Water for Free coming to Southern District

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We, Go Green Hong Kong, are delighted to invite schools/ community centres/ NGO to participate in the captioned project as fully funded by the Southern District Council.

Details of the project:

1. Installation of one water dispenser  including a 3M water filter.

2. Educational talk on  “say no to bottled water & plastic waste reduction ” (45-60 minutes)

3. Two workshops (maximum 30 students per workshop which will last for 60- 90 minutes)

Workshop A: waste audit on campus to encourage students to explore way to achieve further waste reduction

Workshop B: Upcycling – turn waste cloth into bags for students’ own set of reusable cutlery. 

Water For Free is a project of Go Green Hong Kong, which is registered as a non-profit organization under the Societies Ordinance (Cap 151, Laws of Hong Kong) and being a charitable institution is exempt from tax under Section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap 112, Laws of Hong Kong).

We look forward to hearing from you.

contact@waterforfree.org

Unravelling the Secrets of Pesticides

Pesticide spray

There is no doubt that the biggest challenges of any farmer are weeds competing with crops for space, light and nutrients, and insects engulfing harvests like wildfire. Effective pesticides (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) are therefore miraculous inventions in the eyes of many farmers. They dramatically lower costs by saving time and energy, and most importantly, enable farmers to avoid numerous problems. Humans are known to be visual animals i.e. we have faith in what we see. However, many problems resulting from the use of chemical pesticides remain hidden from sight.

A “Nerve-Wrecking” History

What makes a pesticide “visibly” effective? It must be highly toxic and lethal to many different types of pest. Ideally, we need a shotgun that gives pests little chance to survive. First, let’s focus on insect pests, the eternal enemy of every farmer. There are countless ways to kill insects, however not all produce the same visual results. In order to see visible results, scientists figured out that the best way is to attack an insect’s nervous system instantly incapacitate them. This is how organophosphate pesticides were born.

These chemicals work by inhibiting the neuromuscular enzyme acetylcholinesterase which causes the overstimulation of nerves and their subsequent exhaustion. They are also very potent in the sense that they can be absorbed through all surfaces on an insect body – there is little chance to escape unharmed. However, little did farmers know that these “magical” chemicals were evolved (or co-evolved) from some of the most deadly chemical weapons i.e. nerve agents used in wars and genocides. Interestingly, mammals including humans use the same acetylcholinesterase enzyme in our nervous system. Therefore, organophosphates can also kill humans in a similar manner.

For instance, the infamous and highly toxic VX agent  used in Angolan Civil War and several other murders (including the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Un’s half brother) is analogous to the pesticide Malathion structurally and chemically (figure 1). At low dosages and repeated exposure, organophosphates can cause a variety of cognitive deficits such as impaired short-term memory, information processing capability and shortened attention span and other symptoms such as blurred and dim vision, headache, numbness or tingling, insomnia, difficulty walking, and even abnormal heartbeats.  At high dosage, it will result in a painful convulsion and paralysis followed by death.

On the plus side, organophosphates are generally biodegradable and do not persist long enough to affect a wider spectrum of organisms. However, organophosphate are just a tip of an iceberg. Many “careless” agrochemists have developed less biodegradable nerve-agents pesticides such as organochlorides (including the infamous DDT). This has caused a series of misfortunes because they are relatively longer lasting and their lipophilic nature even allows significant bioaccumulation which affects a wide arrays of non-target organisms including humans. Despite widespread bans in most developed countries, the use of organochlorine pesticides has continued to rise especially in the developing countries.

Zero Chance to Live

Being visually effective and “actually” effective in killing a target pest populations are in fact two distinctly different concepts which most people, including farmers have a hard time realizing. In the case of tiny insect pest, farmers generally feel satisfied when they witness little insect activity. Therefore, a lot of farmers will over-spray insecticides – the majority (> 99%) of the pesticides will be taken up by non-target organisms. This temporarily leaves little chance of survival for the target pest population, but the pest’s natural competitors and predators face the exact same fate. In addition, the surviving pest population will eventually evolve resistance to the chemicals. This ultimately results in a more serious pest infestation during the subsequent growth cycles of the target pest. More and more toxic pesticides need to be applied at greater frequency to curb the increasingly uncontrollable infestations.

