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
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.
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.