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There's this thing called plastic...

| © Goethe-Institut Saigon

Have you ever wondered where the transparent bag, in which our food from the supermarket is packed in, actually comes from? Where and how exactly was it produced? What happens to it when we throw it back into the trash?

Our everyday lives are so full of plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic shoes, plastic signs, plastic packaging and plastic chairs that we miss to perceive and identify this substance as plastic. Rarely do we ask ourselves about its origin and the process of its manufacturing. Most children know that the coconut comes from the palm tree, wood comes from forests and eggs from chicken or other birds - but where does the plastic come from?

An organization called Change VN has been studying consumer behaviour in Vietnam and tries to bring more attention to this important issue. They distribute reusable bags and also organize the "21 Day No Plastic Challenge" 

Equally noteworthy is the initiative of Cleanup Vietnam. It consists of different groups that spontaneously organize and clean up a district or beach section. In Saigon, with the support of the World Bank, new bus lines with greener busses are gradually being introduced. The responsible use of plastic is also of great concern to the Goethe-Institut, so that recently plastic straws were completely banned from its own cafeteria.

This may seem like a small step to the general plastic problem, but everyone can take those small steps and contribute to an improved environmental health. It begins by understanding that plastic is actually a synthetic chemical made out of petroleum. A single plastic bottle takes at least 500 years to rot, while the microplastic is completely indestructible. The Goethe-Institut would like to set an example in the case against plastic and encourage everyone to participate. We are delighted to see sustainability initiatives around the world, especially in Vietnam, but let's not forget that plastic production, as any other production, is controlled by us, the consumers.