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 … Continue reading Greenwash Stunt Flops – A PR Case Study
PRICE HKD 20 per pack (10 rolls) WHERE TO BUY Salvation Army Family Store (Only certain branches have them in stock, please call and check before you go shopping) PRODUCT RATING Great value for the money. FSC Mix label, ISO 9001, ISO14001 GREEN RATING Quite Green. While most of the toilet paper brands available for sale at supermarkets in Hong Kong still proudly annouce that they … Continue reading Bamboo Tissue Toilet Paper
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
Three and a half years ago there was a plastic disaster in Hong Kong. During a typhoon, 6 shipping containers of plastic pellets were blown off a container ship into the ocean. Dissatisfied with the government’s inaction, thousands of Hong Kong citizens took up the task of cleaning up the plastic pellets that washed up on the beaches. In addition to accidents, the simple act … Continue reading Plastic Microbeads in Scrubs
PRODUCT Coconut Oil
PRODUCT RATING Good. It doesn’t have the creamy texture that we have become accustomed to in conventional moisturizers, but it’s not greasy like baby oil either. The fragrance will be familiar to those that enjoy coconut candies and desserts.
GREEN RATING Deep Green. Coconut is a sustainable fruit with many uses. I feel much safer putting an edible oil on my skin than I do using conventional moisturizers. Skin is our largest organ, why take chances by putting synthetic chemicals on it.
AVAILABLE AT The fair trade, organic version pictured above (HKD 159/200ml) is available online at Fair Circle. You can also buy a large bottle (HKD $32/1litre) from your local Indonesian grocer that caters to maids. They use it for cooking, but the shopkeeper told us that the lifeguards at the nearby pool use it as suntan lotion. (NOTE: It comes in a large plastic soda bottle so needs to warmed and the put into a container with a wider mouth for easy use.) According to this website, it is important to buy pure coconut oil, that is not hydrogenated, because it has a lower melting point and will not clog your pores.
Most mass market moisturizers are petroleum-based and contain an ingredient list that requires a chemistry degree to make sense of. Petroleum is a non-renewable resource that is a primary cause of climate change. As petroleum becomes scarcer, we will expand extraction into more fragile ecosystems, such as the arctic. The scarcity of oil has already resulted in the nightmare that is the Canadian tar sands. Continue reading “Non-petroleum Moisturizer”
PRODUCT Mineral crystal deodorant stick HK$20-30. They are sold under various brands such as Crystal or Naturally Fresh.
PRODUCT RATING Very good (when used correctly – see below). It doesn’t prevent you from sweating, by clogging up your pores, like antiperspirants and it doesn’t cover up the smell with a strong fragrance, like conventional deodorants. It lets you sweat naturally, but inhibits the growth of bacteria that causes body odour.
GREEN RATING Quite Green. The crystals occur naturally and do not contain synthetic chemicals like conventional products. The packaging is excessive, however the product is much smaller in size and last significantly longer (up to 9 months) than conventional products thereby producing less garbage overall.
WHERE TO BUY IT Sasa
Sweat is important in allowing the body to naturally cool itself, but many of us are concerned about smelling bad. Antiperspirants use an aluminum based compound to prevent sweating. Aluminum ions are drawn through ducts in your skin into your cells. The ions bring water with them, causing the cells to swell and squeeze the ducts closed so sweat can’t get out. For those that sweat alot, this may permanently shrink the sweat gland, decreasing the amount of sweat it can produce. To read more about how they work click here.
In contrast, deodrants use strong fragrances to cover up smell and contain hazardous anti-bacterials like Triclosan to inhibit the growth of the bacteria that causes odour. Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants contain a myriad of chemicals that may or may not be good for your health.
This recommended alternative is made of naturally occuring mineral salts. When a thin layer of salt is applied to your skin, it can prevent the growth of bacteria, and thus control odour. Continue reading “Natural deodorant: Does it work?”
PRODUCT Loofah bath sponges. HK$ 10-15
PRODUCT RATING Great for bathing and exfoliating dead skin. Washing with this scrub gives your skin a clean, refreshed feel. May feel a bit rough on the skin the first few times you use it. The slim profile and an elastic strap on the back makes it easy to hold.
