“It’s because of climate change that we try to do our part,” he explains. “It’s not just our own lives, it’s other peoples’ lives that are affected by it. We may not see the consequences of our actions but people in other countries; climate change is affecting them now.”
Tuan has been in Australia since he was a kid, and Tien arrived from Vietnam a couple of years ago. She recently took part in an Environment Victoria field trip to a recycling factory, and it was an eye-opening experience: “Some things that people put in their recycling bin, other people have to pick it out with their own hands.” She found out that factory staff manually sort through the waste, and it’s a dangerous job when residents have thrown batteries, fire hydrants and other large, heavy, unrecyclable objects into their recycling bin. “We can all help by putting the right things in the recycling bin”, says Tuan, and these days he makes sure that Glad Wrap, plastic bags and other soft plastics don’t get put in the recycling bin.
Tien has also been doing work for Flemington Neighbourhood Renewal, explaining recycling to a group of Vietnamese households in the Flemington public housing estate. The households are taking part in a recycling pilot program, which Environment Victoria helped bring about.
Tien’s taken some of that knowledge back home to Tuan, and they now bring Green Bags to the shops, to reduce the amount of plastic they get in the first place. They’ve also been busy finding out about different types of compost bins. Food waste makes up almost half of the waste in an average household, so it’s an easy way to make a big difference.
Tuan thinks that helping the environment “has to start somewhere”.
For him and Tien reducing the amount of household waste is a good place to start.
Story by Benita Auterinen