Green-living lawyer with a brief to save the planet

She hasn’t bought a new outfit for 18 months and sets an example by wearing wardrobe cast-offs

Intellectual-property lawyer Rachel Pang Hoi-yan has not bought a new outfit for a year and a half.But that does not mean she lacks new clothes for work or casual activities. On the contrary, near-new fashion and accessories keep coming in.Pang has become the fashion equivalent of an animal-rescue agency, taking in abandoned wardrobe items – of which the owners have tired. But unlike some businesses that trade in second-hand brand-name accessories, her service is free.”This black pullover I am wearing is an abandoned one, and so is this handbag,” said the green-living enthusiast. “This is the first time I have had a made-in-France handbag. There is no way to tell it is second-hand.”Her new role began with a message she put on MSN asking for second-hand clothes.

“My friends reacted strongly, asking if I was serious about it,” she said. “I told them I was. Several weeks later, a friend’s friend gave me a suitcase of clothes, including the suitcase. All close to brand-new.”

The lawyer has no idea how many abandoned clothes have reached her, how many she has given out or how many she still has. She started advertising the clothes on Facebook several months ago but has since moved the adverts to her blog that promotes low-carbon living.

Pang and her husband have practised green living in recent years, renting 7,000 sq ft of land where they farm organically. Their food is usually plant-based because growing vegetables consumes far less energy than producing meat.

She also furnishes her home with previously owned furniture and electrical appliances supplied by people who do not need them.

“It is easy to tell people to protect the environment but it is difficult when it comes to practice,” Pang said. “If we are serious about protecting the environment and making it the philosophy of our life, it will have a profound impact on every aspect of our lives.” That’s why, she says, there are people who still refuse to acknowledge climate change.

Pang thinks Hong Kong is designed to encourage consumption, leading to a wasteful lifestyle.

“In Hong Kong, shopping is an entertainment. We wander in malls every weekend, so we keep consuming. Fashionable clothes are getting cheaper and cheaper, and new designs rolled out quickly. Our way of living is unsustainable.”

Since the first suitcase of unused clothes reached her, her friends and friends’ friends have kept giving her outfits and accessories they want to throw away. But they have also started looking to her stocks instead of going shopping.

“I think I am doing a public good. My husband worries I will encourage consumption. But I think I can make everyone reflect on consumption. Shopaholics will shop anyway. But for the rest, I am sure they will think twice before buying.”

chloe.lai@scmp.com