I’m excited to be kick starting a new series where I’ll be looking at low waste living in different places in the world; challenges, solutions and stories along the way. Today, Agnese from Our Simple Cottage describes life in Hong Kong, one of the largest corporate mega cities in the world.
Agnese Perri: Known for its jagged skyscraper landscape and its vibrant city life, Hong Kong is one of the leading financial centres and trade ports of the world, hosting over 7 million people in the tiny space it offers. Though the city life may be how the rest of the world sees it, my home is also full of nature, and in fact over three quarters of Hong Kong’s terrain is countryside. With mountains upon mountains, and beautiful beaches, Hong Kong does not lack in its own unique beauty.
But, with the life we lead, it’s increasingly losing its glamour. Though my home and my heart are here, Hong Kong is also my inspiration to lower my waste, and is a clear example of the damaging effects to nature if change doesn’t happen. Hong Kong, simply put, can be split into two cultures when it comes to plastic usage; old, traditional HK versus modern society HK.
An example of the first: markets. Local wet markets have existed forever; they are everywhere and are used all the time by people of all classes. Although when we buy from them as individuals, we create no trash (thanks to our produce bags), by shopping there we do support an industry which relies heavily on polystyrene and other plastics. Local restaurants in Hong Kong also use huge amounts of single use plastics, and plastic bags are everywhere. It’s strange because plastic is now part and parcel of traditional Hong Kong culture even though plastic itself is so new. People often try to make me use plastic even when I tell them I don’t want it because they are trying to make life ‘easier’. They are simply unaware of the environmental issues and why that one piece of plastic ultimately makes life much more complicated.
Secondly, you have the modern city culture: people working long hours in office jobs that find the convenience and simplicity of plastic helpful. They might work too late to plan ahead and buy in bulk or just simply be too busy to plan ahead and carry reusables so on so forth. (I’m sure this culture is something many of us big city folk are used to).
The good news is change is coming in Hong Kong. Stores run by local Hong Kong people such as Lively Life and Ohms café have a bunch of eco products, Instagrams like @greengirlgeekhk and @pledgetonature show us that young, local Hong Kong people are interested in sustainability. Then you have people like Fanny Moritz of the zero waste store NO!W No Waste who is very much a millennial, city girl. You have hippies like Alex and I (broke students too), and @PlasticfreeHK a mum with an online eco shop. People of all ages, classes, sexes, races, and whatever other difference we could have are showing not only other Hong Kongers, but also the world, that everyone can change. Whether you fit all your trash into a tiny jar or simply use reusable bags is irrelevant, change is something we can all implement at some level, and Hong Kong is a prime example.
For a city so fast paced, we are learning to slow down. Our world is moving faster than most of us can keep up with, physically and emotionally. It’s moving too fast for Mother Nature too, and we are seeing the effects. Don’t take the beautiful world we live in for granted; growing up in Hong Kong with such a range of activities, hiking and beach trips every other weekend has been amazing, and I’m sure we all want the same life for future generations. So start with small sustainable actions and take life a little bit slower, for your health and for the health of our planet.
Thanks so much Agnese, it’s fascinating to get an insight into the Zero Waste movement in Hong Kong. Don’t forget to follow Agnese and Alex on Instagram and YouTube for more tips around slow and sustainable day to day living.