A DJ Goes (Eco)Rogue: A Tale of Flawed Planet Activism

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DJs don’t have the best rep, especially when it comes to being environmentally-friendly. Our clubs consume more energy in a weekend than an average household uses in a year, and the rest of the time most of us are hungover at home, with the AC blasting, and Deliveroo on speed dial. A zero waste lifestyle it ain’t.

But some of us do like to buck the trend… a little. When you spend most of your weekends partying hard in nightclubs, your friends and family can hardly believe that you might do things like compost, grow herbs, eat plant-based, and recycle. It’s certainly worlds away from the loud noises, disproportionate amount of plastic straws and cups, and ridiculous amounts of paper wastage, not to mention all the bottles…

Something changed recently. Who knows, maybe I lost one too many brain cells or maybe I’m having an early mid-life crisis. It started in Changsha on New Year’s Eve, where I was doing a gig. The cheers were ushering in 2019, and I had just managed to annoy the local police enough into shutting down the countdown party I was playing at (it was outdoors and snowing, so I wasn’t too unhappy). As I sat back in the hotel, nursing a bottle of Scotch with some techno in the background, I had a deep think about my environmental footprint, of all things. It felt like it was time to do better for the planet.

Most New Year’s resolutions last the best part of two weeks, but this time it’s different. Call it maturity or simply the fact that I’ve internalised that we all need to do our bit. I blame you, Sir David. It’s now April and I’m still recycling and reusing (I’m ashamed to admit I was not doing this until now), growing herbs at home, composting and eating less meat. I’m also getting really pissed off about excessive packaging and messaging supermarkets to complain about it. Sometimes being an environmental activist feels like I’ve taken a time machine to my retirement years.

So far, it’s been an epic personal journey, albeit one packed with mishaps. In a short time I have:

  • Spilled half of my compost on my office suit and in my bag while bringing it to the communal bin.
  • Introduced pests in the kitchen by over-watering plants, and then used some gnarly killer spray to get rid of them, thereby totally defeating the purpose of being green.
  • Created an all-purpose cleaner from lemon juice, vinegar and baking soda that frothed up all over my kitchen and made it smell like someone had yacked everywhere.
  • Been on a drunken social media rant against a major supermarket chain about their excessive packaging…Got a reply on Facebook and proceeded to feel really bad for their social media person.
  • Done my recycling at 3am because I didn’t want the shame of looking like some homeless dude going through my trash in public.
  • Had one drink too many more than once, while telling everyone around me about my plans to boycott this and that corporation, like some wannabe environmental Che Guevara…What those of you in politics call being a ‘champagne socialist!’
  • Taken my Tupperware to the laksa shop to get takeout and was met with some seriously frowning, borderline livid servers. I haven’t been back…
  • Self-righteously waxed on about eco-issues over steaks and/or sushi, was supposed to order something vegan but bailed at the last minute…
  • Made totally disgusting jackfruit carnitas despite spending five hours on it (didn’t realize you were supposed to use the young, unripe jackfruit. Note to aspiring vegans: don’t get the syrupy, ripe version when attempted ‘pulled pork’.
  • Bought all the discount dairy and meat products at my neighbourhood grocery store in a misguided attempt to help the cause because, they are going to throw it out, right?
  • Upon waking up with a massive hangover, ordered fast food that came in shedloads of packaging, possibly from a certain chain known for their ‘Golden Arches.’ Don’t judge me. It was post Sevens. Enough said.

So yeah, I’m flawed, and while I realise that I’m never going to be a poster boy for an eco site like Green Queen, I have learnt a few things along the way. So here goes, DJ Fabsabs’s Guide to Eco Activism:

You Don’t Have To Be Perfect

Some days you will mess up. This aspiring vegan might get a kebab at 3am in Lan Kwai once in a while. So sue me.

Ask For Help

It’s an uphill battle, but people will assist you. Composting in Hong Kong sounds like a real drag. Until I met the cool people at Hong Kong Community Composting, I really didn’t know sh#t about how to do it. The help is out there.

Stop Whining

I love complaining! In Hong Kong we like to blame the powers that be for all of our woes, but in reality, it’s best to go ahead and do something yourself. If a supermarket is using too much packaging – boycott them!

Just Get Started

We always moan about the state of the environment, but even a little action is better than sitting on your a**. During the school strike against climate change I thought: “When did adults become such losers?” The kids are taking direct action, and we should too.

Have Fun

Don’t think of action as a massive pain in the butt, but more as a way of making your life more enjoyable. Yeah sure, I managed to infest my kitchen with pests when I started growing herbs, and my office suit got covered in food scraps when I first started composting, but it was also hilarious! Why so serious?

Lead image courtesy of Pete Sabine.


  • DJ Fabsabs

    Pete Sabine, aka DJ Fabsabs, launched his career hosting indie radio shows on Fresh Air FM (Edinburgh), Subcity (Glasgow) and KSDT (San Diego) before coming back to his hometown of Hong Kong. He is currently spinning at FLM and Salon 10, along with a host of bars, clubs, festivals and online radio stations. He is also a writer for the likes of the South China Morning Post, The Asia Times and EJ Insight.

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