The University of Hong Kong（HKU）has taken the lead to become the first university in Hong Kong to ban bottled water on campus. Ditch Disposable is a campus-wide campaign led by the HKU Sustainability Office to reduce plastic waste by targeting single-use plastic water bottles and other disposable containers across campus. It starts with an initiative to eliminate single-use plastic water bottles of 1 litre or less at University events, restaurants, retail outlets and vending machines. Sales of water bottles of 1 litre or less will cease from July 1st 2017. Faculties, departments, caterers and student groups have pledged to Ditch Disposable and Choose Reusable and be early champions. In order to ensure compliance with their Ditch Disposable commitment, the HKU Sustainability Office has also prepared a toolkit which provides support and guidance to staff members responsible for purchasing goods and event management sustainably.
In order to allow students and staff members to witness the harm caused by plastic waste to the environment, the HKU Sustainability Office and Water for Free co-organized a beach cleanup at Lap Sap Bay on March 18th 2017. In less than 1.5 hours, the 20 plus participants picked up more than 3000 plastic beverage bottles, over half of which were water bottles. The most special item being picked up (in the photo above) was Watson’s water bottle with a best before date of March 15th 1997. It serves as a stark reminder of the fact that these plastic bottles we threw away are actually here to stay.
After the beach cleanup, we went to the nearby Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS) of HKU for debriefing. Researcher on microbeads explained how plastic waste has adversely affected the marine ecosystem and confirmed to us that plastic has indeed entered our food chain. The director of SWIMS, while giving us a brief introduction of the history and research works of SWIMS, mentioned the regrettable news that their research works have been seriously disturbed by the recent influx of tourists. May I take this opportunity to urge those who are interested to visit the shores of Hong Kong’s only Marine Reserve to stay away? Let’s go to Lap Sap Bay to pick up some plastic bottles instead.