Realistic 5Rs

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Everyone had learned about the “R“s during the school days, but after graduating, most people had forgotten what they’ve learned. When going out to eat, drink, most people don’t regard their impact as a big problem, when in fact, each one of us on the Earth is contributing  to the environmental damage done. We’re just refusing to face the fact that we’re compromising our future.

To recap the “R”s we learned in primary and secondary school:

  1. Reduce
  2. Reuse
  3. Recycle
  4. Replace
  5. *new* REFUSE.

The 5th R is REFUSE, it’s a newer R in this concept. A reminder that we should refuse the opportunity to act in an unenvironmentally-friendly way.

5. REFUSE disposable plastic

  • #BYOB Bring Your Own Bag. Bring Your Own Bottle. Bring Your Own Box.
  • Bring your own bag when you go shopping.
  • Bring your own bottle when you go out. You can ask shops to fill the drinks in your bottle/tumblers.
  • Bring your own box when you go out for dinner and you think there’s a possibility of leftovers. If your box is too heavy – www.lexlim.com can help you – they have 100% silicon boxes that are collapsible and lightweight!
  • Choose items that aren’t packed in plastic.

 

1. REDUCE usage of materials

  • Such as doing double-sided photocopying.
  • Sharing a tempo tissue with a few people to wipe your mouth after meals.

2. REUSE everything!

  • Not everything is one-use!
  • Buy reusable cups, plates.
  • Don’t use paper cups at water stations.

3. RECYCLE paper, bottles, metals

  • Recycle paper the clean way. Keep paper dry, no staplers, stred the paper first if it’s business-related confidental information.
  • Recycle water bottles! Of course minimize the opportunity of ever buying water bottles outside, but if you do, the least you can do is recycle them.
  • Put a recycle bag at home. Collect bottles and then take them to the recycle station once a few days.
  • Recycle your canned drinks at recycle station – same principle.

4. REPLACE with environmentally-friendly versions

  • Replace your plastic or paper cups with real ones – it’s not bad to invest in a durable and long-lasting one.
  • Use environmentally-friendly recycled paper instead of pure white paper. White paper sucks when the light reflects on it and the paper is so bright, anyway.

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The above image is to recap. #BYOB

  • When going for a takeaway, going out for dinner, bring out a box!
    • So you don’t need to buy styrofoam boxes.
      *Styrofoam plastic = nonbiodegradable. Plastic that stays on Earth forever (even until you die!)
    • Suggestion: Buy silicon collapsible lightweight food containers @lexngo (actually I’m not sponsored by them! Honestly I feel that it’s a waste they’re not as known as they should be. It’s a plastic revolution!)Untitled design.png
    • Bring Your Own Bottle!
      • It’s hot in the summer, yes. We like to drink fruit juices from shops, bubble tea, starbucks or whatever! We can bring our own bottle or tumblers to those shops! (If you’re a HongKonger check this Apple Daily article about #BYOB: link) Very environmentally-fashionable too!
      • Help remake a tumbler a trend! Remember Starbucks’s tumbler discount: if you use their tumbler you get a $3 discount! Think about all the money you can save with all the coffee everyone drinks every day (Interesting fact: The average Hong Konger drinks 2.2 kg of coffee in 2012 alone! Source)

All-in-all, being environmentally-friendly may seem like a bother to some. But as long as it’s grown into our daily routine and incorporated into our daily lifestyle, it’s just as easy as you get up in the morning (since you have to wake up and live on anyway, same principle)!

#BYOB Let’s prepare our Earth’s future together.

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Hong Kong: King of Wastage

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How much waste are you producing everyday? Yes, we all know there’s environmental problems to care about. But how much action have we put into it to solve the problem?

I live in Hong Kong, one of the most wasteful cities in the world. In 2010, we were coined the most wasteful city in the world.

This graph below shows the total amount of waste disposed in landfills daily by year. From the graph, despite the environmental policies the government had implemented throughout this decade, the rate at which solid waste was disposed at Hong Kong landfills had not decreased (and only increased).

