Lagom, a waste collection company in Vietnam, is hoping to keep children away from electronic devices this summer with a project aimed at engaging children with toys made from recycled milk cartons. 

A two-year journey

Lagom Vietnam has collected over 528 tons of empty milk cartons from about 880 kindergartens and primary schools across Vietnam since 2019.

After collection, Lagom processes the milk cartons in a hydraulic blender to separate the pulp from the complex of plastic aluminum. 

The processed pulp is then recycled into notebooks, bags, and ecological roofing sheets at a local paper mill.

Though Lagom is proud of the support its projects have received from communities across the country, the partnerships developed with local schools, particularly in Hanoi, are what it considers its most meaningful achievements. 

One example of Lagom’s meaningful partnerships is its work with Phu Thuong and Dinh Cong elementary schools in Hanoi’s Tay Ho and Hoang Mai Districts, respectively, where children and parents eagerly participated in the company’s recycling initiative.

“We know that children learn by observing and repeating the activities of those around them, so it’s great when parents and teachers model recycling for them,” said Thong.

“It’s also important that teachers share science-based knowledge on living a green lifestyle with their students.”

Teaching about love for nature

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Lagom’s milk carton collection program has taken on new meaning since the company began using the pulp derived from the cartons to create toys meant to keep children away from the screen during long hours spent at home due to local lockdowns, including flashcards to help them learn various subjects and trangrams – a type of jigsaw puzzle which can be assembled into thousands of different shapes.

According to Lagom, playing with toys made from recycled materials helps children better understand the value of waste when it is dealt appropriately.

This can often translate into the creation of garbage sorting habits. 

In addition to its toy-making program, Lagom has Rediscovering Green –  a foundation that introduces books and education products to local communities, particularly in mountainous areas.

Through this initiative, the company hopes to both improve the quality of life and help communities develop sustainable habits.

Since launching its initiatives, Rediscovering Green has produced and marketed around 10,000 toy sets. It has also donated books and seedlings to 31 schools in Nam Tra My District, Quang Nam Province, an area severely damaged by floods and landslides in 2020.

Despite the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic currently hitting Vietnam, Lagom has been holding the online competition “Small Knights for the Environment” for children under 18 years old to share ideas that help decrease waste discharge and improve air quality.

“We would like to spread messages of our hope to cut down on waste. Collecting and recycling is better than discarding,” shared Logam Director Le Trung Thong.

“We will collect more kinds of waste, especially toxic waste that can damage the environment,” he added.

Lagom is a Swedish philosophy that means not too much, not too little, just enough.

Naming the project after the philosophy, Thong and his coworkers hope to promote the idea that consumption must be balanced with recycling.

“We need to identify what makes us happy,” said Thong.

“We need to understand ourselves and how we fit into the vast universe, as well as how to enjoy a peaceful life amongst nature.”

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