How Can YOU Help Contribute to a Greener Hong Kong during COVID?

Publish DateApr 22, 2022

According to an independent international research group, Hong Kong produces the most plastic waste per capita in the Asia-Pacific region. 

While the government has introduced some sustainable initiatives recently that do look promising, such as the 2021 plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, many of these plans are long in the making and do not address some of the more pressing issues that are happening in the city.  

Most notably, despite concerns from the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) warning that three of Hong Kong’s major landfills are projected to be completely filled by 2020, little has been done to combat waste reduction. While the government has introduced educational initiatives and an operating organic waste recovery center (OPARK), over 3,600 tonnes of food waste are still being sent to Hong Kong’s landfills each day, contributing to over hundred thousand tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. 

Sadly during COVID, even more irreversible damage has been done to the marine ecosystem as an additional 4,680 to 6,240 metric tonnes of marine plastic waste made its way into the Hong Kong waters. An estimated 1.56 billion face masks were dumped into the ocean during this period, which experts say will take as long as 450 years to break down. Single-use masks also produce microplastics that are not only harmful for the marine ecosystem, but as scientists have recently verified, are starting to enter our very own bloodstreams. The implications of this horrifying discovery are vast. 

In light of Earth Day this April, here is a list of ways you can contribute to a greener Hong Kong in 2022.WhileCOVIDhas made it moredifficult for usto come together as acommunity, there are still ways we can help contribute as individuals. Every small contribution can amount to a huge difference.  

  1. 1. Reduce Water Waste 

The average person in Hong Kong consumes 130 liters of fresh water each day, making Hong Kongers some of the highest consumers of water in the world. Experts estimate that we will have less than 100 liters of water per day by 2050 if we continue to use water at the same rate. Hong Kong’s main water supply from the Dongjiang River Basin is limited and expensive, and will only worsen if we don’t act fast to reduce our consumption. 

Traditional suggestions for saving water include taking shorter showers and turning off the tap when brushing your teeth. Going meatless even once a week already makes a huge difference - it takes 2,400 liters to produce just one hamburger. And try your best not to pour leftover cooking oil down the drain – just one liter of oil can pollute 250,000 liters of fresh water. Yikes.  

A great way to help save clean water is by planting a tree yourself or through a donation. TNC is one of many charities that can do this for you if you don’t fancy trekking into the wilderness yourself (socially distanced) just to plant one.

  1. 2. Beach Cleanups

  2. Beach Rubbish

Over 137 tonnes of plastic bottles are discarded by Hong Kongers daily, and when discarded incorrectly, a huge amount of them wash up onto our pristine beaches. Not only does this ruin our day out in the beach, it also is a prime killer for many marine species and severely damages the marine ecosystem.  

Beach cleanups are a great way to help reduce this plastic waste. Fortunately, with restrictions easing up, there are a couple of upcoming beach cleanups you can take part in if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. On 13th and 14th May 2022, a beach cleanup organized by EPD is taking place on Lamma Island and then Lantau Island, respectively. You can sign up as a volunteer via the HandsOn Hong Kong website.

  1. 3. Reduce Food Waste 

Food waste in Hong Kong accounts for about 31% of municipal solid waste that goes straight to landfills. In 2019, a recorded 1,067 tonnes of food waste were produced from commercial and industrial sources such as restaurants, hotels and wet markets. The amount of food waste has also been on the rise especially in the F&B industry where it grew from 800 tonnes per day in 2012 to 1,000 tonnes of waste generated per day in 2019. 

In response to Covid-19, there are two charities doing great work in Hong Kong to continue to feed those in need – Feeding Hong Kong, and Food Angel. By repurposing food waste, the non-profit organizations put together nutritious meals through rescuing food, sorting then redistributing to underprivileged communities. They are also both hard at work to ensure hygiene protocols are in place to feed those in need. Most recently, Feeding Hong Kong did a bread run and will have similar upcoming activities for you to take part in. If you don’t have time to volunteer, you can always donate to help out.  

  1. 4. Support Zero Waste Stores & Businesses 

Other than reducing your own waste and plastic usage at home, you can support businesses that operate on a zero-waste policy. From bulk and package-free staples to reusable silicone containers, there are many stores out there that are doing great work in achieving a more sustainable future. If you’ve got the money to spend, you should also try your best to shop organic - organic farming is far better for the environment than commercial farming because its practices involve less pollution soil erosion, and energy. 

You can check out this list of zero waste stores to support on this Timeout article, and feel free to browse verified organic products available in Hong Kong while shopping with OrgHive.

Person living a sustainable life

Ultimately, the best way we can really make a difference is if we come together as a community. In these socially-distanced times, we must ask ourselves, what am I doing that is really making a difference? What else can I do to help? While the government has been great in encouraging public transport and greenhouse gas emissions, there is still much we can do to reduce our waste and ecological footprint.  

If you were to petition for an environmental change, what would it be? What other great ideas do you have to help save the environment now that social distancing protocols are easing up? Feel free to comment below, or create a profile on OrgHive to have your voice heard. 

All of the statistics have been taken from verified sources, such as TNC, EPD, and  

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