team, pre­pare tools and se­lect a lo­ca­tion for any par­tic­u­lar clean­ing day. I also de­sign the ac­tion sched­ule on how to carry out the clean­ing drive at the se­lected public lo­ca­tions such as beaches, parks, liv­ing quar­ters or side­walks of a main street.

It takes us three or four days to pre­pare for a 'Green Sun­day'. I post an an­nounce­ment about vol­un­teer re­cruit­ment on face­book or email dif­fer­ent col­leges. Grad­u­ally, vol­un­teers join a group to par­tic­i­pate in all en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion ac­tiv­i­ties and pro­grammes.

Each vol­un­teer then en­cour­ages his or her friends or rel­a­tives to join the pro­grammes. That's an effective method to cre­ate more and more vol­un­tary teams at home, col­leges, liv­ing quar­ters and public lo­ca­tions. It makes the as­sign­ment fea­si­ble and our reg­u­lar clean­ing pro­grammes get a boost with a mass of vol­un­teers tak­ing over the task of mak­ing the city cleaner.

I also de­sign a paint­ing and slo­gan writ­ing con­test on the themes of en­vi­ron­ment and wildlife pro­tec­tion. More and more ac­tions are de­vised reg­u­larly in or­der to raise aware­ness about en­vi­ron­ment among the lo­cal com­mu­nity and tourists. On the World En­vi­ron­ment Day (June 5th), we plan some in­ter­est­ing in­ter­ac­tions to at­tract the at­ten­tion of lo­cal peo­ple and visi­tors.

I try new top­ics for com­mu­ni­ca­tion at the city's most favourable des­ti­na­tions, but we are not limited to just re­mov­ing garbage from public lo­ca­tions. I and the vol­un­tary team raise slo­gans at th­ese des­ti­na­tions, call­ing upon the tourists to help in keep­ing our en­vi­ron­ment pro­tected, and spend their time here in an en­vi­ron­ment friendly man­ner. It would im­pact the think­ing of tourists and lo­cal peo­ple be­fore they in­dulge in lit­ter­ing.

Our ef­forts seem to be pay­ing off with even street ven­dors, tourists and lo­cal peo­ple join­ing hands with us in col­lect­ing garbage lit­ter­ing the public pave­ments, parks and tourism sites.

What more?

I help in set­ting up en­vi­ron­men­tal clubs at col­leges, liv­ing quar­ters and home to raise aware­ness about en­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion.

We try to per­suade fam­ily's mem­bers, neigh­bours and friends to use bags made of cloth or re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als in­stead of plas­tic bags. We also sug­gest housewives to use bas­kets and easy de­com­pos­able bags for car­ry­ing goods home from the mar­ket. Grad­u­ally, our ef­forts will help usher in a be­hav­ior change and en­sure that peo­ple do not use plas­tic bags for veg­eta­bles or rice.

House­holds are ad­vised to set in place a strict process of waste dis­charge, by mak­ing ap­pli­ca­ble a sys­tem of 3Rs (re­duce, re­use and re­cy­cle) at home.

Our vol­un­tary groups also host sem­i­nars and field trips to un­der­line the dam­age that plas­tic bags wreak on the en­vi­ron­ment and also share their ex­pe­ri­ence in en­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion re­lated com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

We also host train­ing cour­ses and teach ways to com­mu­ni­cate to pri­mary school stu­dents with the hope to pro­mote ac­tion and make kids live in en­vi­ron­ment friendly man­ner.

What's the re­sult?

We have set up reg­u­lar teams of 70 vol­un­teers since 2009 who un­der­take a se­ries of ac­tiv­i­ties. We of­ten col­lect 15 bag fulls of rub­bish at public parks or tourist des­ti­na­tions dur­ing our weekly 'Green Sun­day' drives.

We have been de­vel­op­ing more ideas to clean up the rail­way sta­tions/tracks and run an on­line con­test on en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion and cli­mate change.

We also plan to cre­ate a net­work­ing plat­form between en­vi­ron­men­tal clean­ing groups in Ñaø Naüng and other prov­inces and cities. It would cre­ate a mass force and lead to a big clean­ing campaign im­pact­ing ev­ery cor­ner of Vieät Nam.

I have been work­ing for the cen­tre for bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion, the Green Vieät, and that gives me more chance to raise aware­ness about en­vi­ron­ment and wildlife pro­tec­tion not only in Ñaø Naüng, but in other re­gions of Vieät Nam, too.

And your ex­pec­ta­tions?

I hope that all beaches, streets and parks are clean. All visi­tors and lo­cal peo­ple are aware and know about the im­por­tance of a clean en­vi­ron­ment. They should act and con­duct them­selves with re­spon­si­bil­ity be­fore re­leas­ing rub­bish freely into the en­vi­ron­ment. I hope that strict pun­ish­ments are meted out to those who harm the en­vi­ron­ment.

Some­day, lo­cal peo­ple and tourists will be able to walk the streets and breathe in fresh air and women would no more have to don face masks to guard against pol­lu­tion and dust.

To com­mem­o­rate World En­vi­ron­ment Day ear­lier this June, the city Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment kicked start the city’s “Clean and Green Sun­days” move­ment. Thou­sands of city res­i­dents and col­lege stu­dents cleaned up the de­serted spa­ces along the coast.

Green and Clean Sun­day has helped clean up the beaches of Ñaø Naüng.

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