Khánh Dương & Bảo Hoa
HỘI AN — While cycling for exercise every early morning, Nguyễn Thị Hồng Vân often passes a market to collect leftover fruits and vegetables.
The rotten fruits are used to make compost and dish-washing liquid by Vân, who lives in Thanh Đông Hamlet, Cẩm Thanh Commune in Hội An City.
By using biodegradable waste from her house and neighbouring areas, she takes advantage of organic waste to make useful products for the garden and kitchen.
Vân sorts domestic waste discharged by her family into three groups - biodegradable, recyclable and non-recyclable, then she keeps organic waste to feed her 1,000sq.m garden and sells recyclable waste to local scrappers.
The only garbage her family discharges into the environment is a small amount of non-biodegradable waste which is transported to the city’s landfill.
“I try to treat the domestic waste of family by myself. Because I love planting fruits and vegetables by myself without using pesticides, I often mix rotten fruits and vegetables with dried leaves, husk and sawdust and wait for three months to make organic compost. Then I use that compost for my plants. The plants composted with organic waste are chemical-free and grow very well. The natural origin leftover fruits and vegetables used to feed plants now come back to nature. It’s the cycle of life,” Vân said.
Vân mixes rotten vegetables with dried leaves, husk and sawdust to make compost in her garden. — VNS Photo Khánh Dương
Vân is the first person in Thanh Đông Village to make detergent liquid from leftover fruits.
By mixing 3kg of fruits with 1kg of sugar and 10 litres of water, after three months, she has a big bottle of liquid that can be used to wash dishes, clean floors and water plants to kill pests.
“If you need more bubbles in the liquid, add soapberry. Add garlic, chilli and soapberry to make a pest-killing liquid,” she told Việt Nam News.
Vân said she learned how to make the liquid from fermented organic waste online two years ago and failed several times due to not sealing the bottles well.
She said her liquid was only a simple product without a filter and she made it for domestic use only, shared the recipe with her neighbours and does not intend to make it for commercial purposes.
“It needs further treatment if it is sold to the market,” she said.
“The liquid does not have many bubbles like the dish soap sold at the markets. But it is very organic. Dishes and floors are very clean after being washed with it,” she said.
Nguyễn Thị Hồng Vân puts leftover fruits and vegetables into a bucket of water mixed with sugar in order to make detergent liquid. — VNS Photo Khánh Dương
Most families in Thanh Đông Village have very large gardens. Many households in the village have learned from Vân how to make compost in their gardens and create their own detergent from fermented biodegradable waste.
Following Vân's example, now many local households sort garbage, compost and make detergent from organic waste.
This has also made the work of waste collectors easier.
A local waste collector who declined to be named said some households didn't even have any waste when she came to collect because they reuse all their organic waste.
Thanh Đông Village has more than 300 households with more than 1,200 people. Each of them is estimated to discharge about one to 1.5kg of garbage every day.
If more and more among more than 1,200 people in the village can recycle waste, the amount of waste put into Cẩm Hà Landfill – the city’s waste dump – will reduce.
Vân said: “My neighbour puts wastebaskets at local schools to collect leftover fruits, vegetables and other biodegradable substances. He volunteers to transport them to our area and then we share them to make compost and dish-washing liquid.”
“I feel my living environment has improved a lot since I started taking advantage of organic waste to make useful garden compost and home products,” she added.
Local authorities have also encouraged households who do not have gardens to sort garbage and benefit from organic waste by building a station located in the centre of the village called the Material Recovery Facility.
At the station, people can sort their garbage and then local waste collectors will make compost from organic waste. Villagers who do not have gardens to make compost can come and select compost for their household use.
Biodegradable waste gathered at the Material Recovery Facility will be made into organic compost by local waste collectors. Villagers who do not have gardens to make compost can come and pick compost for their household use. — VNS Photo Khánh Dương
The facility, the first of its kind in Hội An, was put into operation in late January with the support of the Management Boards of the Chàm Island Marine Protected Area and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organisations, and individuals in some 90 countries whose vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration.
Nguyễn Văn Vũ, deputy director of Management Boards of the Chàm Island Marine Protected Area, said the facility aimed to cut the amount of waste discharged into the environment and reduce waste dumping on the city’s landfill.
"We hope the model will be applied widely in other areas of Hội An City," he said.
The second facility of this kind in Hội An will be inaugurated in April on Chàm Island - which has become known as Việt Nam’s role model in plastic waste reduction. — VNS