Trâm (first, left) tells children how to make decorative flowers from eco-friendly materials in a workshop of the Eco Green Hub. — Photo courtesy of Đặng Thị Thu Hương
HÀ NỘI — Đặng Thị Thu Hương, 24, of the central province of Thừa Thiên Huế, founded Eco Green Hub in July 2019, after several years of trying to live a greener life.
The hub, located at No 45 Ngô Thời Nhiệm Street, Huế City, was created to distribute eco-friendly and high-quality products believed to be good for people’s health, the environment and part of a sustainable lifestyle, Hương said.
It also provides a place to hold workshops and programmes for people of all ages to learn how to make handicraft and eco-friendly products like recycled flowers and natural soaps.
There are more than 50 eco-friendly products, provided by 10 local producers, for sale at the hub, she added.
The products include bamboo straws, bamboo toothbrush, Zèng woven bags (a traditional weaving craft of the Tà Ôi ethnic minority group), earrings made from macadamia nut shells, decorative flowers made from dried banana trunks, dishwashing sponge from dried loofahs, essential oils, organic hand sanitiser, dish-washing liquid, and floor cleaner liquid made from soapberry.
After more than a year of establishment, the hub has worked with dozens of partners and set up 10 facilities to sell the eco-friendly products in the city.
Hương has also organised eight events to raise public awareness of the importance of environmental protection and the meaning of using eco-friendly products.
Each event drew 50-100 people, she added.
Hương's efforts and Eco Green Hub’s event, named 'If not me, who would it be?', on December 29, 2019, to encourage people to change their habits and use eco-friendly products were highly appreciated by Phan Ngọc Thọ, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee when he visited the event.
Thọ had called on local people to take actions to make the province greener, cleaner and brighter last April – three months before the Eco Green Hub’s establishment.
Hương (centre, black) and Trâm (second, left) at the Eco Green Hub's event named "If not me, who would it be?" held in December 2019 in Huế. — Photo courtesy of Đặng Thị Thu Hương
Hub’s establishment and co-founder
Hương graduated as a marketing major from Huế College of Economics in 2018.
She used a bamboo tube to be a pen case and joined activities related to sustainable development when she was a student.
When she had the idea to establish the hub, she realised there was so much plastic waste around her. It not only harmed people’s health but also damaged the environment and animals, she said.
“There is something inside that always urges me to do something for the environment,” she said.
She asked herself what the environment would be like in five or 10 years and what kind of a world society was leaving for children.
Then Hương decided to establish the hub.
She asked her coursemate Đặng Thị Ngọc Trâm, 22, to help her and Trâm agreed.
“I immediately said yes to the offer from Hương because I also wanted to do something for the environment and something new for myself,” Trâm said.
When she agreed to establish the hub with Hương, Trâm was a third-year student.
Challenges and future plans
Hương said the first challenge was her parents’ opposition.
“My parents did not want me to quit my job, with a stable salary, to start up,” she added.
“They worried that I would meet trouble, they worried that I would have to work much harder compared to working for a business,” she said.
The model of the Eco Green Hub was also new in Huế City and it made them concerned about its feasibility, she said.
But Hương tried to persuade her parents by analysing the opportunities and challenges of her idea.
“I also told them to let me do what I love,” she said.
“Because I only feel the happiness and the meaning of my life when I do what I love,” she said.
They finally agreed, Hương said.
The second challenge came from customers’ habits. Few people used eco-friendly products at that time and most people were used to plastic products, she added.
To tackle these issues, Trâm said they had to both sell the products and educate people about the need for eco-friendly products.
The third challenge was how to send customers’ feedback on the products to the manufacturers for adjustment.
It required flexibility in working with both customers and manufacturers to overcome the challenge, Hương said.
The fourth challenge was how to diversify the products to better serve customers.
The solution for the challenge came after Hương and Trâm decided to spend VNĐ150 million (US$6,462) from their savings and a loan from friends to diversify the products in the hub.
The move brought a new look to the products in the hub and gave customers more options, Hương said.
Hương and Trâm now plan to open branches of the hub in Quảng Trị and Hà Tĩnh provinces next year.
They are also working to sell their products via the global e-commerce platform Amazon in the near future.
“I not only want to live a greener life for me but also want to encourage other people to do it,” Hương said.
"It is also the slogan of Eco Green Hub," she said. — VNS