“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”.
A wanderlust and a free spirit, the NGO Partnership Manager of PANELTECH U.S., Hong Trinh, is a climate advocate unlike any. As we partner with PANELTECH, Hong will play a key role as an ambassador of ZeLoop by helping us connect with NGOs for ZeLoop Impact. Hong has been constantly on the move for the last six years and has managed to travel to 98 different countries. So far, her favorite expedition has been in Taiwan where she most enjoyed seeing the natural beauty.
Here’s a glimpse of the extremely insightful interview that we’ve conducted with her!
What country have you visited that has been the most inspiring from an environmental perspective?
Europe and the Northern countries especially Iceland. Most places that I want to visit are usually littered because in most countries people do not get sufficient education so they think that it is very normal to throw your trash into nature. Sometimes you go there with a lot of expectations only to find out the place has been littered or become dry because of climate change. Scandinavian countries, Japan and Thailand are very caring about their environment. When it comes to countries like Africa, they have to worry first about traveling a few 100 miles to get their water. We are privileged to even think, talk about and fight the environmental problem.
How has the experience of sailing been for you so far and where did the interest emerge?
I was never into sailing until I was 15 and my dad’s friend showed us pictures of Antarctica and since then I’ve always wanted to go. In 2017, I started with Brazil and made my way to Antarctica where I began my sailing adventures. It feels amazing to know that you’re just moving with the wind and water and not diesel.
What have you noticed about the environment throughout your sailing expeditions?
I witnessed the hottest ever temperature recorded in Antarctica and I knew it was definitely because of climate change. I could also see ice caps melting and the endangered bears. Crossing the Atlantic, when you come closer to landside like Portugal and France, you can see a lot more litter. In Indonesia, when I was working with sea turtles, there was a project to pick up plastic and ocean waste every week and it was heartbreaking to see all the pollution.
If people or governments cared about the environment the way they care about this pandemic, we could reach our 17 SDGs must faster. Who suffers the most? The most vulnerable ones on the earth. They have no way out of this. This will cause such a social gap in the future. The underprivileged will face a crisis as they die of famine and drought due to climate change. They’d be the first and the worst ones to suffer. Pretty soon, we will become a population of 10 billion and that is when the question boils down to who is rich and who is poor. Who is privileged enough to fight the battle with ease and who will face the consequences.
After interacting with people of different communities what do you think is the best way to create a difference and instill pollution awareness?
Raising awareness is the first big step. Don’t stop talking about it. Create a dialogue and question people by asking them how you think it is going to affect your upcoming generations. Ask people how they think it was in the past for their parents or their ancestors and notice how fast the world and its dynamics are changing. Tell your friends “bring your own cutlery” as I do. They know how important it is to me now. Just raise awareness, especially to the young ones, they are the ones you can convince.
Climate change, being caring about it, and fighting it, is what I want to commit to in this lifetime. I don’t want the upcoming generations growing up in a world, which is polluted with trash or air pollution. Who wants to live in a world like that? We are the game-changers. Even if there’s just one person who keeps going, there will be a big difference created someday.
Surely ZeLoopians would love to hear more about Paneltech, in terms of the upcoming and ongoing projects and the challenges faced.
Paneltech is trying to implement a green circular economy in countries where there is a plastic pollution issue. We are mostly trying to repurpose waste and at the same time help empower women while working with NGOs. All of this to build a sustainable path for certain countries because it’s good to know that countries can set on their own sustainable paths. We are trying to learn how to fight climate change using the resources already available and helping the locals using those resources. Paneltech uses a technology that produces 40-70% less CO₂ than the conventional process. It’s a big game-changer. The biggest challenge we face is to find partners, NGOs, or organizations, who we can trust to commit to fight and combat climate change.
Currently, we are working partly with the Government while working with locals to repurpose and deal with the waste problem that they have. It’s sometimes challenging to work in Africa because you have to adjust and work with their culture. Progress is huge but we want to cover all the continents.
How can young people and anyone wanting to make a difference, do their part?
Talk about it. To raise awareness about how important it is to fight climate change and repurpose waste. Put your time and effort into it. Try to talk with your friends and collect as much plastic as you can and get something out of it. All of this plastic can be so resourceful to us and can be used in the making of furniture material, for instance. The plastic market is huge. People can become real heroes as long as they’re collecting their waste.
What is one last message you’d like to give to ZeLoopians?
I wish and believe ZeLoop will grow so much in the upcoming years and I can see young people getting involved and become more motivated. It is indeed amazing that there is already an awareness for climate change in a ZeLoopian’s head because they’re making the effort to be a part of this initiative. To know that you are part of such a community, anywhere you go in this world, is a blessing. You’ll know that there is someone else who cares just as much about the fight for climate change. You’re already doing your part by being a part of this community.
ZeLoop gives people the opportunity to add value to their plastic bottles and fight climate change in their own unique way. Without all of you, none of this is going to work. All of us are included in this together.
To summarize the entirety of the conversation with Hong, we’d like to quote one of her own role models. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” With activists like her, constantly paving their way for a better future and companies like Paneltech and ZeLoop, we are positive, that someday soon enough, we will see a massive difference.