Tackling Vietnam’s plastic habit

"My ultimate goal is to find a way to deal with plastic waste, starting with my own family and then broadening the network to my local community, and the office where I work.” - Tuyet Vu.

Tuyet and her daughter at the tree-planting day

Tuyet Vu’s sustainability journey began as a university student on exchange in the United Kingdom.

 

On a budget, she noticed her local supermarket incentivised shoppers who brought their own, reusable bags with points which could go towards reducing their bill.

 

While originally motivated by cost savings, this quickly became an obsession. And when Tuyet returned to her home in Vietnam she was determined to learn more about the plastic waste crisis and how she could reduce her reliance on single-use items.

 

The increased use of plastics in Vietnam has accompanied rapid economic growth and urbanisation over the last decade. While some recycling efforts exist, the mismanagement of waste is visibly polluting cities and waterways, contributing to biodiversity loss and climate change.

 

According to the World Bank, Vietnam is among the top five nations contributing to ocean plastics. 

 

“My ultimate goal is to find a way to deal with plastic waste, starting with my own family and then broadening the network to my local community, and the office where I work,” Tuyet says.

 

An estimated 3.1 million metric tons of plastic waste is discharged on land in Vietnam every year and at least 10 percent of it goes into the ocean. Most is single-use, low-value items such as plastic bags, food containers and straws.

 

The Vietnam National Plastics Action Partnership says the amount of plastic in waterways could more than double by 2030 if the country’s current waste collection, recycling and treatment processes are not improved.

Tuyet and Shayne Elliott

 

Small action, big result

 

Tuyet joined ANZ’s Vietnam Green Ambassador squad in 2021. At the time she was the only volunteer in the program. Tuyet felt shy and nervous about running activities for her colleagues, until it dawned on her the impact she could make as a Green Ambassador.

 

“I simply make sure I’m doing the right thing and the Green Ambassador role gives me the chance to turn the ‘I’ into the ‘we’,” Tuyet said, reflecting on the hope it gave her to work with people with the same goals for the planet.

 

Established in 2018, ANZ’s Green Ambassador program seeks to empower staff to live more sustainably. It provides education and pathways to act on environmental topics which our people tell us are of most interest. 

 

Tuyet was this month recognised as ANZ’s Green Ambassador of the Year, for demonstrating enduring leadership in supporting our mission to empower our people to live more sustainably.

ANZ volunteers at days Tuyet has organised

Two ANZ Green Ambassador of the Year runners up were Rebecca Lumbroso, a founding member of the NSW Green Ambassador Squad and the entire TechBar Manila Green Ambassador squad, for their dedication to constantly inspiring those around them.

 

In June this year, to celebrate World Environment Day, Tuyet organised a training session on composting and recycling, attended by 80 employees. She wanted to simplify the common experience of deciphering what can and can’t be recycled and what simple, eco-friendly practices could be adopted at home and in the workplace.

 

Soon after Tuyet arranged an event for nearly 50 of her colleagues to go forest bathing, before planting 500 trees in an area outside Ho Chi Minh City. Tailoring environmental events with local celebrations has also been rewarding.

 

Tuyet encouraged employees to “clean up” their homes for World Cleanup Day while also tying it to Mid-Autumn festival traditions and donating more than 15 boxes of clothes, shoes, books, stationery and toys to those in need.

 

“I always preferred to be a silent watcher, but I told myself that this was the great chance for me to give back to nature and I’m glad I did. Everything we do, even the smallest amount, can have an impact.”

To get involved contact Green Ambassador to find out more.

 

Julia Ford is Purpose Engagement Manager, Group Strategy & Transformation, at ANZ

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