With Hong Kong’s municipal waste continuing to grow over the last five years and landfills soon to be exhausted – Hong Kong’s government faces the daunting task of trying control the flow of waste. Not an easy job when you consider that items like plastic are dumped in the range of 2,000 tonnes into landfills daily, and with space at such a premium, there is precious little room to build new landfill sites.
With just under seven million people, crammed into an area of 2,000 square kilometres, Hong Kong is currently the fourth most densely populated place in the world. The future looks pretty grim with the HK government now moving large amounts of waste to China in the hopes to offset the problem – so now Hong Kongers are taking matters into their own hands.
Zero waste living has been on the fringes of mainstream culture for many years now but making such a life-changing commitment is incredibly daunting to most. With shops like Live Zero HK and zero-waste champions gaining more of a platform, the tall order of reducing your trash seems far more manageable as of late.
For the uninitiated, zero waste is a lifestyle that encourages you to send no trash to the landfills. It’s all about making sustainable choices and adapting your habits to allow you to consume less trash – like opting for reusable items that aren’t made to be disposable, ditching packaging for your own containers at the store and of course the philosophy of reducing, reusing, recycling.
When you pay attention, you’d be surprised how quickly waste stacks up. But through minimal lifestyle changes like composting and purchasing second-hand clothing, people involved in the zero-waste movement manage to reduce or eliminate their accumulation over time severely.
It starts with the small things. We spoke Tamsin Thornburrow of Hong Kong’s first ever Live Zero store, they aim to aid folks in their quest for more environmentally friendly consuming habits with an array of package-free bulk foods and other daily essentials. Here’s how it works: you bring your own storage containers, then serve yourself at the various bulk food stations where organic grains, spices, oil, tea, and other pantry staples are on offer. Eco-friendly toiletries and utensils such as reusable lunch boxes and coffee are also available. And that’s all there is to it! Guilt-free and a step in the right direction.
As Tamsin put it – “My best advice is actually to MAKE A START! As soon as you start taking small eco-friendly changes, you’ll find that it’s much easier to lead a zero-waste lifestyle than it appears. For example, start by refusing all single-use plastic items!”
One of the biggest culprits here is plastic straws, there’s a movement in itself to encourage folks to just say no to straws when out at restaurants. And it seems that a change has taken root, as you see restaurants themselves moving away from using plastic straws and with Live Zero’s top seller being their reusable stainless steel straws.
Tamsin continued to say “It’s been such a positive experience – met lots of incredible people and learned loads about how we can live more sustainably in Hong Kong! Also discovered, the limitations/challenges of being zero waste in HK – and the solutions for these challenges! It’s all about finding alternatives. The government has to look into providing accessible and easy recycling ways to reduce waste. Everything just ends up in landfills! Hong Kong needs to be managing waste better!”
As one of the handful of pioneers leading the charge, Live Zero HK has become a powerful voice as well as a strong sustainability resource in the city. With plans to host sustainability workshops and expand to a new location, we can only hope that zero waste food shopping will become more accessible for the whole of Hong Kong!
You can find Live Zero HK at:
24 High Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
Or online at: