【Why do you pick up trash? vol.3】
According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 700,000 tons of plastic waste is discharged into the sea every year. Amid such problems as a lack of incineration facilities and overflowing landfills, the preliminary competition for the SPOGOMI World Championships was held in Ho Chi Minh City, once known as the "Paris of the East. The organizer of the event, Ms. Linh, who studies Japanese at university and is also involved in environmental issues, was supporting the event from behind the scenes. After the cleanup activities were successfully completed, we interviewed Linh about her roots and her thoughts on SPOGOMI.
I was born here in Ho Chi Minh City, and there is a very beautiful green park near my parents’ house that I have frequented since childhood. It is an important place that I visit whenever I am at a turning point in my life, and that is why I want to keep it clean, so I started picking up trash every time I go to the park. The park and my heart are one and the same. If the park is clean, my heart is also clear. Thanks to this, it has become completely natural for me to engage in cleanup activities. I often study Japanese there, too.
As I talked with Japanese people who came to Vietnam, I wanted to speak more fluently. I think that Japanese people are the most environmentally conscious people in the world. I actually love soccer, and I woke up early in the morning to watch almost every game of the World Cup, and the sight of Japanese supporters picking up trash after the games became a hot topic in Vietnam. I wanted to study environmental issues in relation to Japan, so I majored in Japanese at university. Incidentally, I am now in my third year and am writing a thesis on the theme of “SPOGOMI” for graduation. After graduation, I would like to go to graduate school in Germany, where environmental measures are as advanced as in Japan, to study the relationship between tourism and the SDGs, etc.
There are many problems that need to be addressed, including the problem of overflowing landfills, but on the citizen level, for example, there is a complete lack of garbage separation. Except for high-end apartments, all garbage, including burnable and non-burnable garbage, and resources such as plastic bottles, are all lumped together and disposed of as garbage. There are many reasons for this, but I feel that the main reason is that strict rules are not in place. No one obeys the rules because there are no fines for breaking them. For example, Vietnam is a motorcycle society, and it is common for parents to litter milk from their babies while they are riding their motorcycles. Since it has been less than 50 years since the end of the war, we need to think about how to educate citizens about the environment in the process of future economic growth. In that sense, it is very important that young people were able to learn about sorting trash voluntarily through SPOGOMI.
In fact, until we started recruiting participants, we honestly did not expect so many people to participate. Moreover, most of the participants are young. Of course, this may be due to the fact that tickets to Japan are at stake, but it may also be due to the rapidly growing interest of Vietnamese people in the environment. I believe that not only Vietnamese but people all over the world will be united in environmental measures through the SPOGOMI World Cup, just like in soccer, so that a rich global environment will be handed down to the next generation. I will not be going to Tokyo this time because I am not a participant, but I would definitely like to visit the clean city of Tokyo sometime in the future. Until then, I will continue to pick up trash and study hard!
Ms. Linh（real name: Nguyen Hong Linh)
Entered Hong Bang University in April 2020, majoring in the Japanese language
Hometown: Ho Chi Minh City, Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Interests: Cleanup activities, watching soccer
Favorite soccer team: German national team
Favorite place in Japan: Hokkaido (the only place she has been to in Japan)
Any last words?
Vietnam is still developing, but its economy has continued to grow over the past 20 years. I believe that environmental awareness will change dramatically in the future, just as it has in Japan, and I would be happy if you could keep an eye on it.
Vietnam is said to be the fourth largest emitter of marine plastic in the world, but when we actually visited the country, we found that there was not that much litter in the streets, and we were often surprised at the gap between what we expected and what we saw in the country (private citizens informally collecting overflowing resource waste, junk stores, and recycling factories that purchase the waste, etc.). Through the interview with Ms. Linh, we were also able to glimpse the high level of environmental awareness among young people and the bright future of Vietnam, which is expected to continue to develop in the future.