Weeds  

Weeds cause arguably more damage than all other pests, such as insects, combined. Curbing weeds is no easy task however. Since weeds in an actual field usually comprise of a mixture of different plant species, you often need a broad-spectrum (or a mixture of) herbicides to really get things under control. What this means is that the timing and location of herbicide application needs to be extremely careful in order to avoid destroying your own crop. In the case of using a selective weed killer, it often ends up that another more resistant weed will just take over.

An ingenious solution to these issues completely overturned the past practices. With the advent of gene-editing technology, scientists have introduced genes into crops (e.g. soybeans, corns, cottons) that confers resistance to broad-spectrum herbicides like glyphosate (the most widely used herbicide ever). In this way, all the hassles are eliminated since the timing, location, application method become irrelevant. All you need is to spray whenever something other than your engineered monocrop rises above the ground. Again, the scenario is the same as with insects, everything is wiped clean.

As good as it seems to be, a farm managed in this way leaves a serious impact on the ecosystem. Host plants of beneficial insect and barriers to plant disease are destroyed. It has also been reported that glyphosate and its metabolic product are found in most environmental samples in the US (soil, water, sediment) as well as in food in both the UK and US, with concentrations that are shown in animal models to cause significant hepatorenal damage and potentially other health defects including cancer and reproductive development impairment. Glyphosate is also widely used in Hong Kong and China. There is a dichotomy between a short-term visual result, and the actual long-term costs. Only one party that is clearly winning all the time, you can probably guess who that is.

A “Schrödinger’s”Future

Okay, you probably get how scary pesticides can be, but they still serve the function of killing pest which is pivotal to feeding the planet, right?  While making a truly justified value judgement is not in the realm of science, I am here to present you facts to reduce the information asymmetry.

Over the 40 years span from the early 1960s to the 2000s, global food production has doubled and land use in agriculture has increased by around 10%. However, pesticide use in the same span has increased by more than 15-fold. This means on roughly the same size of land, we applied at least 15 times more pesticide to secure a 2-fold increase in food production made possible also by other factors such as the much higher use of nitrogen fertilizer (almost 7-fold increase), increased irrigation (1.7-fold) and improved crop genetics. Another shocking fact is that crop damage attributable to pest have slightly increased compared to 50 years ago despite pesticide use skyrocketing. This suggests that our crops are increasingly susceptible to pest attack and requires more pesticide input per unit due to our poor agro-ecosystem resilience management.

It is indeed not easy to measure and quantify the actual damage that pesticides do to our environment and ecosystems, let alone making a fair comparison to the benefits (crop protection) they give us. While one can argue that saving even just one starving life could worth all the damage, it is important to realize that people at present and people in the future are in conflict to some extent, mediated by slow ecosystem processes. Not many would disagree that a progressive and healthy society should look to benefit not just present, but future generations. Therefore, it is important not to allow the act of saving life today to become nothing more than an excuse to maintain the status quo.

Yes, pesticides can be very useful. But this is only true if you have full knowledge and control of it. That is, no unnecessary over-spraying and non-target killing. However, attaining this complete understanding and control could be even more costly than other labor-intensive but target-focused organic methods of pest management. This is why most farmers have no choice but to spray indiscriminately. Again, you know it, who get the last laugh?

 


 

Figure 1. On the left is insecticide Malathion while on the right is the highly toxic VX agent (figure adapted from PubChem). Note that organophosphates act by phosphorylating acetylcholinesterase (i.e. the phosphate group is the main reactive site). Also, insecticides in general are bulkier and more complex structurally in order to reduce the toxicity (by slowing down reaction and making reaction intermediate less stable) and increase its specificity to target organism while nerve agents are designed to kill as quick as it can so there is no consideration of making them less lethal. (check this article for more detailed chemistry of organophosphates and acetylcholinesterase reaction)


 

**Article written by Mr. Chun Chung Yeung. Chun Chung is a former intern at Wildroots Organic. He is currently pursuing a masters degree at McGill University with research focus on greenhouse gas emission from organic farmland. He earned his BSc of Environmental Science with first honours at HKUST. He believes that in order for us to love and respect Mother Nature, we need to first try our best to understand her. Therefore, he is deeply passionate about public education**

 

Why does Muji package its organic underwear in plastic?

