|Member of the trash-collecting team Sài Gòn Xanh (Green Sài Gòn) are seen cleaning up a trash-choked Hy Vọng Canal section in HCM City’s Tân Bình District. — VNS Photo Nguyễn Diệp
by Nguyễn Diệp
In an effort to raise public awareness about the need to stop rubbish littering, the young man Nguyễn Lương Ngọc and his team do not hesitate to take a dip in the black water of the Hy Vọng Canal section in Tân Bình District, one of the most polluted canals in HCM City, to collect trash from this canal.
Over the past three months, the trash-collecting team called Sài Gòn Xanh (Green Sài Gòn) have cleaned up many trash-choked canals across the city and collected dozens of tonnes of trash.
The leader of the team Nguyễn Lương Ngọc, 27, an employee at a restaurant in the city, shared that when he was in his hometown, he thought that the city was one of the most beautiful places. But when he came to work, he found that behind the beauty, there were many polluted canals in the city.
“There is a strong stench coming from the black water of the canals full of trash, seriously polluting the environment, affecting the landscape and threatening the health of local residents,” he said.
|Hy Vọng Canal full of trash is one of the most polluted canals in HCM City. — VNS Photo Nguyễn Diệp
With the desire to revive the clean canals and contribute to building a green, clean and beautiful city, Ngọc initiated the Sài Gòn Xanh team and brought together young people for action to ‘rescue’ the polluted canals.
“Our work is expected to contribute to raising public awareness, particularly among the younger generation, of environmental protection,” he said.
The team initially had only five members, mostly students and freelancers.
The members are spending around three hours picking up trash at the canals three times a week.
“Images and video clips about our work have been widely shared on social media and received a lot of attention from the community recently,” he said.
As a result, the team has quickly grown to attract dozens of young volunteers, including expats living in the city.
Hồ Văn Vỹ, a member of the team, said he was a little scared of the dirty water for the first time, but after doing it a lot, he really like doing this work.
“I feel proud of what I have done and want to do this work everyday,” he said.
|Lithuanian volunteer Arturas offered a helping hand to clean up the trash-choked canal. — VNS Photo Nguyễn Diệp
The first day of volunteering, a Lithuanian volunteer, who gave only one name Arturas, said he knew the team through a TikTok video so he asked to join this meaningful work.
“When I do this work, I feel very happy because I have contributed something useful to society,” he said.
The team repeatedly used a basket to rake in garbage but they never seemed to be able to remove all the trash.
There was trash everywhere in the canal, and because it had been there for so long, the water was murky and putrid.
After about three hours of cleaning the canal, more than 20 plastic bags of trash weighing tens of kilogrammes each were collected and brought up to the street.
The bags were later handed over to a sanitation worker for transporting to waste treatment facilities.
|The plastic bags of trash collected from the canal are loaded on a garbage truck, which will be taken to waste treatment facilities. — VNS Photo Nguyễn Diệp
The team leader said that the entire canal could not be cleaned in one time because there was too much trash there.
The team will ask the local government about calling for more volunteers to come and clean up the remaining areas of the canal that are deeper.
Although the participants wear protective clothing, they still have to face many difficulties, and unexpected risks of health effects from pollution and contagious diseases.
“If not careful, we could accidentally grab a used needle or broken glass,” Ngọc said.
More than 100 used injection needles were found during their trash collection in Gò Vấp District, he said.
There are other hazardous wastes like animal carcasses that are often collected during the canal cleaning.
The team has helped reduce the surface water pollution of many foul-smelling canals in Tân Bình and Gò Vấp districts over the last three months.
Nguyễn Văn Chính, a resident in Ward 15 in Tân Bình, expressed his support and high appreciation for the team's efforts to clean up the city's waterways, which are seriously polluted by trash.
“The canal looks so much better after a lot of trash was collected,” he said.
|The surface water pollution of the Hy Vọng Canal reduced thanks to the trash-collecting young team.
According to Bùi Hữu Hồng Hải, deputy head of the Việt Nam Youth Federation - HCM City, environmental pollution is always a headache for any country.
The city now has more than 2,000km of rivers and canals, with dozens of canal routes being polluted.
The pollution of canals in the city has been worsening as large quantities of household and industrial wastewater, as well as household rubbish, are being discharged or dumped into canals.
The amount of waste collected from these canals across the city ranges from 10 to 40 tonnes per day, even up to 60-80 tonnes on holidays, mostly domestic waste.
The city has made many efforts to call on people to pay more attention to maintain environmental sanitation and not throw waste into rivers, canals and roads.
The cleaning activity carried out by the Sài Gòn Xanh team brings encouragement and motivation for the young people in the city to join together in practical and meaningful activities to help keep the city green, clean and beautiful. — VNS