In honor of Zero Waste Week June 7th through 14th 2015, the incredible campaign spearheaded by our friends at Ecozine and HK Cleanup which invites Hong Kongers to commit to one week of sending NOTHING to the landfill in order to raise awareness about our huge trash problem, we thought we would share our top 10 ways to be a more waste conscious citizen. None of these are difficult- some take more planning than others but they are all within your grasp.
1. Bring your own cup/mug – whether your like it iced or piping hot, there are plenty of great options for a bring-your-own-mug type of situation. Your daily Starbucks fix results in so much wasted cardboard, paper and plastic materials- it’s really so easy to bring your own.
2. Invest in a home water filter – and seriously commit to no more bottled water. Love fizzy water? Get your own sodamaker. Just stop buying the bottled stuff. It’s one of humanity’s most wasteful habits, costs us millions in wasted CO2 and airmiles, clogs our landfills and most sadly, has wrecked havoc on our oceans- which is where all of those bottles end up.
3. Use public transport – we have one of the best (if not THE best) public transportation systems on the planet. Other countries send envoys to study it. Tourists are regularly gobsmacked by how clean and timely it is. So why aren’t more of us using it? Charming trams, minibuses a-k-a group taxis, double deckers, the subway (which now covers you all the way to Kennedy Town)- USE IT! You will save thousands of dollars a year and countless gallons of gas.
4. Buy local produce– organic or otherwise. There are hundreds of farms in the city- support the local farmers and buy what’s fresh and in season. It’s way better for your health and a HUGE load off of your carbon footprint bill. Plus, the more farms we support, the more biodiversity we create within Hong Kong territories, and we need them to keep Hong Kong green. We love our city because of its buildings AND its lush greenery. Let’s keep it that way.
5. ALWAYS have a reusable bag on you! Keep a foldable shopping bag in your purse or your pocket (no excuses gents- tiny squares to tuck into your pants are available) and ALWAYS. If you are going for a big grocery shop, PLAN ahead and bring plenty of bags, including ones for chilled/frozen products. Resolve to never EVER use paper or plastic bags from a shop. It’s totally doable. You just have to want to. Plus are we really so spoiled that we can afford to spend 50 cents each time we forget to come prepared?
6. Eat less meat. Do we sound like a broken record? Sorry. But until meat rearing practices improve, and until humanity understands that eating meat three times a day is completely unrealistic, we are going to keep banging on about this.
7. No more disposable diapers. Apologies to all moms in advance- we know your job is tough and we hate to burden you but please, please, please consider using reusable diapers, cloth or otherwise. It used to be a hippy habit but today, the reusable options are both trendy and easy to use. Give them a try, we beg you! Our landfills are absolutely crammed with non-biodegradable, not to mention toxic, dirty nappies.
8. Support restaurants that source sustainably and consciously, and practice a low-waste ethos- choosing ecologically sourced ingredients, working with food waste charities, engaging in recycling programs, using recycled materials… The F&B industry is a major contributor to our landfills. A few eco-minded restauranteurs are trying to change that. Support them, and more will open up. MANA, the IHM Group (Posto Pubblico, Linguini Fini et al), Mavericks, the Grassroots Pantry family and many more are doing their part so do yours.
9. Bring utensils with you and say no to utensils when you order takeaways. The amount of wasted chopsticks, forks, knives, spoons, napkins- all in their plastic wrapping- is truly heartbreaking. These are so easy to carry in your pocket or your bag, and can be rinsed off anywhere.
10. It’s kind of old-fashioned but we say: bring back the handkerchief. Unless you are sick with the flu, a handkerchief is a great solution to all the wasted tissues and wipes, and you can wash it overnight daily if you like.
Photo credits: MTR-Station via photopin (license), Cauliflower via photopin (license), Lentil Burger with pesto and hot chilli sauce – Lentil As Anything via photopin (license), 91957046 via photopin (license) and Charlie Banana.