babyinhanoi babyinhanoi posted June 1st, 2010 at 1:09 pm to Ask ANH Discussions. Viewed 575 times. Answered 56 times.

Why do Hanoi-ans drop litter while they are eating in street foods, or in public places?

Last answered by Newman about 105 months ago.

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Vegas wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 1:14 pm
Vegas (elite user)

It's your mission to find out. Next time you see this happening, tether your inner rage, approach them and calmly explain that dropping rubbish in the street is just not the done thing, and could they please pick up what they dropped - and, while they're down there, how about something else! - and place it in the nearest bin*. I'm sure they'll appreciate your wisdom.

Go forth, and re-educate!

metal_rooster wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 1:54 pm

because they dont care. you know how alot of tree-huggers talk about experiencing "new perspectives", etc in foreign countries. Well, this is one of them. If you tried to explain environmentalism to them, they would probably look at you like youre speaking Greek. Anyway they are much less litterbugs here than some countries.

Longh wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 2:10 pm
Longh (elite user)

One reason may be that the trash collectors pick up the garbage from some what "designated" location on the streets 2-4 times a day.

Usually the shop owners are required to sweep the garbage into a small pile to the corner of their stall area/in front of the wall between two houses which then when they are closed or it is close to the the trash collectors come. Then they sweep it up.

Grant wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 2:17 pm
Grant (elite user)


It's an education thing and an infrastructure issue. In the West, well ok, South a bit, we all had to taught to "Do The Right Thing" because we were just as crap at.


TscTempest wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 3:26 pm
TscTempest (elite user)

Blast from the Past, Do the Right Thing.

DabHand wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Tricky one , trying to teach some SE Asians not to litter is like trying to teach some Americans to walk to the shop

Vegas wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 4:15 pm
Vegas (elite user)

Seriously, if you have to ask this question, you're a bit dopey. I'm just sayin'.

NickinNam wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Dropping litter keeps people employed. If nobody dropped litter, how many people fresh from the country side would lose their jobs?

cliffhanger wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 5:15 pm
cliffhanger (elite user)

And it also keeps the hospitals, rats, and stray dogs employed with all the rot available for deliberate or accidental ingestion.

lcpossum wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 5:54 pm

I feel that the matter of where your trash goes is a lot like the old toilet seat debate...up or down? Each side has valid arguments.

babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 5:54 pm

An essay on environmental pollution:

In the advent of our modern technology, people have engaged themselves into somehow in modernism which might become lapses for ignoring our environment nowadays. Specifically, in Vietnam, major transition should be done as for people, government and somehow for ourselves. This essay will pinpoint certain drawbacks and solutions on how we could perpetuate and eventually eliminate the issue of environmental pollution.

First of all, environmental problems are mostly caused by human’s ignorance to their surroundings. For instance, we might do not know this, but it is usually Vietnamese people’s habit to throw or drop litters anywhere, in food shops, in streets and even in public places. Second, because of the technology these days, people tend to build more factories and manufacture goods such as plastic bags, air sprays, and the like without even knowing that might as well affect our land, water and air. Lastly, government has done ways and means to minimize the rubbish however; on the contrary, people are still so numb to understand the importance of our eco-system.

Nonetheless, this certain dilemma of pollution has been present before and now, might as well take actions before it would be too late. As an individual, we should take into account our own rubbish—dispose that in the proper area and if so ever, you are walking in the streets and could see trashes, why not pick it up and throw it in bins?, why still wait for the metro aids when even you—in your own simple ways you could solve this problem. As for society, let us stop blaming our government; instead help them implement the laws that have concerns on our environment. Through helping each other hand in hand, we will eventually grow and become more productive as humans and progressive as a country.

In summary, I dare all of you as well as myself, to help build a clean and green country for our young and for our future generations. This is the only way to solve this circumstance, helping and stop being hypocrites of our surroundings. I hope that as soon as possible this issue on our environment will be solved and in my perspectives, I may be so optimistic but that is the way it is.

lcpossum wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Yada, yada, yada. Another newborn shows up to enlighten us to the error of our ways. Once you've been around the block a time or two you might notice that all your enlightening talk really doesn't go too far outside your own country.

Me? I come from a land that doesn't litter, and so I don't litter. Vietnamese litter and have probably been doing it longer than your people have been down from the trees. They enjoy it; leave 'em alone.