GREEN RATING Quite Green. Made from a natural vegetable fiber, instead of petrochemicals, the pad itself is made of a sustainable material. It is trimmed with some terry cloth, cotton trimming and an elastic strap. When thrown away, most of it should biodegrade quite easily.
WHERE TO BUY IT A little stall in the Sham Shui Po market. Sasa occasionally sells them. Also available on Taobao.
If you use nylon mesh puffs or synthetic bath sponges, you may want to consider trying this natural loofah bathing pad instead. It is made from the fibers of the loofah plant, also known as a gourd, that is grown by farmers in Asia.
It has a coarse texture that stimulates the skin but may take some getting used to. It scrubs off dead skin and works especially well on rough patches. After using it, your skin feels super clean and revitalized. I have come to enjoy the coarse feel especially after a good sweat. Continue reading “Clean and Reinvigorated Naturally”
PRODUCT & PRICE Lemon grass oil from Taiwan HK$62
PRODUCT RATING Safe and very effective. Rub it liberally on all exposed skin (use alot) and you’ll rarely get bitten. Needs to be re-applied after a couple hours. Has a strong smell – some people like it, others don’t.
GREEN RATING Quite green. Chemical free. Made of plant-based essential oils. Packaged in a re-fillable glass spray bottle. Completely bio-degradable leaving no trace in the environment.
AVAILABLE AT Health Aims
There is nothing more annoying when you’re enjoying a hike on a nice day than being bitten by mosquitoes. Since I spend a lot of time outdoors, I’ve tried many of the mosquito repellents on the market. Here is a review of the repellents most commonly found on store shelves.
The active ingredient in most insect repellents is DEET. It is the most effective insect repellent, but there are human health and environmental concerns associated with its use. According to the US EPA, DEET is slightly toxic to birds, fish and aquatic invertebrates. The overall impact of use on the environment is limited because it is applied only to skin and clothing. However, the production of chemicals such as DEET is inherently environmentally unfriendly.
Of greater concern may be the effect of DEET on humans and this is where it gets more complicated. While deemed safe when used in accordance with instructions, incorrect application can lead to health issues such as skin irritation, disorientation, dizziness and, in extreme cases, seizures or death. According to Cornell University study “Everglades National Park employees having extensive DEET exposure were more likely to have insomnia, mood disturbances and impaired cognitive function than were lesser exposed co-workers”. In 2002, citing human health reason, Health Canada barred the sale of insect repellents for human use that contained more than 30% DEET. The environmental group Beyond Pesticides, lists DEET as neurotoxin. For both environmental and personal health concerns, I avoid all repellents containing chemicals.
PATCHES and WRIST BANDS
I have found that these patches and wrist bands don’t work because they only cover very small areas effectively – mosquitoes will inevitably bite you where you don’t have a patch or wristband. Continue reading “Are you mosquito bait?”
I remember as a child, my whole family used the same bar of soap. Gradually though the bar of soap seemed to disappear and was replaced by liquid hand and body wash. Using bar soap had come to be considered to be unhygienic and a source of bacteria. The strange thing is even though we shared soap, we seldom got sick and had no diseases. … Continue reading The Truth: Bar Soap vs. Liquid Body Wash
PRICE HK$60 for 1 handle with 3 heads
PRODUCT RATING Performs well. Go green without compromising your dental health.
GREEN RATING Deep Green
AVAILABLE AT Herbal Bliss
The constant advertising and the blue strip on bristles have ingrained in us how important it is to change our toothbrushes regularly. But why do we have to throw away a whole toothbrush when it’s only the bristles that are worn out? Why can’t the head be replaced just like a razor? It always seemed kind of wasteful to me to throw away a perfectly good handle each time I needed to replace the worn bristles.
So you can imagine my delight in finding a toothbrush with a replaceable head. As a consumer, the Fuch’s EkoTec Replaceable Head toothbrush seemed to check all the right boxes for me: it’s high quality (made in Germany), performs well and is reasonably priced. As an environmentalist, it really struck a note, with its convenient to use replaceable head and recycled paper packaging. The replaceable head system not only reduces landfill waste but also reduces shipping volume.
The toothbrush looked great on paper, but how would it actually perform? Continue reading “Replaceable Head Toothbrush”