A Vietnamese model and businesswoman has been encouraging local young people to pursue an environmentally conscious lifestyle by being a role model and spreading her influence through social media.
Tong Khanh Linh, better known as Helly Tong, is the co-founder of Lai Day Refill Station, an environmentally conscious chain of stores that sells eco-friendly alternatives of such necessities as shampoos, soaps, bags, and amenities, among others.
The chain, Lai Day Refill Station, is special in that it refills containers brought by customers rather than providing them with new products.
Even though she is no expert in environment issues, Helly dedicates her career and life to minimizing waste, especially single-use waste.
“The ideal goal is zero-waste, but it is a luxurious idea not many people can reach,” Helly said.
“I think that going back to a simplistic and naturally friendly lifestyle like our ancestors did is already living ‘green’,” Helly said.
People living decades ago only had fundamental needs, so Helly believes going against a fussy lifestyle is the best solution to minimize waste.
The 24-year-old model has started cutting down needs in an effort to minimize her waste many years ago.
In a month she only goes shopping twice and instead of buying things she would like to have, she only purchases goods she truly needs from brands and sellers that are committed to using natural materials and being environmentally conscious.
“Even though I still work in the fashion industry, clothing became the second most important thing to me,” Helly said.
The model said she is willing to reject opportunities if it means she has to work with brands whose values do not align with her lifestyle.
She added that is one of her great challenges to be a “fashionista” but still commit to protecting the environment.
Even though many believe it is easier for an individual to be environmentally concerned than for a business, the young businesswoman says it might be challenging but not necessarily impossible.
“One less bubble wrap, one less carton box, and a bit less tape are all positive changes already,” Helly said.
However, being environmentally conscious remains everyone’s responsibility, so Helly advises using already-used carton boxes to place goods in when purchasing goods instead of getting a new plastic bag.
That way, the carton boxes get to be reused several times instead of being thrown out after being used only once.
Helly also emphasized that plastic bags are currently being one of the main contributors of total plastic waste globally, which is also the main reason why many people started purchasing their amenities in the form of refilling.
This means once a customer uses up a product, they will bring its container to get it refilled, instead of disposing of the container and buying a brand new product.
It is also important to note that while many people started reducing their own plastic waste, they still need to keep in mind that environmentally friendly products still contribute to the pollution due to the carbon emission in the process of transporting the products to the customers or to the stores from the place of manufacture.
“The businesses need to be aware of their own responsibility in retrieving and recycling the packaging from when they develop new products,” she said.
In addition to collecting and recycling trash, the government needs to educate the country so that each individual understands their own responsibility in protecting the environment, which also means their awareness in choosing products that are sustainable rather than just cost-efficient.
Helly Tong became known to Vietnamese public when she was 18.
The model is known for her scandal-free career and her determination in running her business.
At 19, she impressed others by launching three different startups in the fields of coffee, fashion, and cosmetics, at the same time.
After that, Helly traveled the world and came back to a new lifestyle of mindfulness, which is when she founded her new business The Yen Concept, a tree-providing and tree-caring service.
In 2018, Helly partnered with Quyen Nguyen to found Lai Day Refill Station.