Our environment programs
Mekong Plus aims at sustainable development and to eliminate poverty: 2 very good reasons to put a priority for the environment.
The good agricultural practices
One of the major sources of CO2 is the excessive use of Nitrogen. One estimates that 90% Vietnamese farmers use at least 30% too much chemical fertilizer on their crops. This damages the soil and poisons the crops. It is believed the quantity of Nitrogen has doubled in the last few years and that only about 25% is absorbed by the crops! Mekong Plus organizes training at the farm level, “pilot” or model farmers start first, with our support. After harvest they invite their neighbor villagers for sharing: use less chemicals, but as much compost as possible.
Vietnam is one of the worst polluters of plastic waste, and a big share is “exported” through the rivers to the oceans. Another part pollutes the air: when the plastic waste is burnt in scattered illegal places, at low temperatures, it produces dangerous gases like Dioxin.
Schools against plastic waste!
Mekong Plus tries to raise people’s awareness so that less plastic would be used. When we have our Mekong Bike Tours, one bottle only is allowed, refilled on the way. Villagers are mobilized to collect the garbage, and the school children contribute a large part. The schools sell the collected plastic waste to local collectors, for recycling. Mekong Plus rewards th best performing schools with a few additional scholarships for the poorest children.
Environment friendly houses
However recycling plastic waste is no easy matter. The waste have usually a very low market value, and the collecting is tiring and expensive. Mekong Plus innovates by using panels made of plastic waste to build houses. A small house “absorbs” 1 ton of waste! The construction costs are lowered by as much as 20%. The houses are also fresher and less noisy when it rains. For each such house Mekong Plus gives a 170 € incentive to the household.
Mekong Plus is considering the option, with a few technical partners, to develop the technique of pyrolysis (combustion without oxygen) which allows to transform plastic waste into fuel: petrol, diesel, gas.
Planting more trees
One of the best and cost effective ways to protect the environment is to plant trees which absorb CO2. We support schools, and in Cambodia also the pagodas, to plant more trees. We provide the plants, they supply the bamboo to protect them from animals, and water them regularly.
In Cambodia the farmers face difficulties to source enough good plants: we have a nursery and supply them at will.
The challenge is to plant more trees on public land: how to protect them from the animals? And the farmers do not want shared on their crops, as they are afraid of insects. We try to encourage them by giving them incentives, delivered after 6 or 12 months, according to the number of surviving plants.
To encourage everyone to save on electricity (a large part is produced by coal) every month the teams report their electricity consumption. The best team (taking into account the number of people in the team) is rewarded. Of course none of our offices uses any air conditioning.