In recent months, Vietnamese youth have begun to shine the spotlight on the detrimental impact of plastic waste in Vietnam. Through their efforts, we’re seeing an increased domestic and international dialogue regarding actions to help reduce damage done to the environment. Citing impactful social trends such as non-single use containers to store food or opting for bamboo straws, Vietnamese youth hope to spark enthusiasm for not only the progress that has been made, but also the progress that can be made.
Through its strong development and connectivity, social networks have become integral communication channels for environmental campaigns organized by Vietnamese youth.
Love for the environment through social networks
In early 2019, Vietnamese social networks began to share series of hashtags promoting environmental awareness. A popular hashtag was the #nostrawchallenge trend. In response to this movement, a number of youth have switched from using straws and recyclable cups to friendlier alternatives.
Last March, another campaign spread throughout social media: #trashtag or #ChallengeforChange, a movement that encourages landfill clean ups. In credit to the viral capacity of social networks, the youth felt emboldened to begin identifying and sharing actions to protect the environment.
Other ideas have also been adopted from nearby countries. Recently, the younger Vietnamese generation convinced several Vietnamese markets owners to consider the economic and practical benefits of using banana leaves to wrap products, a process popularized by supermarkets in Thailand to reduce plastic waste.
Does the fight against plastic waste only appear in the “virtual” world?
Even after the photos, likes, and comments calling for productive and collective action to help the environment, many young Vietnamese still struggle to turn awareness into action or action into habit. This discouraging reality prompts the question, “Are we really aware of environmental protection or are we just following an international trend?”
Soon after the seemingly effective campaign photos spread, tourist areas are still filled with garbage. Beaches were still lined with plastic bags and bottles. Areas for firework shows were littered with balloons and carelessly discarded food. All these images of devastated areas filled with garbage directly contradicted the goals of these campaigns. It seemed as if the bold passion for environmental protection had suddenly vanished.
Turn positive trends into a mindset
“Trends” often have the connotation of short-lived, trivial games. At its peak, trends might generate some attention, but often remain inconsequential at large. Trends are always forgotten after a few months, weeks, or even days.
Though these trends offer enjoyable entertainment, promulgating these trends is not enough to produce and sustain progress. Our mindsets should be shifted to produce sustainable and impactful trends which help to advance the conversations held on environmental protection. Starting with initiatives headed by various environmental campaigns, the environment has measurably improved and awareness of these issues has increased.
If Vietnamese youth continue this trend and normalize these actions into a behavior for subsequent generations, the future of this environment will surely improve.
There’s no need to roll up your sleeves and clean a landfill every weekend. Instead, you just need to use less or properly dispose of water bottles — or even use your empty bottles to grow plants. Next time, try to take a small step. Start to ask yourself, “Is there a way to reuse the plastic bags lying around your home instead of trashing them?” If this mindset is implemented into our daily lives, garbage will no longer be garbage.
As citizens of this earth, we should have a greater consciousness both for the environment and the ways in which we can use social networks to make meaningful contributions to protect the environment. Do you want meaningful movements to rise and shortly disappear on social media? Or do you want to leverage the power of social media to transform these trends into a way of life to leave the world better than you found it?
Adapted by Agnes Tran
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