Vegas wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:01 pm
Vegas (elite user)


babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:02 pm

I'm not from Vietnam either...

lcpossum wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Yep, it shows.

babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:06 pm

I just want to comment on the things that I could see in here...^^;;;

It's just a piece of writing work about environment...I just shared it,...

Guess, I'm still so critical--understanding .........

babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:07 pm

hehehehe..thanks lcpossum..^^*;;

lcpossum wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Hey, baby..., you just arrived. Sit back, revel in it, soak it up for awhile, THEN share your thoughts with us.

babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:29 pm

hehehe..I've been here for almost 4 months so I guess I'm getting used to it...hehehe!~

adjustment period is, might as it with them....^^;;; "we belong"..hehhe

lcpossum wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:34 pm

You may have been in Hanoi for 4 months but you were "born" HERE yesterday. Relax and enjoy. I've probably been working in VN for longer than you've been existent. I like it here, litter and all. I relax and enjoy.

lcpossum wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:35 pm

...except when I see people on here acting stupid in public. No, didn't mean you.

Grant wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:37 pm
Grant (elite user)


I always thought it DIB not DYB.

One of the best efforts I've seen was a neighbour in the countryside hurling a bag of garbage over her fence just as the her neighbour hurled a bag into her backyard. I laughed so hard I nearly cried. They certainly heard me as the next day two bags of rubbish mysteriously ended up in my back yard......then it was on for young and old. Garbage flying everywhere.

I did have the advantage though. The house I was in was taller so I could lob other people's garbage (never my own as that would have been too obvious 'nope, not my garbage') onto her first and second floor rear balconies from my roof.

The two ladies continued to hurl insults at eachother for quite some time. Smug.


babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:42 pm


I was just being curious...not being somewhat dopey..^^;;

Well, I'm still from SE Asia, specifically---Pearl of the Orient...Have you been there??...hmmmpp??>>....

babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 6:44 pm

hehehe..and that was funny grant!~heheh.,..

pippasweetie wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 7:38 pm
pippasweetie (elite user)

In some restaurants here, but a lot more in Central Vietnam (hotel restaurants, not little road side cafes) and at weddings etc I have seen in people throw bones, prawn shells, napkins, bottle tops, spit on the floor etc. The floor becomes a total dump, and this is normal. At the end of the night the staff sweep it up.

Always found it hard to enjoy the ambience in a restaurant like this......

babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 7:41 pm

yes,,it's'll be thinking twice if you will eat there or not??...hehhe

de2facon wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 7:57 pm
de2facon (elite user)

@ babyinhanoi: there is considerable debate among scholars and the well-read about the exact location of the " Pearl of the Orient ", so what's your story?

babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 8:02 pm

well, it's my homeland.."Philippines"...
as our national hero(Jose Rizal)had named that "Perlas ng Silanganan--which specifically called "Pearl of the Orient"because of bountiful fishes and rich marine life...there was a debate in that,,but as for me--being Filipino and my country--the best description would be that one as well...^^;;;

Devorah wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 8:36 pm

@OP - it seems to be the "thing to do." Trash Is thrown anywhere and everywhere and somebody, the staff, the ladies in beige w/face masks sweep it up. i guess if you know someone is going to clean up after you, you don't worry about it. Does that make it right? No.
@Icpossum - nice to know you pick up after yourself but what about the millions of others all over the US, even in the south, who think nothing of throwing that cigarette butt, coke can out the window of every highway you drive along.

babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 8:39 pm

devorah..thanks for helping me..~~hehehe...^^*

de2facon wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 8:42 pm
de2facon (elite user)

" Every litter bit hurts"

--Old USA beautification campaign slogan

adobo_emissary wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Litter is common in developing countries. At least in Hanoi, someone actually collects them in a specific time. It's the same in some areas in Manila.

babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 8:49 pm

@abodo:maybe...but im not from manila either,,,,^^;;;i came from a place where my city has been ranked as the clean and green city in Philippines...

so, way of curiosity on how Hanoi-ans do their thing,,i asked this question?...hehhe..^^*;;;

domingorio wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 8:49 pm
domingorio (elite user)

Jeeze.. bleeding heart environmentalists.

Get over it. You think Hanoi streets are bad? Check out Halong Bay. The junks just throw their trash back into the bay. I've kayaked through oil spills, needles, endless amounts of plastic.. I'm not saying its okay, but the government has EVERYTHING to do with it. If they understood the importance of keeping Halong Bay clean - and its direct impact on the growing percentage of tourists (and people spending money in the country) they should change the laws on rubbish disposal.