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I usually buy clothing from second-hand clothing stores.  However, for underwear and socks I can only buy new ones.  For years I have been looking for organic cotton underwear.  Why cotton?  Because cotton underwear is breathable, which helps to reduce bacterial vaginal infection. Why organic? Today 25% of the insecticide used worldwide is applied to conventionally grown cotton, even though cotton fields occupy less than 3% of the world’s farmland. Many of these agro-chemicals are similar to the nerve agents and bio-inhibitors used in chemical warfare during WWI, so it’s no surprise the higher rates of birth defects and cancer have been found in both humans and wildlife surrounding cotton fields.

In the past, I bought organic cotton underwear made in Taiwan, but their cutting and colour reminded me of granny’s panties. I also tried to buy online from PACT. I like their cutting and pattern. But for international order I need to buy at least USD 100 worth of underwear, and pay another USD 10 for postage. Not long ago I walked in Muji and discovered that it had start to sell organic cotton underwear.  Great! I wanted to buy some. But then my attention was drawn to that heavy-duty plastic it was packaged in. I don’t understand why does Muji needs to package underwear while it’s t-shirts, pants and socks hang freely on the rack. Is it because underwear is intimate to one’s body? So what?  Anyone with common sense knows to wash newly purchased clothing before wearing. No normal human being would put on the underwear without washing just because it’s pre-packaged in a plastic bag.

The display board on top of the rack shows a photo of a cotton field with the following:

“Made of cotton grown on fields without any use of pesticide or chemical fertilizer for at least 3 years…brings comfort to consumers, at the same time care about the living environment of the growers…”

For such a widely popular brand to start selling organic cotton clothing is really a very good sign. Reminding consumers to care about the natural environment also worthy of praise.  We urge Muji to go just one step further.  Get rid of the unnecessary plastic packaging.

…And the microbeads facial scrub too.

Greenwash Stunt Flops – A PR Case Study

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To catch the “Green is the New Black” trend, Dove Hong Kong issued post on Facebook 2 weeks ago to kick-off it’s “Re/Up Cycle Game”.  In large font, it read “step 123 saving planet earth” and “Let’s recycle and reuse”, and below that in small font “plastic containers of all personal care products sold by Unilever Hong Kong are recyclable.”  Saving planet earth??! That’s audacious, even by the hyperbole of advertising. The poster reminds consumers to put the Dove body wash bottles into recycling bins after removing and discarding the pump (because the pump is not recyclable).  It also invites consumers to come up with innovative ideas to upcycle Dove plastic containers. The top 3 most innovative ideas may win HKD 1000 Watson’s coupon (“may”, not “will”) and 30 other participants will each receive a set of re-usable stainless steel straws. The prizes are to encourage “everyone” (apparently excluding Unilever itself) to contribute to environmental protection.

Their PR or advertising execs came up with this low-budget ploy to free-ride on concern for the environment probably thought they were pretty smart. Unfortunately this PR stunt flopped miserably. Only a handful of participants came up with ideas, such as cutting off the top to turn it into a pencil or laundry clips holder. Hundreds of others instead left comments requesting Dove provide consumers with refill packs.  Here are some examples:

“If Dove is sincere, it should be the one to be innovative.  Dove should not push the burden onto consumers and recyclers to deal with its plastic bottles. It should start selling re-fill packs, or to collect its own bottles for reuse.”

“If Dove truly cares about the environment it should take back its own bottles, wash and then re-use them…how about setting up self-help store to refill liquid soap with your own bottle? ”

I was asked why are there so few personal care brands sell refill packs in Hong Kong?  My guess? Like all things it boils down to money. The production line was set up to churn out and pack the liquid into bottles. To produce refill packs, significant reconfiguration and investment in machinery would be required. Packing and transporting them would also require reconfiguring processes. It would also require a change in consumer habits, consumers would need to take the extra step of refilling their own bottle.

Finally, there is the question of pricing, consumers would likely demand a lower price for refill pack, cutting into revenue and margins. Manufacturers know all too well that their plastic bottles and pump heads are very durable. That means for consumers that switch to buying refill packs, it would mean a loss of revenue. Therefore while some brands pay lip service to environmental protection, almost all major brands refrain from providing refill packs. It would require retooling factories, and lower revenue, with little in the way of financial upside. So business as usual continues.

However, Unilever Hong Kong may be able to learn a lesson from this PR flop. It demonstrated consumer awareness of environmental issues, and a demand for solutions. A major brand that could meet this consumer demand for refill packs may be able to seize market share from competitors and maintain customer loyalty, thereby increasing revenue and lowering marketing and advertising costs. In a rapidly changing business environment, corporations will innovate or be disrupted.

