It’s time to ring in the New Year with a greener conscience. Most people realise the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle, but the effort of doing so can seem daunting. Whether you want to reduce your carbon footprint, cut down on utility bills, or just eat organic during your lunch break, here are a few earth-friendly pointers to inspire you to become more eco-chic. Make 2017 your zero-waste year by taking green mainstream!
Believe it or not, the fossil fuel energy consumed in moving food is way higher than the food energy provided by the food and accounts for over one third of today’s global greenhouse gas emissions. Supermarkets, while super useful, have an enormous carbon footprint that you carry when you shop in them.
What to do:
• Choose fairly traded organic food wherever possible
• Take a look at the packaging. If there’s a lot, don’t buy it
• Only buy what you and your family are sure to consume in order to minimise wastage
• Purchase food whenever possible at local Farmers’ Markets
• Support small local food stores and food production initiatives
• Preserve traditional food culture and cuisine
According to the WHO a shocking 20 million children under five years old, worldwide, are severely malnourished. But get this: animals raised for food are fed with more than 80% of the corn and more than 95% of the oats produced by the US. Equally shocking is that in Hong Kong, 4 out of 10 adults are overweight or obese. So, if everyone in Hong Kong gave up meat one day a week, it would be like taking 86,000 cars off the road. Such a small lifestyle change can make a massive difference.
What to do:
• Go meat-free on Mondays like many around the world
• Green Queen’s dining out guide will help you eat greener: https://www.greenqueen.com.hk/green-queen-guide-hong-kong/
• Eat less meat and more fresh, seasonal, locally-grown organic produce
• Cook carefully and mindfully; eat at home more often than you go out
• Never waste food, and avoid buffets especially as huge amounts of food are thrown away and the tendency is to pile your plate with too much and too often
• Refuse disposable utensils and food packaging; reusable utensils is an important theme highlighted at Taikoo Place’s Tong Chong Street Market
We love buying clothes – who doesn’t? But nearly one-fifth of items people buy in Hong Kong are never or seldom worn. And the unused clothes amount to around HK$3.9 billion annually, according to Greenpeace. Mass production and mindless spending have created an ecological and financial debt. The same goes for electronic devices, especially mobile phones and computers where everyone wants the latest gadget regardless of whether their old one works or not.
What to do:
• Don’t impulse buy. Stop, think, consider before you buy something
• Donate what you don’t need
• Buy second hand when you can, especially for electronics, digital items and cars
• Bring your own shopping bag
• Less really is more: don’t get sucked into buying the latest anything if you don’t need it
• Check out Go Green HK for more. https://gogreenhongkong.com/
As for trash, don’t get us started: Hong Kongers are notorious for sending everything straight to landfills without sorting for recycling plants. By 2020 our government estimates that we will have no more space in our current landfills so the need to reduce and recycle is crucial
What to do:
• Sort trash into “Paper”, “Glass”, “Aluminium” and place in the relevant recycling bins
• Better still, throw out less waste to achieve a “zero energy balance” as far as possible
• For more, go to Ecozine’s fantastic site for everything green to help you: http://www.ecozine.com
Blazing lights, blaring air conditioners, running taps, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, washer-dryers and other appliances, using cars, planes, and more. Most of us are guilty of being consumers of the worst kind, using electricity, fuel, and water indiscriminately without a thought for the environment.
What to do:
• Choose appliances with high energy-efficiency and use them only when necessary
• Cut down on using air-conditioning; use a fan, install double-glazing, and set air-conditioning temperature at 25.5°C
• Check out Swire’s Environmental Policies that are integrated into the day-to-day operations and practices for a healthier, cleaner Hong Kong: http://www.swireproperties.com/en/sustainability/commitment/environmental-policy.aspx
• Get rid of the car (responsibly!) and use public transport. Better still, walk or cycle
• If you absolutely have to keep a car, save fuel by car-pooling
• Cut your air miles. Yes, we know everyone needs to get out of the urban jungle but you can spend your holidays relaxing and exploring nature in Hong Kong