Basically, just more and more waste is generated in Hong Kong.

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Source: Monitoring of Solid Waste in HK: Waste Statistics for 2014

Imagine all that waste we are creating each day. In Hong Kong, in 2014 alone, almost 15000 tonnes of waste were disposed each day. Imagine that number multiplied 365 days in a year.

Almost 10000 tonnes were created by Domestic, Commercial and Industrial Waste. This means the trash from our households, offices and factories. This is waste we can save!

As a normal Hong Kong citizen, I didn’t know until this moment that the Environmental Bureau of the Hong Kong Government had built up a plan “Plan E” (I guess E for Environmental) to change our city to become environmentally friendly. This table is a summary of the goals:

http://www.enb.gov.hk/en/files/WastePlan-E.pdf

Source: Hong Kong Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022

Plan E

The Vision of this Plan E (I think E for Environmental) is “To instill environmental-sustainable culture in Hong Kong people’s daily life“. The target, “to reduce Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) by 40%  on a per capita basis by 2022, will specifically aim to reduce the current per capita MSW disposal of 1.27 kg per day to 0.8 kg per day by 2022“.

As ideal as this scheme sounds to everyone, had it not occurred that the disposal of MSW in Hong Kong had just been kept at around the same level in the past decade?

I had been particularly concerned with policy direction #2

“Make all out efforts to mobilize the community to participate”

The reason why I’m so surprised, is that I sent the image above (in green) to about 10 of my closest friends and family (all Hong Kong local residents), and literally none of them realized that the government had such great environmental goals for Hong Kong.

How could these goals be succeeded if the community of Hong Kong don’t even know about the plans of the government?

At least, the government needs to educate the citizens and make them voluntary participate.

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When comparing Hong Kong to other Asian countries, the daily domestic waste generation rate per capita is 1.36kg, significant more than Taipei, Seoul and Tokyo.

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This bar chart above shows the proportion of waste in which it is waste is managed.

Hong Kong, already with the highest generation of waste (from Figure 2), has the most inefficient waste management structure.

HK’s waste is 52% in landfill and 48% in recycling. 

Whilst other larger developed Asian cities have moved to incineration or other waste-to-energy processing technology and almost no landfill, Hong Kong’s main waste processing method remains as LANDFILL, 52%. Japan literally has no landfills, Singapore and Taiwan are at a mere 1and 2%, with South Korea at 19% but working on it to reduce their waste with great waste managing technology.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong says that its recycling 48% of its waste. I am wondering how trustworthy is the source of the information that had came from the official government documents. A few days ago, an article by South China Morning Post mentioned that only 17% of water bottles are successfully recovered for recycling, whilst the world international average was 37%.

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Pie chart showing the compositions of different MSW in Hong Kong.

In a typical rubbish bin, there may be a lot of food and leftovers of bones (40%), as well as other things. Putrescibles are actually organic, and when other in the countryside, it can be just thrown away as it is bio-degradable.

This is what we can do first – we can sort by sorting out our rubbish! In each household, we should put a small big that contains things we can bring to the recycle bin.

If you would like to know more about the nearest recycle bin by GPS:

iTunes Appstore: https://goo.gl/p5XUsP

Google Play: https://goo.gl/VpUY3m

Watch more about FOOD WASTE. A whooping 1/3 of the waste in Hong Kong comes from leftover food. When you order too much and leave food…think about where the waste goes in Hong Kong. Landfills only. Let’s not compromise our future generations…

Please watch this TED Talk: Tristram Stuart: The global food waste scandal

Sources: 

Hong Kong Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022 (2014). Retrieved May 31, 2016 from The Government of Hong Kong, Environment Bureau Web site: http://www.enb.gov.hk/en/files/WastePlan-E.pdf

Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong – Waste Statistics for 2014 (2015). Retrieved May 31, 2016 from Government of Hong Kong, Environmental Protection Department Web site: https://www.wastereduction.gov.hk/sites/default/files/msw2014.pdf