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  22/11/2023

The Unexpected Admirers of Waste

Upon hearing about a trash cleanup activity at My Dinh Stadium after the Blackpink concert on the evening of July 30th, Nguyen Kim Hung and 200 others immediately registered to participate.

A day earlier, the 27-year-old man from Cau Giay district saw many people sharing images of the stadium filled with plastic waste, plastic bags, and raincoats. Environmental workers reported that the amount of trash collected on the first night amounted to 20 tons and required continuous work until past midnight.

“”””I also wanted to contribute, but when I found out, it was already too late. I had to schedule for the next day as the concert was organized over two nights,”””” Hung explained.

At 9:30 PM on July 30th, Hung and 200 volunteers gathered outside the entrance of My Dinh Stadium and began picking up trash. After cleaning the outer area, the entire group moved to the stands to collect plastic bottles, water cups, raincoats, plastic bags, and assist environmental workers.

After nearly three hours, the volunteers brought over a dozen bags of trash to the assembly point and waited for the environmental company to collect them. Images of the trash cleanup group were shared on social media, receiving thousands of likes and comments praising the “”””beautiful and meaningful gesture.””””

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Young volunteers cleaning up with sanitation workers after a music event at My Dinh Stadium (Hanoi) on the evening of July 30th. Photo: Love Trash

Kim Hung and the participants in the trash cleanup at My Dinh Stadium on July 30th are all members of the “”””Love Trash”””” organization, founded in 2017 by Most Venerable Thich Chan Quang, the abbot of Zen Buddhism Institute Tôn Phật Quang, Ba Ria – Vung Tau province.

Duong Hong Ngoc, the vice president of “”””Love Trash,”””” mentioned that trash pickup is their main activity. The group organizes weekly and monthly activities to collect trash along streets, lakeshores, parks, and densely populated residential areas in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and many other provinces. On average, 30-40 members participate each time, and for large events like music festivals and fairs, the number can reach several hundred.

During the initial stages of their efforts, Hong Ngoc and the volunteers often encountered curious looks and criticism for their unpaid work, with comments like “”””Today cleaned, tomorrow it’s dirty again.”””” However, they remained steadfast in their belief that not cleaning would only lead to more waste piling up. Their hope is that people will gradually learn to preserve the environment where they live, learn to love waste, practice sorting and recycling,”””” Hong Ngoc shared.

However, some have witnessed or learned about volunteer activities through social media and actively sought to join. Kim Hung is one such case.

Five years ago, Hung was working as an independent tour guide when he came across a group of young people collecting trash in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Curious, he struck up a conversation. A few weeks later, he became one of the most active members of the group because he found the work meaningful.

In addition to the regular clean-up schedule, Hung frequently invites friends to join him in picking up trash and cleaning the area where they live. “”””I want to lead by example, and when others see the value in it, they are likely to follow. In practice, from the initial indifference and avoidance due to fear of dirt, many people in my area have gradually become conscious of not littering,”””” he said.

As for Pham Hang, she used to be afraid of trash, believing that discarded items were dirty and posed various risks. However, she gradually realized the significance of collecting trash, not only for cleaning the environment but also for protecting her own health. She joined the “”””Love Trash”””” organization in 2019. In addition to cleaning up in Hanoi, the young woman actively participates in environmental protection activities whenever she returns to her hometown in Ninh Binh.

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Members of the ‘Love Trash’ organization, in collaboration with local authorities in Ho Chi Minh City, clean up canals and urban landscapes in 2023. Photo: Love Trash

Unlike other groups that primarily focus on cleaning up lakes, canals, or large dumpsites, “”””Love Trash”””” often cleans up residential areas and public places. Explaining this, the vice-chairman of the organization stated that these are places with a high concentration of people, making it easy to reach and spread the message of environmental protection to many individuals. Additionally, trash collection activities pose hidden dangers, such as sharp glass shards, needles, and various sharp objects. Therefore, younger, physically fit members of “”””Love Trash”””” handle areas with potential hazards.

Hoping to impact more people, “”””Love Trash”””” usually contacts and coordinates with youth groups in local neighborhoods before carrying out each trash collection activity.

Mr. Nguyen Xuan Kien, the head of the military command of Vinh Phuc ward, Ba Dinh district (Hanoi), stated that his unit has been collaborating with “”””Love Trash”””” for many years.

“”””Not only do they clean and beautify the landscape, but ‘Love Trash’ also actively spreads a positive message about environmental protection to the people. We have indeed observed many positive outcomes,”””” Mr. Kien said.

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Members of the ‘Love Trash’ organization participate in a clean-up on Ly Son Island (Quang Ngai) in 2023. Photo: Love Trash

After six years of operation, “”””Love Trash”””” has around 2,000 members in most provinces, cities, and even among the Vietnamese community in Singapore, France, South Korea, Taiwan, and Russia. In addition to collecting trash, the group organizes workshops on environmental protection in schools and moral education classes for children. They implement a six-compartment trash bin model and collaborate with various entities to collect milk cartons in many provinces and cities. They also engage in tree planting projects.

“”””It doesn’t matter where you are or what you do. Once you’ve made up your mind to love trash and protect the environment, you can take action anywhere for a better society,”””” emphasized Hong Ngoc.

For Kim Hung and Pham Hang, after more than 5 years of commitment, both young individuals, along with many members of “”””Love Trash,”””” affirm that they will persevere in their pursuit, even amidst busy schedules.

“”””Where there is trash, there are members of ‘Love Trash.’ We’re not afraid of challenges or difficulties; we simply hope that our efforts will contribute to changing the mindset and actions of every individual,”””” Kim Hung passionately expressed.

(Source: vnexpress.net)

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