Say No to Disposable Coffee Cups

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A short while ago, I was interviewed by a reporter about Water for Free and environmental protection in general.  She suggested we meet at Interval Coffee Bar on Wellington Street. Upon arrival, I noticed that all the sit-in patrons were drinking coffee from paper cups. I then turned my attention to the counter and realised there weren’t any ceramic cup there. When the reporter showed up, I requested we change the venue.  Of course she understood my reasoning – an interview about environmentalism cannot take place at a coffee shop which only serves drinks in disposable cups. In order to let the shop owner know the reason for our departure, I specifically asked the barista if he could serve coffee in ceramic cups, to which he apologetically replied no. We walked out of Interval Coffee, walked down a flight of stairs and arrived at Holly Brown Coffee, where they serve coffee in ceramic cups.

I refuse to drink coffee served in disposable cups for a couple of reasons.  In addition to the obvious environmental reason that disposable paper cups cannot be recycled here in Hong Kong, there is a less obvious reason – paper cups have a distinct smell that affects the enjoyment of it. It might even be marginally acceptable to serve instant coffee in paper cups because no one cares about the taste and smell of it – it is just a form of caffeine. But when we are talking about gourmet coffee which emphasises the origin of the beans, how they are roasted, the skill of the barista and even the quality of the water, how can we justify serving it in paper cups, especially after all the fuss about aroma, flavor and taste? Imagine if wine were served in paper cups.

On another occasion I went to a coffee shop in Quarry Bay for a quick meal and a coffee. Since I saw the Go Cup (a campaign which encourages people to bring their own reusable cups for coffee/drinks)  sticker, I asked the barista about its popularity. He thought carefully for a while and then said: “some days there are 8-10 customers who BYOB, some days there are none. On average there are several customers who BYOB everyday.” I then asked “what is the percentage of people who BYOB versus those who don’t?”  He worked out the math and told me it was around 2%.

It’s of no use talking about environmental concerns with those who care primarily about convenience, and the status and importance that proudly carrying a Starbucks coffee conveys while walking around Central. For example, when I used to work there, a lawyer in an adjacent office whom I would occasionally bump into would always answer “busy! I’m going to get my third cup of coffee for the day” whenever he was asked “how are you doing?”

At the world barista championships, the coffee is served in ceramic cups or glasses for tasting. The paper cups are used for the judges to spit into after tasting. It seems those that really appreciate coffee will use ceramic cups. Only when drinking coffee from disposable cups is universally recognised as a sign of poor taste, like drinking wine from disposable cups, will we be able to curb the blight of these disposable cups.

 

 

Urban Farming Redefined: 100% Upcycled

 

 

Gardening or urban farming brings elements of sustainability, community, and nature education to the city and into our lives. It creates an environment for people from all walks of life to share the knowledge, skill and joy of growing their own organic produce.

At Wildroots Organic, we’ve had great results growing on rooftop farms throughout the city, and teaching urban farming courses at universities such as HKU and PolyU. There have been however a couple of aspects that have been less than satisfactory. First, almost all rooftop farms in Hong Kong are set up using newly manufactured plastic planters that will eventually end up in the landfill and polluting our environment. Second, these black plastics planters are somewhat of an eyesore, especially when compared to many urban farms and gardens we find abroad that are constructed of more natural material.

A city is place of consumption, with goods transported in but none transported out. That leaves an incredible amount of material such as pallets, crates and containers that need to be sent to the landfill. For example, over 600 pallets are sent to landfill each day. When we were selected by PolyU to build a new urban farm on campus, we set out to create a showcase for sustainability by using 100% upcycled and re-used materials.

We started by first by creating a platform made of plastic pallets to raise our planters off the cement floor in order to the reduce the heat absorbed and to create a more comfortable height for working.

Instead of buying new plastic planters, high quality crates were upcycled into planters. They were filled with soil from a local organic farm amended with locally produced compost. Most urban farms use unsustainable peat-based growing mediums or “soil”. Often marketed as “organic soil” or “black soil”, they are extracted from fragile ecosystems in Europe.

Over several weeks, wooden pallets were collected from garbage dumps and disassembled. The wood was then used to build a wood cladding to create a natural feeling surrounding, and help to reduce heat absorbed by planters and soil (high soil temperatures can negatively affect plant growth). Even the screws used to assemble the wood were collected and sorted from construction site waste. Finally, we coated the wood with a natural wood preservative that comes in re-used beer bottles.

