About 1,000 people including many students attended the opening of the Baitong Festival at Exchange Square. The festival aim to educate people about how to plant their own gardens; promote urban gardening, recycling, composting and waste management; and foster the development of sustainable infrastructure.
Speaking before the event, Galeno Chua, CEO at The Idea Consultancy, “Besides teaching people about gardening and recycling, we will also hold a trash disposal competition to encourage local youth to protect the environment. There will be many competitors from various provinces, and the winner will receive a $350 prize.”
Mr Galeno said Baitong was a milestone in terms of raising environmental awareness. He expressed the hope that participants would come away from the event with a better understanding of how to protect the environment, and share that knowledge with other students.
The festival’s primary message to young people is that they can change their behaviour in terms of how they consume plastic, and share their knowledge with others. More importantly, the organisers hope Cambodian youth will act as role models and demonstrate leadership on the environment.
At the end of the event’s second day, a special performance was planned aimed at youth, encouraging them to maintain their commitment to environmental conservation.
Rin Reaksmey, 17, a Grade 11 student at Preah Sisovath High School, said most Cambodians lacked a deep understanding of the current threats to the environment. This can be seen in the way people tend to litter without thinking about the consequences, or its impact on the environment, he said.
Mr Reaksmey added, “I am young, and I want to preserve my country’s natural environment. I want all people to live happily and be healthy. I learned a lot at this event and have come away with an even stronger dedication to protecting the environment.”
Mr Reaksmey said he wanted to be a role model by separating his waste for proper disposal. He planned to tell his friends and family, as well as society at large, about what he had learned in order to help protect the environment.
Chhan Serey, 24, said that, “I learned lots from event such as how to garden, and how to divide types of waste. And I think it’s important to youth to be aware of it.”
Ms Serey added that the trash disposal competition urged people to recycle waste to be usable again. If people love their life, they have to love the environment, she said.