At the age of 33, Giang Thi Kim Cuc could have bought an apartment already if she had not spent so much money on courses in environmental protection and human resources management.
The woman, who lives in Thu Duc City under Ho Chi Minh City, has a soft spot for trash.
Cuc has collected garbage for so many years that many people call her ‘a trash girl.'
Collecting trash is not a boast
Cuc’s main job is in the field of business, but she also has a more important job on weekends: collecting trash.
She is not familiar with luxury clothing and everyone living around her has gotten used to the image of a woman wearing boots, a bag in her left hand, tongs in her right hand, picking up trash.
Cuc not only picks up trash in Ho Chi Minh City but she also joins a group of like-minded members to make ‘responsible trips,’ during which they have gone to 39 out of 63 cities and provinces in Vietnam to collect garbage.
Cuc and her elder sister took part in an international campaign to collect waste along with thousands of members who came from 42 countries.
“I was stunned to read that Vietnam was the fourth country in the world in discarding garbage into the ocean,” she told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“I am still young, I have to do something at once to address the problem.
"I used the issue as a reason that forced me not to give up under any circumstances."
Cuc cannot go by without doing anything when she sees waste, despite being at a park, a train station, the foot of a bridge, or a contaminated channel.
She loves collecting garbage and she is willing to stop doing anything to pick it up.
“I can say for sure that picking up trash is not an action for show,” Cuc said.
“As a matter of fact, the first people who participated in our trip to collect waste before are continuing their jobs as pioneers, laying the foundation for a culture of collecting waste in Vietnam.
“They collect waste because they find it necessary.
“They love this country and want to make it greener and more beautiful."
50,000 bags of garbage
Cuc cannot remember how many garbage collection trips she has partaken in over the last three years, which have been undertaken for nothing except for the public interest.
She has set foot in 39 out of 63 provinces of Vietnam to date.
She and her friends collect garbage anywhere they pay a visit.
Cuc organizes such trips in a professional manner. The volunteers who join the trips will be supplied with hats, gloves, and tongs.
After being picked up by the members, the garbage is packed in bags, which will be transferred to factories to be processed professionally.
“More than 50,000 waste bags with a weight of over 30 kilograms each are the results we have achieved for the last three years," Cuc said.
“Sometimes we only collected around dozens of bags but in special instances, it could take us around one week to clean up the waste, and it would be normal for us to fill around 500 to 700 bags."
In fact, 50,000 bags of waste are nothing in comparison with nearly 18,000 tonnes of waste thrown out every day, according to data supplied by the Da Nang Institute for Socio-Economic Development.
Cuc understands she cannot collect waste for all her life, so she wants to find ways to raise awareness of the need for environmental protection among the people.
Because of this, Cuc has empowered herself by enrolling in various courses on the environment and human resources management domestically and internationally.
“I used a big sum of money which was enough to buy a good apartment to register for courses on the environment,” Cuc said.
“Apart from the fact that I am known for being good at collecting garbage, I would like to gain knowledge to be able to present things correctly and meaningfully,"
After completing a garbage collecting program, Cuc always holds a workshop in the local community to share knowledge about the environment and nature while showing the way to sort out the waste as well.
Cuc is confident that she can “sow” such “green seeds” via such activities after leaving an area.
In that way, there will still be people who continue to conduct their mission, which is not only to collect trash but also to heighten awareness of environmental protection.
Being inspired by the sisters of Cuc, the Green Trips Vietnam group has attracted more than 40,000 members to date.
Many of the key members of the group founded by Cuc are foreign people who are living and working in Vietnam.
They come from many countries like India, the Netherlands, Canada, the U.S., Malaysia, the Philippines, and Japan.