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It’s no secret that Hong Kong could do better on the environmental front. We don’t do enough to protect our country parks, or our heritage buildings, or our indigenous animal species. The road to change is a long and hard one. Most of us probably feel our voice cannot get heard, especially if we are not Hong Kong voting citizens. Fortunately the internet has made it easier for eco leaders to gather support from their respective communities and in recent years, the online petition has become a valuable tool for organizers looking to effect change.
In January of this year, after over 66, 000 people had signed a Worldwide Wildlife Foundation (WWF) Hong Kong petition calling for an end to the ivory trade, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive C Y Leung made a big announcement: the government will work towards ending ivory smuggling. Hong Kong has become a major hub for ivory traders, with counterfeit items being funneled through the city to locations around the world, though most are on their way to China, where demand is still strong. In addition, the government will begin looking at putting an end to even legal ivory trade, a huge win for the WWF and most importantly, the elephants! There have been other encouraging victories, including a successful 2014 Change.org petition to Groupon to remove shark fin products from their deals/listings, and a 2012 petition from the HK Shark Foundation that managed to get the practice of consuming shark fin at government events and banquets banned.
Sometimes you might feel powerless to help change the world, but with new community activism sites, we can (and should) lend our voices to worthy causes. We thought it might be helpful to highlight 5 Hong Kong focused petitions that need your attention. It takes less than 5 minutes to sign all of these digitally so please do! We also ask that you help make this post reach as many Hong Kongers as possible by sharing it aggressively: tweet it, facebook it, post it- get it in front of as many eyes as possible. That’s how change happens folks!
Save Hong Kong’s Pink Dolphins
Care2 Petitions is a global community of over 34 million members that also partners with organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign and the WWF. It is headquartered in California and has proven to be a successful platform for change since 1998. They have are currently running a petition to help protect the fate of the pink dolphin, Hong Kong’s marine mascot that is currently seriously endangered. These playful, intelligent mammals have suffered greatly in recent years due to the increased development that has threatened their native habitats. This has been a huge issue with the expansion of the airport with a third runway. The petition has already gotten over 115, 000 signatures. Get yours on there fast! From the latest count, there are less than 78 pink dolphins left in our waters.
Stop Wrapping Produce in Plastic & Styrofoam
Mar 8 2016 Update: this petition is now closed. Thanks for the support!
We have all had this happen: we are shopping for produce at a supermarket in Hong Kong and notice that every apple/cucumber/lemon is individually wrapped in plastic/styrofoam. For those of us who mumble under their breath about how someone needs to finally do something about this abhorrent practice, someone has. There is now a petition on Change.org addressed to Park’n’Shop and Wellcome. Change.org has over 100 million users and is used by groups such as Amnesty International. This is because their large network has proven successful at driving change especially with regards to private businesses. As we mentioned earlier, they were able to get Groupon Hong Kong to change their shark fin stance. The individual packaging of produce is incredibly wasteful and is contributing to our almost-full landfills. In addition such close contact to plastic means that it can leach into our foods; some of the toxic chemicals have been linked to a host of health problems, including causing cancer.
Stop the Destruction of the Lantau North Country Park
Mar 8 2016 Update: this petition is now closed. Thanks for the support!
Designing Hong Kong is a local non-profit organization that promotes, as the name implies, better city design through public action with a focus on sustainability and quality of life. They have started a petition to help save Lantau North Country Park. After the government already cleared much of the park’s land under the ruse of promoting agriculture, the area is now in danger due to proposed plans that include the building of a ferry pier as well as a hotel on land that is currently designated as a Coastal Protection Area, and a system of roads to connect the park via road to Tai O. As is stands, the Lantau North Country Park is twenty-two square kilometers of beautiful greenery, filled with biodiversity, a boon for hikers, nature walkers, cyclists and anyone looking for a repose from the bustling urban jungle of Hong Kong. Let’s keep it that way! Sign the petition here.
Turn Des Voeux Road Central Into A Pedestrian Zone
Launched in September of last year the DVRC Initiative as it is called is quickly gaining traction around the interwebs. The petitioners are looking to drastically improve quality of life in Hong Kong by turning the congested area of Des Voeux Road Central, with its crazy high levels of air pollution, which are hazardous and carcinogenic, into a pedestrian only zone. Great for the up to 4, 000 to 8, 000 people an hour who walk through the area daily. Due to the layout of the area, Des Voeux Road is actually more polluted than neighboring Queen’s Road Central and Connaught Road Central. Creating a pedestrian zone in the area would greatly improve the air quality as well as provide for outdoor seating and community-friendly public areas. The initiative calls to re-zone the area from “Road” to “Pedestrian Zone” and “Environmental Public Transport System”, this would begin with closing the area to cars on Sundays and public holidays as the city worked to create a permanent pedestrian area that still allows for electric trams and buses. Put your virtual John Hancock on the petition, which can be found on Designing Hong Kong.
Ban Plastic Microbeads in Personal Care Products in Hong Kong
Support HK launched in 2013 as a platform for environmentally focused petitions. As a home grown site, Support HK has a range of petitions covering animal welfare, conservation and pollution. Currently, the site is pushing a petition to ban the use of plastic microbeads in personal care products. For those who haven’t heard about this controversy, microbeads are tiny plastic microspheres used as exfoliants in a variety of personal care products, especially body washes and facial scrubs. The microbeads end up in our waterways, and then our rivers and seas, where they absorb toxins and are then consumed by wildlife. Thanks to heavy petitioning by multiple environmental groups, a very recent law was just passed in the United States, and from 2017 microbeads will be banned in that country. Support HK’s petition calls for a change in Hong Kong’s Eco-Responsibility Ordinance and is supported by Plastic Free Seas a HK based environmental organization. Find the petition here.
Remove Shark Fins from Restaurant Menus
Also on Support HK, this petition helps to further support our majestic friends from the deep seas. After the victory of shark fins being removed from all Hong Kong government functions and events, the next step for many is having the endangered species’ fins removed from all restaurant menus throughout Hong Kong. Hong Kongers are the largest consumers of shark fin in the world and our city is literally the center of this ugly trade, every year over 70 million sharks are killed for their fins and half of these go through Hong Kong. Removing this delicatrocity from Cantonese restaurant menus would go a long way towards curbing demand. This petition is also supported by the HK Shark Foundation, a local non-profit organization that works to raise awareness about the worrying plight of the ocean’s most important carnivore.