It was a little less than a year ago that Hong Konger Lisa Odell became acutely aware of the sheer volume of plastic waste mounting in her own household. More specifically, she suddenly realized she was throwing the rubbish out daily. “Our recycle bin was overflowing with so much plastic,” recalls the Chicago transplant. “I just wanted to find a way to lessen our daily waste.” Inspired and encouraged after reading global zero waste activist and blogger Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home, Odell began looking for ways to reduce plastic waste in her life, but to no avail. She found there were almost no accessible resources to live a zero waste lifestyle in Hong Kong.
“I discovered this plastic-free beeswax wrap, which is a replacement for cling film that you can reuse up to a year or longer that I wanted,” says the eight-year Sai Kung resident. “But then I very quickly realized that if I wanted to get these types of products, I was going to have to pay expensive shipping costs, and that didn’t seem very wise.” Convinced there had to be other like-minded Hong Kongers like her, the former real estate broker decided to start her own business to make living a zero waste lifestyle more accessible and more budget-friendly in the city she calls home. Starting out with three products: Brush with Bamboo Toothbrushes, Abeego Beeswax Food Wrap, and Bambu kitchen utensils, Odell signed up for a booth at Resurrection Church’s Feel Good Fair in Sai Kung last November, and was thrilled by the warm reception she received. “I found out that people do want to live like this,” says Odell with a smile. “They’re ready and motivated but they don’t have the resources, just like I didn’t when I first started. They didn’t know anything like this existed.” Soon after, she launched the Plastic-Free HK website.
In her own daily life, Odell has found that the more sustainably she tries to live, the more she notices how much waste and how much plastic are ever-present, everywhere. These observations serve as her inspiration to continue living waste-free. Having noticed that the younger generation are among the most receptive to her new company, the Hong Kong mom is hopeful the post-millennial generation will bring about the necessary change to save our precious planet. “That’s where the solution is,” muses Odell. “They’re the ones that will really make change happen because their whole generation will be more knowledgable.”
Plastic-Free HK’s whole purpose is to replace or provide an alternative to any wasteful item in the home. Offering plastic-free alternatives to practical things people use on a daily basis like plastic wrap, plastic bottles and plastic straws, her current favorite item is the plastic-free natural dental floss coated in beeswax in a metal tin container from French brand, Le Negri. Odell adds new items and brands all the time and the online shop is also getting ready to ship throughout Asia. In general, Odell finds that most people are quite excited about finding more sustainable ways to live. Some of the most popular items include the stainless steel straws and Pura silicone sport tops are popular items on her online shop, with more items coming arriving in stock soon.
As a one-woman band for Plastic-Free HK, Odell has made big strides within the greater Hong Kong community. Along with Dana Winograd, founder of Plastic Free Seas, and Emily Botsford of ADM Capital Foundation, she recently met with supermarket chain City’Super to discuss their unnecessary and excessive use of plastic-wrapped produce. The popular retail chain was receptive to their suggestions and open to evolving with the times. Up next? Getting Wellcome supermarket to do the same via a petition on Change.org. As Hong Kong continues to get woke about the global zero waste mission, the self-professed hippie hopes to continue to grow the movement and showcase a more sustainable way of living.
Shop Plastic-Free’s online store here. To sign their petition to stop large grocery store chains in Hong Kong’ excessive use of plastic wrap and plastic containers when it comes to produce, click here.
Images courtesy of Pexels (lead photo), ECOlunchboxes, Pura Stainless, and Abeego.