According to Apple Daily, 6 Cathay cabin crew members face disciplinary action and possible termination for taking food that was destined for the landfill at the end of a flight from Korea to HK. During a spot inspection, the crew members were found to have croissants, bottled water, milk, yogurt and lemons in their luggage. In order to protect its in-flight property, Cathay had recently … Continue reading Cathay Crew Face Disciplinary Action For Taking Food Destined for Landfill
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 … Continue reading Water for Free coming to Southern District
Shell Gas Stations install water dispensers WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? Since the cost of collecting, transporting and recycling the used plastic bottles is higher that what the recycled material is worth, 96% of the used plastic bottles in Hong Kong go straight to the landfill. To have sufficient number of water fountains around town can greatly reduce our reliance on (or even addiction to) bottled … Continue reading Water for Free – signing petition
A day before the Earth Day, a friend posted the photos above on Facebook with the following message “Don’t tell me using disposables has nothing to do with climate change. For a room full of scientists, engineers, policy makers, researchers and people otherwise dedicating their waking hours to addressing this issue, I don’t understand how one can eat, drink and socialize without confronting this harrowing … Continue reading Individual Action Leads to Change
Most hotels provide bars of soap to guests, but rarely will these bar soap be used up by the time the guests check out. I always find it extremely wasteful for hotels to throw away these otherwise still usable bars of soap, and that is why I always bring them home and continue to use them. Yet I understand 99% of the population will not … Continue reading Soap Cycling
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 … Continue reading HKU Takes the Lead to Ban Bottled Water
On Legco Election Day last September, I travelled from Fanling to Yuen Long to help with campaigning. Before that I was having lunch at a McDonald’s and started chatting with an auntie named Ching sharing the table with me. Auntie Ching and I exchanged phone numbers and thereafter she sent me Whatsapp messages once every few weeks asking me when I will be back to … Continue reading Waste-No-Mall
“….A large centrepiece comprising plastic flotsam collected from the beach cleaning operations in the North Sea, Hawaii, the Baltic Sea and the rest of the world is displayed with the aim of arousing public awareness of plastic waste. …..Through the exhibition, visitors can gain an in-depth understanding of the chemical composition, classification and recycling processes of different plastic materials, and also learn about the harmful … Continue reading Is the Science Museum Out to Sea?
As an Urban Farming and Horticulture instructor in space deprived Hong Kong, I’m often asked about using the much hated bay windows common in many Hong Kong apartments for growing vegetables. The main considerations growing edible plants indoors are limited space, light and airflow. I set out to design a highly functional indoor growing system that would not only address these issues, but also be sustainably built and have a minimalist aesthetic.
The key factor limiting the growth of edible plants indoors is lack of sunlight. Artificial light, while very helpful, creates two issues of its own. First, it consumes electricity, thereby reducing some of the environmental benefits of growing your own vegetables. Second, they must be placed at the correct distance from the plants to be effective (in addition, the correct colour bulb must also be used).
After 18 months of research and tinkering, I came up with the idea of inverting the usual relationship between the artificial light and the plants. Instead of placing the lights over the plants, I surrounded the light with plants. Light from a bulb shines in all directions. By surrounding the bulb with plants I was able to capture and make use of a much higher percentage of the light emitted by the bulb. This maximises the number of plants that can be grown, while at the same time ensuring that the plants are at an optimal distance from the bulb.
An additional benefit of this design is that the light emitted from the bulb can help our plants grow and at the same time light up our home or office. The leaves of the plant in effect act as a living lamp shade. Continue reading “Grow Your Own Greens”
SUSTAINABILITY FACTS ABOUT HONG KONG
- Our reservoirs have a capacity of 120-150 cubic meters of water per person per year. The UN considers regions with less than 500 cubic meters per person to be water stressed.
- Our electricity comes primarily from unsustainable coal, natural gas and nuclear power. Converting to renewable energy is a process that will take many decades, requiring more time than we have if we hope to avoid catastrophic climate change.
- Our landfills will be full by 2017. 40% of the garbage going to our landfill is food waste.
- Over 95% of our food is imported, the majority coming from the mainland. 70% of mainland surface water is polluted. The area of land contaminated by heavy metals has been classified a state secret.
On the one hand we may feel overwhelmed by these facts, and the state of gridlock in Hong Kong’s political system may cause us to just throw up our hands. On the other hand, can we rely on bureaucratic governments, quarterly profit-driven corporations or ineffective NGO’s to solve these issues? Instead, can citizens band together to work on local, small scale solutions that may bring about the seeds of change?
Permaculture courses create a forum for specialists and non-specialists alike to discuss, design and most importantly build small scale solutions to ecological problems. Unlike traditional education, it is active, field-based and hands on. Working together in teams guided by an instructor, participants learn about ecology and design solutions that are modelled on natural systems and based on the following core principles:
- Care of the earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. This is the first principle, because without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.
- Care of the people: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
- Return of Surplus: Reinvesting surpluses back into the system to provide for the first two ethics. This includes returning waste back into the system to recycle into usefulness.
The government’s solution to our water deficit is to import water from the mainland. As economic growth on the mainland drives ever increasing demand for water, we will face greater competition for this water. The permaculture solution is to instead apply the ancient technique of rainwater harvesting. During the rainy season, water is collected and stored in tanks to be used when water is scarce. This gravity-fed system not only reduces the need for imported water but also reduces electricity consumption (4% of total electricity consumption globally is used to pump and treat water).
To address our energy and climate change issues, environmentalists promote converting to renewable energy. However, due to factors such as the high water vapour content and pollution in the air, the efficiency of solar panels in Hong Kong is quite low. With limited land, wind farms would need to be located in the ocean, an extremely expensive proposition.
Permaculture instead advocates energy conservation by designing and retrofitting buildings with passive cooling. Continue reading “Permaculture”