Trash to treasure: Da Nang’s ‘Give and Take’ app helps used goods find new owners

Trash to treasure: Da Nang’s ‘Give and Take’ app helps used goods find new owners
An old electric rice cooker makes its way into the hands of someone in need thanks to the ‘Give and Take’ app in Da Nang, Vietnam. Photo: Tan Luc / Tuoi Tre

A mobile app recently launched in the central city of Da Nang is helping its users give away things they no longer use to those in need.

We have all been there, staring at a shirt we no longer wear or an old laptop collecting dust on a closet shelf. “Should it stay or should it go,” we think to ourselves.

It seems a shame to throw out something that’s still in great condition, yet the idea of wasting precious space on something we’ll likely never use again makes a compelling argument for a trip to the garbage can.

The Da Nang Information and Communications Department, however, is giving the city’s residents a third option: charity.

‘Cho va Nhan’ (Give and Take), an app developed through a partnership between the department and a local private software company, connects users looking to unload gently used goods they no longer use with others in the community eager to give such unwanted items a new lease on life.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

Nguyen Van Vinh, a resident of Da Nang’s Lien Chieu District, was one of the app’s first users, donating a solar-powered phone charger he was gifted at a work conference.

Although Vinh appreciated the device, he had no use for it and it soon began gathering dust in his office. After reading an article printed in a local newspaper about the launch of ‘Give and Take,’ Vinh decided to snap a photo of the charger and post it to the app.

Within just a few hours, five people sent messages to Vinh asking for the charger. He eventually decided to give it to a father who said it would be a great gift for his child who was deeply interested in science.

As Vinh’s inner Marie Kondo took hold, he found himself on a mission to completely declutter his workspace, freeing himself from his trash by using ‘Give and Take’ to let others make it their treasure.

Kondo, a Japanese author and TV show host, became internationally known for her books and shows on her self-titled method of tidying up and organizing one’s living space.

Nguyen Thi Be is one of hundreds of thankful users who have found themselves on the receiving end of the Give and Take app.

Be, from Thanh Khe District, Da Nang, was not sure where to turn when the hand-me-down computer her high school-aged daughter depended on for school assignments began shorting out.

A local technician told her that the computer did not have enough memory to function and the monitor was essentially obsolete.

Knowing Be and her family could not afford the cost of repairs, he helped her browse ‘Give and Take’ until she was able to connect with someone offering four free sticks or RAM and another offering a free monitor.

Her daughter no longer worries about whether or not she will be able to finish her assignments.

Building a sympathetic society

‘Give and Take’ was the result of a meeting held between officials from Da Nang’s Information and Communications Department and Sioux High Tech Software Ltd. to brainstorm ways to build the city into a more connected and sympathetic community.

‘Give and Take’ isn’t Sioux’s first contribution to Da Nang’s welfare. In just a few short years it has developed several free apps to aid the city’s growth, including, ‘Gop Y Da Nang’ (Da Nang Feedback) — a platform which allows residents and visitors to offer feedback on their experience in the city — and DanaBus, Da Nang’s public bus scheduling and route map application.

With ‘Give and Take,’ Sioux hopes to play their part in keeping perfectly useable goods out of landfills and in the hands of people in need.

According to Vo Tat Thanh, the app’s lead developer, since ‘Give and Take’ is a non-profit initiative, each member of the development team took part in the project on a voluntary basis.

“We had interns volunteer to write the code and build the software, then Sioux’s more experienced employees reviewed and refined their work. As Sioux had many projects [running at the same time], most of the team worked overtime to finish ‘Give and Take,’” Thanh said.

“Managing the project became an enormous challenge because everyone was trying to squeeze in work between their already busy schedules. We all felt under pressure to meet the deadline. Fortunately, everything went well and we’re already growing our user base,” Thanh added.

According to Nguyen Van Quoc, the director of the Da Nang Community Information Services Center — the organization which manages the app — over 3,000 people already downloaded the app since its launch and over 1,000 items have been donated to those in need, including clothes, shoes, electronic devices, books, stationery, toys, appliances, and furniture.

In the future, Quoc hopes to extend the app’s scope of operation beyond Da Nang, add the ability for users to report lost property, and develop an extension within the app that residents can use for fundraising.

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