Recent years are seeing more and more young people putting their ideas into action with regards to the environment. With the hope to raise awareness on environmental issues and change behaviours that impact the environment, many young people are busy in their own communities and on a larger scale.
Volunteers from the "26 degree and more" group meet and teach students from the Phan Phu Tien Primary School in central Da Nang City about the environment. — Photo provided by the team
HA NOI —
One such innovator is Nguyen Thi Nga, a 24-year-old interpreter at Techcombank. Nga has initiated a programme named "Green Office" at her workplace. "Green Office" encourages staff to utilise used papers, glasses instead of plastic mugs, paper bags instead of plastic bags and switch off lights during breaks.
Nga shares, "I like the idea of Green Office because it is very practical and easy to implement. It can be run at offices or schools, anywhere people live or work."
Initially, Nga only intended to introduce Green Office as a daily practice of saving energy with her colleagues. However, thanks to the support of Nga's superiors, "Green Office" has become a programme that engages all staff within the unit.
Nga's colleague, Nguyen Thu Hang, approves of the project, calling it an "interesting and meaningful" idea. She reveals that the programme had helped change people's attitudes in addition to their actions. According to Hang, since the programme's start, people take more advantage of used paper and plastic bags rather than getting rid of them immediately after use. Some even bring flowers and small plants to make the office look "greener."
The next step in the Green Office programme is a more formal regulation with penalties for violations of rules. Nga hopes to extend Green Office to other units across the bank as well.
Another young activist, Le Van Son, is doing something similar. Son is a fourth-year student at Da Nang University of Technology and working as the head of a Da Nang City environmental campaign named "26 Degrees and More." The campaign organises activities to promote energy-saving techniques with electric appliances and raise awareness of environmental issues amongst young people.
Together with other volunteers, Son speaks to companies and schools persuading them to re-set their air conditioners at 26 degrees - the degree which meets health standards and saves energy. According to scientists, 26 degrees allows for the reduction of CFC emissions, the organic compound contributing to ozone depletion.
Son recruits volunteers by posting messages on Facebook; at present there are 50 young people participating in the campaign.
"My job is to ‘train' the volunteers and show them how to organise activities. They then go to schools and educate children about ways to protect the environment through these fun activities," Son said.
Since its launch in February 2011, the 26-Degree team has gone to seven different schools, teaching children about environmental issues through story-telling, pictures and making up games. Additionally, they have gone to more than ten companies and six colleges and universities to introduce their concept. The team also holds informal talks in two state agencies, with hundreds of people in attendance. Son shared that companies and schools accept the 26-degree standard because it is feasible.
However, the team is faced with difficulties of limited resources.
"We have to contribute our own money to raise funds," said Son. He hopes to expand the concept and its funding in the future.
Meanwhile, to encourage young people to devise new environmental protection and sustainable development ideas, a competition named "Green Economic Ideas" launched in late April. According to the website, around 30 ideas have so far been submitted to the competition.
Luu Anh Tuan, a second-year student in the Geology Department at the University of Natural Resources and the Environment has an idea. He wants to install a steam spraying system to the street lights to reduce the effects of dust.
His idea receives plenty of comments from website visitors. Although some doubt the feasibility of Tuan's idea, many support him, saying that the idea is "unique."
Tuan is determined to defend his idea and has already sent a specific implementation plan to the organisers.
Le Xuan Khoa, member of the "Green Economic Ideas" organisation board, said that the competition offers an opportunity for young people to show their creativity and interest in environmental and sustainable development issues.
"Although some ideas do not sound really feasible, we encourage people to freely present them," Khoa adds. — VNS