Recycling waste, ecobrick use, bamboo straws help reduce plastic pollution

(VOVWORLD) - Plastic bags, bottles and other disposable items are among the most common littered objects polluting and destroying the environment and impacting people’s health. VOV has assembled stories about the effort to end plastic pollution,  which we hope will  change the way people think about plastic use and may be the impetus to stop using plastics altogether.

Binh Phuoc 1 residential area, Hai Chau district, Da Nang city has recently been frequented by children in green shirts pushing trolleys around the streets and small alleys to collect plastic bottles and recyclable waste. The waste will then be classified before being sold to raise funds to help disadvantaged families and sick people in the area. One of the children, 8-year-old Le Hoang Anh said: “We feel a little bit tired but we’re so happy. We want to make the area  we’re living in cleaner, and so does everyone else.”

The little “heroes” belong to an environmental club of 20 children aged from 6 to 12.  Mr. Pham Cong Luong, Secretary of the Party cell of Binh Phuoc Residential Area 1, founded the club last year. He said: “I started by telling the children about the benefits of garbage collection. They sell wasted materials to donate to charity. But it is more important that they contribute to protecting the environment. The children love the idea and it’s how the club was born.” 
The children’s small action has had a big effect since it has raised community awareness on environmental protection. Now, instead of throwing away plastic bottles, cans, and paper into public bins, people save it for the children’s trolleys.  With the motto “We want to build a greener life”, the club hopes that like-minded people will take up their call in other areas.   

Recycling waste, ecobrick use, bamboo straws help reduce plastic pollution - ảnh 1 Binh Phuoc 1 residential area, Hai Chau district, Da Nang city is frequented by children in green shirts pushing trolleys around the streets and small alleys to collect plastic bottles and recyclable waste (Photo: VOV)

The “Sorting out waste” and “Recycling waste for money” models are expanding in Ha Long city, Quang Ninh province. The models, launched by the municipal Women’s Union, are making the city greener and generating funds to help local disadvantaged people. Like other residents of Ha Trung ward, Ha Long city, Ms Doan Thi Yen is engaged in classifying discarded materials into plastic waste, paper waste, tins, metals, ceramics, and glass. Yen said: “We collect waste, plastic bags, and ponchos that people discard on the road, bring them home to clean and dry them and then gather them together. We also make hats, bags, and small baskets from recycled waste” 
More than 5,000 members of the municipal women’s union have participated in sorting waste and recycling waste for money. After 2 years they earned more than 8,700 USD which was used to support local disadvantaged women and children. Many people have used recycled plastic waste like cans, bottles, expired tires, and so on to make chairs, flower pots, bags, and toys. 

Recycling waste, ecobrick use, bamboo straws help reduce plastic pollution - ảnh 2A flower pot made from ecobrick (Photo: VOV)

Beside organizations and group efforts to protect the environment, there are individuals who are committed to reducing plastic waste. One of them is Ga Hostel and Travel in Hanoi. The hostel is now building an eco-farm trip model, in which no plastic will be used. It believes that eco-farm trips and eco-tourism will promote responsibility on the part of travelers, helping to protect the environment when visiting Vietnam. Ho Hoai Thuong, or Alice, founder and CEO of Ga Hostel and Travel, said: “Eco tourism is a trend that emphasizes greater environmental care, especially on the part of young travelers. We think that we should promote that concept so we can attract more responsible customers. At Ga Hostel and travel, we don’t sell water in plastic bottles, but instead we have purified machines customers can get their water from. When we go to the market, we bring our own market bags for our vegetables, and we have a box to carry our meat or fish.”

According to Alice, single-use plastic grocery bags are used for convenience only, but can languish in the environment for half a millennium. Although there have been several warnings on the health and environment risks, nylon bags and plastic products remain very popular. Alice suggests the use of ecobricks, a plastic bottle packed with plastic to create a reusable building block. This can be a permanent solution for plastic waste, Alice said: “We use a big empty bottle, and inside we stuff all the plastic bags or anything left that can not be recycled. One bottle can carry a surprising amount of plastic. In a single bottle we can get  around 1 or 2 kilograms worth. Ecobricks look really cool and colorful, and can be used to make a table, a floor, or a gate.” 

Recycling waste, ecobrick use, bamboo straws help reduce plastic pollution - ảnh 3Members of Ga Hostel and Travel in Hanoi (Photo: Gahostel)

As more and more people are saying no to plastic straws, most recently, young entrepreneur Le Tien Dung released a straw made of Loi, a form of wild bamboo which grows in the mountains of the northern province of Son La . The straw making process is quite complicated, from collecting fresh bamboo, smoothing the ends of pipes, boiling them for 24 hours in salt water to prevent termites, to polishing and drying them at high temperatures.  The process is mostly done manually and it’s of note that no preservatives are involved, so that the finished straws still retain the color and fragrance of the tree. 

“I hope my product can replace the single-use plastic straws that are now commonly available. I want to raise people’s awareness about environment protection, so they know the risks of overusing plastic straws and choose to use the bamboo alternative instead. Most importantly, the bamboo straw is environmentally friendly and can be recycled,” Dung said.

Recycling waste, ecobrick use, bamboo straws help reduce plastic pollution - ảnh 4 The straw making process is mostly done manually and the finished straws retain the color and fragrance of the bamboo  (Photo: VOV)

Dung’s 8 factories, which produce 100,000 straws per day, created jobs for 100 local workers. The straws are sold in Vietnam and have recently been exported to Russia, France, Taiwan, and the EU. Mr. Tong Tuan Cuong, the owner of Cuong Beo shop, in Son La city has completely switched to using glass straws in stead of plastic ones. “My customers love using the glass straw as it’s light and smells good. If you carefully clean and dry the straws, they can be reused 30 to 50 times. It’s a good way to save money and it’s great for the environment,” Cuong said.

You’ve been listening to the Sunday show on the Voice of Vietnam. This week, we’ve shared some stories about people taking steps to end plastic pollution. We welcome your feedback at: English Section, VOV World Service, Radio the Voice of Vietnam, 45 Ba Trieu Street, Hanoi, Vietnam. Or you can email us at: englishsection@vov.org.vn. Tune in to our English program on the Internet at vovworld.vn. Good bye. See you next time.

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