I agree with most, the trash provides people with jobs. Also, where do you put your trash? Where is "the proper place"? I for one have never seen a massive garbage bin to toss my trash, you leave it outside your house for the trash collectors to pick it up.

I'm not trying to single you out.. but i'm Filipina myself and its not like the streets of Manila are kept clean and trash free.

lcpossum wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 9:08 pm

@Devorah, what about them? Maybe, that's part of why we call them white trash. And that's what God invented the Highway Patrol for...and "community service hours."

lcpossum wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Oh, I forgot...hehe.

de2facon wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 9:12 pm
de2facon (elite user)

@ domingorio & Adobo__emissary:

Is it the case that babyinhanoi is correct as to location of the " Pearl of the Orient" ? The phrase is barely used anymore except as a historical reference and several places once claimed the mantle of being
*The* Pearl.

Serious inquiry.


jim14392 wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Dont bring your bS here in Hanoi... just enjoy the ride and do your thingy...

TscTempest wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 9:18 pm
TscTempest (elite user)

Ummmm you put your garbage into the litter bins. Yellow for hard stuff, green for vegetable matter.

After this it get emptied, down the side of the embankment of any local pond. then it gets cleaned up by all those good little kidies who take a day off school for some global enviro action activity, recycled back through the bins and the cycle begins again.


read that with a Gary Oldman voice over, ala Mr. Zorg from the 5th Element

Grant wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 9:45 pm
Grant (elite user)


That had me horribly confused. I've been ready the papers and put a different face to the name. I was thinking where the hell was Gary Coleman in the 5th Element...


DabHand wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Well I reckon everybody all over the world should all just hoy all of their little directly onto the street because eventually it will turn into carbon then later down the line into fossil fuels then petrol so if the whole world unites as one and throws all their little directly onto the street, who knows in one year we might be able to create enough to keep the states in petrol for 3 and half minutes

adobo_emissary wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 10:17 pm


The term "Pearl of the Orient" in reference to the Philippines was coined by a Spanish Jesuit, in the 18th century during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade. It's a reference maybe for being a rich country and main trade center for exchanging goods between Asia and Europe (silk, gold, spices, pearls, etc. )

Then term "Pearl of the Orient Seas" was used by the national hero, Rizal, in his last poem before he was executed.

Thus I think "Pearl of the Orient" is a romanticized term, kind of a term of endearment to call one's country and not really a factual geographical claim.

adobo_emissary wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Also, "orient" is an outdated term at least when used as a noun in reference to a person.

babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 10:54 pm

@de2facon: why not ask Mr. Google??,,,^^;;;

keinnon wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 11:40 pm

The OP's original question was "why do they...?"

My partner has a theory that may be correct:

In years gone by packaging in Vietnam was all organic: banana leaves etc. So if it was tossed it would simply decompose. Then along came plastic packaging....

The times are achanging though. My students display an awareness of environmental concerns, especially about those things they see everyday eg. air pollution, noise pollution and plastic pollution. I expect we'll see more bins and eventually a healthier ultimate disposal of the trash.

Garbage disposal and recycling have dramatically changed in NA in my lifetime. Although it always amazes me that in NYC you don't see recycling bins everywhere like you do in say Seattle. Where I live, on an island on Canada's west coast, people still bury things in their backyards because it's too expensive to transport the stuff to town (eg. drywall, a really nasty substance). And where does all that stuff we so sanctimoniously recycle in America end up anyways?

So I'll toss my stuff in the nearest trash bin when I'm in Vietnam (or save it until I find one), and I'll talk to folks who want to talk about problems and solutions, but I'm certainly not going to go out and try to 'educate' the general public. It's their country, their society and they'll address the issue, or not, as they see fit. Environmental issues are written about in the Vietnamese press; for whatever that's worth.

DabHand wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Yeah heard that banana leaf theory before in Cambodia , they are utter pigs there, just literally drop there trash exactly where they stand and then play in it all day, you should have seen sihanoukville beach at 9 bloody 30 in the morning one Kings birthday holiday, they made their bit look like a polystyrene dump, and yep played in it all day

babyinhanoi wrote on June 1st, 2010 at 11:45 pm

you are really right keinnon~!....^^;;;

it was just a mere curiousness of this new society for me~!

de2facon wrote on June 2nd, 2010 at 12:19 am
de2facon (elite user)

Regarding ask google about Pearl of the Orient.

I'd rather hear from those Asian's claiming to be from the Pearl of the Orient just like you babyinhanoi tan read a bunch of disparate entries probably posed by a bunch of Westerners.