The last step was the most satisfying, teaching both students and staff to grow their own seasonal organic herbs such as mint, parsley, basil, shiso and vegetables such as eggplant, chili and amaranth.

To learn more about Urban Farming:

Urban Farming in Hong Kong on CNN

Urban Rooftop Organic Farming: All-Win Solution for Hong Kong

Rooftop Farming

Water Dispensers: an Alternative to Bottled Water

 

At Water for Free, we have given many school talks to educate students about plastic waste pollution. But giving talks is not enough, we need to foster behavioural change. Although most schools have water dispensers, with filters that are replaced regularly, the dispensers always look old and unappealing.  In contrast, a few meters from these dispensers there are always a couple of colourful, attractive vending machines with soft drinks, water and juices displayed in nicely lit-up panels. Our conclusion was, we needed better looking and functioning water dispensers to level the playing field.

Thanks to a small donation from LUSH, we were able to prove this hypothesis by installing dispensers – that provide both warm and cold water – at a few primary schools. Pat Heung Central Primary School was one of them. We also gave educational talks to their primary 4, 5 and 6 classes. This particularly enlightened school already banned bottled water sales on campus. Notwithstanding the ban, when asked how many of them have consumed bottled water in the past week, more than one third of the students raised up their hands. It is no wonder Hong Kongers “produce” 6 million+ PET beverage bottles per day that are destined for the landfills.

When we showed the students photos of turtles eating plastic bags, and the carcasses of sea birds with their stomaches full of plastic and explained that in fact microplastic has already entered our food chain, a student gave the following ‘smart cookie’ response: “I don’t eat seafood. I only eat vegetables. Hence it’s no problem for me!”  We explain to her that she’s not immune to plastic pollution because recent studies have shown that microplastic has started to contaminate our salt and tap and bottled water (with bottled water actually containing more plastic).

Everyone was touched when we showed them part of the documentary film “Plastic China” which features a girl of their age living a life atop piles of plastic waste. At the end of our talk, we asked them what can they do to help. Many raised their hands and said “say no to bottled water”. Since over 90% of them have mobile phones, we also invited them to download Water for Free mobile app and help to add new locations to our map.

When we saw them lining up with great excitement at our newly installed water dispenser to refill their water bottles during recess, we concluded there are solutions to plastic waste pollution. The key is to not only education but enabling behavioural change by providing an attractive alternative to bottled water – thereby addressing a key shortcoming our current system. If your school or community centre is interested in our programs, please contact us at waterforfreehk@gmail.com.

Plastic’Apolcalypse

On boxing day, I went to PMQ to watch the excellent but heartbreaking documentary film “Plastic China“.  The film depicts a village in Shan Dong province which has numerous primitive plastic recycling plants processing plastic waste imported from all over the world.  The protogonists are the owner of one of these tiny factories, his employee (minority migrant worker from far away Sichuan province) and their families.  The migrant worker cannot afford to send his children to school, so they hang out on the piles of filthy plastic waste all day, go to scoop dead fish from a super polluted stream, and roast them on a fire fueled by burning plastic. The owner’s son can go to school, however the owner himself has sacrificed his health by operating the open “flame cooker” that turns the waste into plastic granules.  He feels a lump on his lower back but he dares not to go for a medical checkup for fear of what he will find.  In fact both the employer and the employee live in hell like situation.  It is said that the release of this film and the ensuing loss of face, caused the Chinese government to severely restrict the importation of plastic waste beginning in 2018.  From now on, only recycled plastic that has been turned into granular form can be imported into China. 

One day after I watched the film, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) released the report Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong 2016 at 6 p.m. in the evening.  It turns out that the daily disposal of PET (drink) bottles at landfills in Hong Kong has increased from 136 to 158 tonnes when compared to the 2015 figure – a stunning 16% increase in one year. At this rate the amount of PET plastic entering our landfills will double in just over 4 years. No wonder the EPD chose to release the report quietly by close of business right after the Christmas holiday.  With the above mentioned China restriction coming into effect, it is expected that the disposal of PET bottles at landfills will shoot up even further.  

