In early May, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC) announced that from June 8th 2016 onwards, it will no longer sell beverages in single-use plastic bottles nor provide members with plastic bags or straws. According to its Facebook’s post, the Club’s Rear Commodore Sailing, Anthony Day said, “Reducing the amount of waste being dumped into our oceans is one of the challenges of our … Continue reading Real Environmental Leadership
NOTE This open letter is re-published with permission from the environmental action group Grebbish. —————————- Let your action match your words! Potato@結束一桶專棄 I am a university student participating in a competition called ‘Glocal Greenovation’. The competition is a corporate social responsibility event hosted by Sasa and VolTra, and it is supported by twenty-five organisations and companies, including the Environment Bureau, and Google. The competition was … Continue reading A Students Open Letter
A few months ago, I had a chat with Ms. Ann Kildahl of the HKU Sustainability Office about the water dispensers in the HKU campus. Ann told me that based on the number of staff and students, there should be more water dispensers installed in HKU campus. And thanks to her effort and that of other good folks at HKU…here they are! Three new water … Continue reading New Water Dispensers in HKU
The climate is definitely changing – the Hong Kong Observatory issued its first ever amber rainstorm warning in January. If you are bringing an umbrella with some dripping water indoors – what would you do? In the 1980s, most restaurants had an umbrella rack with individual locks placed near the entrance. As a child, I always wanted to try it out, but my parents always … Continue reading Plastic Disaster on Rainy Days
Urban farming on rooftops has been gaining traction in cities around the world. Its rise can originally be traced to consumers increasing awareness of carbon emissions that result when our food travels hundreds, if not thousands of miles from the farm to our table. As an experienced urban farmer that grows on the rooftops of commercial buildings such as the Bank of America Tower, and … Continue reading Rooftop Farming
While strolling through a Wellcome supermarket one evening, I saw the staff removing 30 or so packs of unsold meat from the fridge, and putting them in a black plastic garbage bag. I asked whether it was going to be thrown away as trash. The friendly worker nonchalantly replied “yes”, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
These packs of unsold meat, sitting in foam trays and enclosed in plastic wrap, will be sent to the nearby landfill. There, they will decompose anaerobically, emitting a horrendous stench and methane, a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more powerful than CO2.
In 2012, research by Friends of the Earth (FoE) revealed that Hong Kong’s supermarket chains were throwing away tons of food everyday. FoE estimated that the big four supermarket chains: ParkNshop, Wellcome, China Resource and Jusco (now renamed Aeon) combined were sending 87 tonnes of food to the landfill each day. According to FoE, “In a year, the food they throw away is equivalent to the weight of two thousand double decker buses.” Of that amount, one third is bread, vegetables, fruits and even sushi that is still edible. Two thirds consists of peel and expired food which they classified as non-edible (However, as John Oliver explains in this hilarious segment, the expiration dates set are quite arbitrary and most food is still edible well past the expiration date). Continue reading “Meat Free Landfills”
With stunning speed, Hong Kong has transitioned from a manufacturing hub into a post-industrial service-based economy. Few things are now made here, most are imported from around the globe or the bustling behemoth an hour away. This consumer based economy produces massive amounts of trash that remains out-of-sight and out-of-mind unless you happen to stumble across the shrunken grandmas collecting cardboard and beer cans at midnight.
The drive to sell luxury goods and live the “good life” has blinded Hong Kong to the environmental impact of endless consumption. Hong Kongers produce 6.5 million tonnes of trash every year, more per-capita than any other developed society. 65% of it is dumped into three landfills. This is cheap, commands minimal effort or attention from the public, and requires little infrastructure investment. However, land doesn’t come cheap on the fragrant harbor, and it’s difficult to build on top of or near landfills, which contaminate soil and groundwater, and release greenhouse gases (not to mention a terrible stench). The landfills are near full capacity, and unsurprisingly the public is lukewarm about expanding or creating new ones. New solutions are needed, but what are some of the options? Continue reading “Addicted to Trash”