After all is said and done, there ain't nothing like the real

babyinhanoi wrote on June 2nd, 2010 at 12:25 am

well,, you're probably right....

so to speak, I'm a baby from the Pearl of the Orient...^^*;;

Backbone wrote on June 3rd, 2010 at 12:09 am

Many others have correctly stated that the dilemma is caused by (A) an infrastructure issue (not having enough trash cans, and not having scheduled pick-ups to empty such trash cans), and (B) an educational issue where people are not taught about how trash makes its way into freshwater systems and pollutes the groundwater, streams, etc.

But this is a common failing in many countries in Southeast Asia. Part of the failure is that it is that the people learn to "pass the buck". By that, I mean they place the duty (or onus) of picking up the trash on some anonymous street worker or recycler. It is common, not only in Hanoi but also in Bangkok, to hear someone ENCOURAGE you to throw your plastic on the street because a poor person will come by and collect it for trading in at the recycling station.

While they may be correct in that assumption, it's obviously not the most responsible approach.
It's like purposefully not moving out of the way of an on-coming car: "Don't worry, he will move, so I don't have to." Take responsibility for yourself and your actions.

Newman wrote on June 3rd, 2010 at 9:25 am
Newman (elite user)

Now that's drawing a long bow Backbone. Dropping a piece of plastic onto the street won't get you instantly killed in the same way as not avoiding an oncoming car. I get the point - poor analogy though.

I notice that there are moves afoot to introduce more of those small street sweeper machines to keep the streets clean. Admirable but actually probably won't do a better job than the human sweepers. And I hope someone has thought about redeployment for the sweepers. We have sweepers every day in my neighbourhood, even cleaning up dirt on the road from construction vehicles. Wonderful public service.

Of course there is also the issue of motorised street sweepers adding to the pollution and congestion problem. I just don't think the simple answer of machines replacing people is always the right one.

As to the whole litter thing, over the last 6 months the authorities have installed numerous new rubbish bins all around the city. Getting people use to using them will take time, like everything else when you want to achieve wholesale social change.

Little steps lead to great journeys.

Backbone wrote on June 3rd, 2010 at 11:34 am

Yeah, I did overreach a bit, good call. But I do think that people often incorrectly assume that a little bit of plastic is harmless, which is not the case. You made the point "Little steps lead to great journeys." Well, a little plastic leads to big landfills, in much the same way. Additionally, as plastic breaks down over time (either quickly from burning trash piles, or slowly from weathering) it releases all kinds of noxious gases which are poisonous and carcinogenic. Now imagine those carcinogens entering the waterways and people drinking it. It may be a slower death than a motorbike accident, but it can be deadly all the same.

Newman wrote on June 3rd, 2010 at 10:30 pm
Newman (elite user)

I agree that littering is wrong. Lets be clear on that. My point is that it is unreasonable to expect massive social change in an instant. Particularly when you are dealing with substantial socio-economic variances, urban to regional to rural to remote and beyond.

Picking on someone because they know that someone else will pick up their rubbish if they throw it away, is a pointless exercise. Worldviews are very different. Awareness of broader issues is very different. The difference between feeding your family and worrying about litter - feeding the family wins every time.

Imagine when these same people watch on TV and see that world leaders can't even agree on climate initiatives - they will rightly ask why we pick on them when we can't get our own houses in order.

I'm not saying change shouldn't happen. I'm saying that lasting and effective and renewable change takes time. Development is a really complicated thing. Development with dignity and integrity is still more complicated.

pete123 wrote on June 4th, 2010 at 1:05 am

I like the VN attitude to rubbish collection. I can throw all my household rubbish into the street and within an hour it's gone. One woman takes the plastic water bottles, another sifts through and takes the beer cans. Tomorrow, I'm going to throw an old motorbike it's gone in 10 mins. Efficient huh?

pete123 wrote on June 4th, 2010 at 1:15 am

Like most newhanoians, I pay thousands of dollars in tax each year. If the money were spent on development rather than putting a new car on every Tom, Dick and Hoang's driveway then Vietnam could be a better place.

Newman wrote on June 4th, 2010 at 9:17 am
Newman (elite user)

Straying way off topic... the interesting thing is working out the difference between what development looks like for Vietnam vs what development looks like for us, through our tinted spectacles so-to-speak.

The problem is that when a developing country looks outwards at so-called developed countries, what they see is a car in the driveway of every Tom, Dick & Hoang - often more than one.

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