One day after the EPD released this report, the Guardian, in its article entitle “$180bn investment in plastic factories feeds global packaging binge” reported that:

“Fossil fuel companies are among those who have ploughed more than $180bn since 2010 into new “cracking” facilities that will produce the raw material for everyday plastics from packaging to bottles, trays and cartons. The new facilities – being built by corporations like Exxon Mobile Chemical and Shell Chemical – will help fuel a 40% rise in plastic production in the next decade…”

This reminds me of the so-called environmental friendly marketing campaign initiated by Shell Hong Kong a month or two ago which encouraged the public to use reusable cutlery/ lunch boxes/ water bottles.  While globally Shell is investing billions of US dollars to produce more plastic at a cheaper price, locally it is spending merely  millions of HK dollars to buy “green groups” and launch this greenwash campaign.  The level of hypocrisy and ridiculousness involved makes you unsure whether you should cry or laugh.

The EPD has commissioned a 18 months consultancy study on a  plastic bottles manufacturers’ responsibility policy and has said that it may adopt the bottle deposit scheme.  To ensure that government policy does not adversely affect their business interests, the beverage industry has also reacted by forming a working group (a thinly veiled lobbying group) called “Drink Without Waste” with leading retailers (e.g. Dairy Farm – the operator of 7-11, Ikea, Wellcome, etc) and a few business-friendly green groups, and hiring Deloitte to conduct a 6 months study.  In view of the grim situation for plastic waste and the bright prospects for plastic production, I opine that plastic bottles manufacturers’ responsibility means that they have to bear the full cost of collecting and recycling each and every bottle that they have manufactured.  The government has to impose a tax on virgin plastic to the extent that it will cost marginally more than recycled plastic.  This will drive demand up for recycled plastic, ensuring that every bottle is collected before it pollutes our oceans and lands for generations to come. Other methods will incur high administrative costs, encourage gaming of the system to shift the burden from producers to taxpayers, and result in inefficiencies. In a free market economy, the best and most proven solution (think cigarettes) is to tax this cancer to the planet.

 

Say No to Shark Fin Soup Loud and Clear

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I found the signing petition initiated by the WildAid on the website supporthk.org demanding Maxim, the biggest Chinese restaurant group in Hong Kong, to stop selling shark’s fin soup a little depressing.  7 years have passed since I took part in the campaign which successfully forced Citi Bank to drop its credit card promotion for card holders to enjoy shark’s fin meal at Maxim at a discounted price.  Since then, multiple green groups have tried but yet failed to force Maxim to stop serving shark’s fin soup.

Since I stop eating shark’s fin soup almost a decade ago, whenever I receive an invitation to a banquet, I always ask if there will be shark’s fin soup served.  On one occasion, I attended a banquet because the host promised me that they would make an alternative arrangement for me. However, when the stark’s fin soup was served (a large bowl of soup which was then served in 10-12 little bowls), my bowl was still there spinning around on the Lazy Susan while the waiting staff offered me a bowl of seafood soup.  After that I became very determined – if the host’s answer is “yes there will be shark’s fin soup”, I would say thank you for the kind invitation but I cannot attend.  In addition, I won’t offer the “red pocket” of any amount (i.e. cash gift which guests have to give when attending a banquet. A cash gift is also expected from those who cannot make it to the banquet, albeit a smaller amount would be considered acceptable.)

A short while ago one of my cousins got married.  She told me in advance that there would be no shark’s fin soup served, and there would be announcement about protecting sharks at the banquet.  Typhoon no. 8 hit Hong Kong on her wedding day and hence all buses and mini-vans stopped service during the whole day.  I walked in a heavy rainstorm for over 20 minutes in order to get to the train station.  While I walking in my soaking wet shoes, I thought seriously of turning around and going home.  But bearing in mind my cousin’s commitment to protect the marine eco-system I had to show up.  When the announcement of Say No to Shark’s Fin Soup was made it was followed by silence, until I started clapping and then others slowly followed.

Recently there was a media report about the on-going price for cash gift (see below).  Guests attending wedding banquet held at an ordinary Chinese restaurant are supposed to present a HKD 800 cash gift.  If the banquet is held at a 5 stars hotel, then HKD 1200 is expected.  The cartoons next to the report describes the thinking of the guest while presenting the cash gift: the cartoon cloud conversation says “why did you a pick hotel…?” (so I have to pay HKD 400 more).  Since Hong Kongers are generally tired of this ritual of Chinese banquet, I am suggesting to all of you who care about the marine ecosystem to Say No to Shark’s Fin Soup in a loud and clear way: stop going to banquet which serves shark’s fin soup, and do not present cash gift for such invitation.

Please also sign the petition initiated by Wild Aid.

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