If one has lived or travelled in developing countries one is often struck by the amount of trash that seems to be everywhere. City governments around the world are overwhelmed by the natural waste, much less the non-biodegradeable waste that piles up every day. Traveling through a country like India can often be a depressing experience, simply seeing the amount of plastic rubbish on the side of every street.
Vietnam seems different. The government puts a huge effort into cleaning up trash as a public health campaign. Every night neighbors bring out their waste to the curb when they hear a bell ring. A trash collector, often a woman, comes by with a cart and collects the trash, separating out the biodegradable and recyclable from the non-recyleable. The carts go around every neighborhood in every major city; when they are full they are dumped into garbage trucks and taken out of the city. Another woman comes and sweeps the street clean – every morning.
A bit of propaganda doesn’t hurt either. In the neighborhood in which we are staying I saw the following sign. A rough translation is that “Hai Chau District actively implements the ‘Clean Green Sunday’ movement.” I’m not sure exactly what that is, but it sounds like a government attempt to convince the people that they must all participate in keeping their neighborhoods looking nice. Things could be worse.