QUẢNG NINH — GOMers, a youth volunteer group, are collecting used batteries to help protect the environment of northern Quảng Ninh Province.
Founded in July 2021, the group’s mission is to control waste damage to the environment from used batteries, Phụ nữ Việt Nam (Vietnamese Women) online newspaper reports.
“The name GOMers comes from the Vietnamese verb gom, which means ‘collect’. We want to be the generation that will collect the dreams of people who want to protect the environment,” said Nguyễn Thị Hoàng Anh, the group founder.
Anh met her friends and co-founders while still in high school. They participated in an environmental debate competition in 2019 and have become more active in the fight against pollution.
But being an environmental activist is not an easy task for high schoolers.
“We had two battery recycle projects that had to be ended abruptly due to the recycling plant being closed down without notice,” said Anh. “It’s sad because our projects were really getting good public awareness.”
Research conducted by the group in January showed that 77 per cent of students have never recycled used batteries, and 88 per cent have never heard of battery recycling. The group are on a mission to change this.
The group initialised has created an online campaign to raise awareness of battery recycling, and social media posts focus on the negative effects of mishandled batteries on the environment and the wrong perceptions of the public on batteries.
The group also holds offline workshops to inform the public and stage exchange events where people can trade their used batteries for plants.
“Waste such as used batteries are becoming a worrisome factor to the environment,” said Thanh Bình, a group member. “The chemicals inside are unpredictably dangerous, and public ignorance is just fuelling the fire.”
In one of their meetings, the group shared how they saw local people handle used batteries.
“We saw that they took them out with other waste, or they burn them directly,” said Anh. “I even saw somebody cook used batteries with Bánh Chưng (sticky rice cake). It’s so dangerous, but nobody is aware of this.”
As local recycling facilities are either focused on recycling plastic or do not have proper media campaigning, the group have taken it upon themselves to make things better, despite others thinking they are wasting their time.
“Some call us dreamers, but I believe that dreams will never come true if you never act,” said Anh. “We have some members that work tirelessly just because of that belief, and we know we’re not the only ones.”
Duy Hưng, another member, said: “The environment is withering every single day, even from due to the smallest poor habits of people. Either we act now, or we have nowhere else to live.” — VNS