Hoàng Quý Bình founded 'Green Life' with the aspiration of protecting the environment in 2018. It all started by exchanging recyclable waste for lovely little ornamental trees – an act that Bình himself calls “A very small thing”. Bình’s project has since been a perfect example of the saying: “Great things come from small beginning”. Hoàng Hồ and Đăng Nguyễn had a chance to talk with Bình about the project, his concerns for the environment and future plans.
Inner sanctum: Two years ago, you found 'Green Life'. What was your motivation?
When I was a student, I saw that there was more and more trash, including many bottles and jars that are completely recyclable, while Việt Nam is in the top three countries that import the most trash. However, domestic waste has not been thoroughly treated and utilised.
Also, in my first two weeks in Hồ Chí Minh City, I found that people in my area don’t really worry about classifying garbage even though they use plastic bottles a lot.
I see the coverage of environmental issues needs to be broadened and that is also the mission of Green Life. And I think that if there are some 'gift' that encourage people to classify waste, people will be more conscientious. That is why exchanging trash for trees was born.
Inner sanctum: Can you share more about Green Life’s mission?
Green Life's mission is to encourage people to classify their waste at home so that in the future we can reduce 50 per cent of waste in Hà Nội. After more than a year, we have successfully organised 45 events, collected nearly 300 tonnes of waste that were sent to recycling sites.
We also share with everyone about the green lifestyles, recyclable waste that is very useful in daily life, helping people to form habits. If everyone shares a green lifestyle, a green living community will be created and make our planet a good place to live.
Hoàng Quý Bình founded Green Life in 2018, since then "Trash for Trees" has become one of the most influenced environmental projects in Việt Nam. Photo courtesy of Hoàng Quý Bình
Inner sanctum: What do we need to do to classify the waste?
After being classified, each kind of garbage is sent to different places. For example, we send batteries or electronic devices to Việt Nam Recycles. Used paper is sent to a JP Corelex (Việt Nam). Plastic or metal is sent to Lagom Việt Nam. These companies have certificates, and we have visited their facilities to witness the process. They also sent us their products to show at events and tell people about waste treatment, so they can understand that after classification, rubbish is also a resource.
Inner sanctum: How do people react to Green Life?
It was very lucky for Green Life that our first event attracted more than 1,000 participants. From the second event, we coordinated with primary schools such as Vinshool and others. Initially, we collected a huge amount of rubbish. Later on, the amount of rubbish reduced. People who participated in the events helped us a lot, so all activities were done quickly.
Trash for Tree has attracted and inspired thousands of people in Hà Nội and now it's developing the second office in Hồ Chí Mịnh City. Photo courtesy of Green Life
Inner sanctum: How do you plan to raise your profile to a wider audience?
We remind people that by recycling a tonne of paper they will save an equivalent of 13 wood trees from being cut down to make paper pulp.
We encourage everyone with small gifts, to remind people to keep up the good habit. But I don't think that's enough. Currently, the authorities have various plans such as weighing garbage, if there is too much garbage, the households will be fined, so Green Life will guide people to reduce the amount of garbage, from there, they will reduce the amount payable. This helps everyone see their benefits in addition to the benefits for the environment, and it makes solutions more efficient and thorough.
Inner sanctum: How do people implement the solutions into their daily lives?
In my house there are three members of Green Life, but we don’t use bin, all types of trash is classified by us. We are working on a document to show all families how to do the same.
The three of us live like normal people, in the morning we go to the market to buy food for the whole day, we use fabric bags and food containers to avoid using plastic bags. For organic waste like vegetables, we compost to make fertiliser.
We also use organic products such as laundry detergent, dish soap or toilet cleaner. All of which are made with organic ingredients. These are all refill products, there is no need to use a new plastic bottle.
Instead of tap water, all save other types of water such as vegetable wash, rice washing water or dish soap are used by us to water the plants.
Inner sanctum: What are the future plans for Green Life?
Green Life is forming a second office in Hồ Chí Minh City.
After winning the third prize in Innovative Agriculture Start-up Contest 2020, we were motivated so much. We want to become a leading unit in the field of environmental protection, so that people can have the most authentic and vivid information on environmental protection issues. In addition, we will also link with buildings, schools and residential clusters so that we can organise campaigning activities regularly.
I believe everyone cares about the environment at some point. Their awareness is improved when they are encouraged or participate in certain activities. Together with the policies of the Government, I think environmental issues in Việt Nam will somewhat be solved. It needs a lot of time and many people must work together, but I believe the environment will improve day by day. If we don't act now, we will regret it. Our actions may be small, but if we work together, it will have a greater impact. If we don't act now, we will regret it in the future. Our actions, although small, but if we do it together, it will have a great impact. VNS