Teenage eco-enthusiast living green and saving the planet

(VOVWORLD) - In 2019 a 5th grader in Hanoi made national headlines when she sent an email to schools in the capital calling for an end to the practise of releasing balloons to mark a new academic year. Over the past 4 years her environmental protection efforts have continued with other meaningful activities. She even won an award from the Saudi Arabian embassy.

Teenage eco-enthusiast living green and saving the planet - ảnh 1Nguyen Nguyet Linh is the youngest winner of the "The Green Journey for A Green Future" competition organized by the Saudi Arabian Embassy. (Photo: The Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Vietnam)

Releasing balloons used to be an indispensable part in the first-day-of-school ceremony in Hanoi. It was believed that the soaring balloons carried with them the dreams of the students. But Nguyen Nguyet Linh said the tradition takes a toll on the environment because balloons are made of rubber.

Birds and other animals may swallow the balloons and die, Linh wrote in the email she sent to the headmasters of 40 schools in Hanoi, warning “Lift the dreams of students, but sink those of birds and sea turtles.”

If the balloons end up in the ocean, sea turtles and other sea animals can mistake them for jellyfish, she said, adding that the ribbons and rubber bands used to tie the balloons can also choke animals and kill them.

"After learning about the harmful effects of non-biodegradable rubber balloons on wildlife, I became deeply concerned about the back-to-school balloon release ceremonies being held by many schools. I decided to write a letter urging schools to replace this practice with meaningful alternatives. The response was overwhelming. Numerous schools began to reconsider and ultimately abandoned their balloon release ceremonies," said Linh.

Her passionate love for the environment was deeply rooted in Linh at a very young age. Growing up, she found herself captivated by the beauty and wonders of nature, and her desire to protect and preserve it only grew stronger with time. 

Teenage eco-enthusiast living green and saving the planet - ảnh 2Linh’s desire to protect the environment has not ceased and has been transformed into actions. (Photo courtesy of Nguyen Nguyet Linh)

"I still remember when I got an opportunity to see pangolins, an animal in danger of extinction in Vietnam, during a visit to the conservation area of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife. I was captivated by their gentle and endearing nature, and wondered why such an innocent creature was among the most trafficked in the world. I immediately realized the importance of taking action, no matter how small, to contribute to preserving our environment," said Linh.

The most important way to protect the environment is to inspire others to appreciate the environment and encourage them to take responsibility for their actions and make conscious choices, Linh said. Four years after her impactful letter, Linh’s desire to protect the environment has not ceased and has been transformed into actions.

"My friends and I co-wrote and published two books titled 'A piece of forest for you' and 'Friends in the mangrove forest.' In the first book we shared basic information about the forests, explained their main benefits, and emphasized the critical importance of protecting them for future generations. While it’s true that people can find such information online, we wanted to present it in a unique and understandable way that connects with young readers."
"In the second book, we shared a captivating story about a child living in Xuan Thuy National Park, highlighting the dramatic changes in wildlife and the environment that the child witnessed.”
Teenage eco-enthusiast living green and saving the planet - ảnh 3The book “A piece of forest for you” written and published by Nguyet Linh and her friends. (Photo: qdnd.vn)

The first book sold 2,000 copies, and the profits were donated to protecting the Tri San watershed forest in Meo Vac district, Ha Giang province. Linh donated 1,000 copies of the second book to Xuan Thuy National Park to promote environmental awareness.

Linh's green journey has led her to explore the intersection of art and environmental advocacy. She has created visually compelling works that promote the message of appreciating and protecting the environment, using innovative techniques and eco-friendly materials.

"I organized an exhibition called "Our Other Mother" and brought it to various secondary and high schools in Hanoi. The exhibition showcased pictures from international artists that feature Mother Nature, with the aim of raising students' awareness of the importance of environmental protection," said Linh.

The exhibition was held at Times City, Viet Duc High School, and Marie Curie High School, specifically targeting students, who were the main audience for the exhibition.

Teenage eco-enthusiast living green and saving the planet - ảnh 4Linh and her friends at a press conference introducing their book. (Photo: qdnd.vn)

Linh's thoughts and actions serve as a reminder for both adults and teenagers to reconsider their relationship with the environment. She said collective efforts are needed for a sustainable future for all.

"I hope there will be a growing number of hands working together to protect the environment. Taking action is actually much easier than it might seem, and it all start with ourselves. Even small actions can make a difference, such as refusing to use disposable utensils, using our own bottles when getting drinks on the go, and bringing our own tote bags when shopping," said Linh.

"Once we develop these environmentally-friendly habits, we should encourage our friends and family to do the same. I truly believe that if more and more people begin protecting the environment through these small actions, it will have a positive effect on a larger scale."

15-year-old Nguyen Nguyet Linh became the youngest ever winner of the The Green Journey for A Green Future” competition organized by the Saudi Arabian embassy in Hanoi in response to World Environment Day 2023.

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