Reading Time: 6 minutesIt’s no doubt our daily lives are having a big impact on the environment. You only have to look out your window on any given day in Hong Kong to see the dramatic effects – air, water and noise pollution and rubbish lying on the ground are just some of the examples. We can’t simply dwell on these problems and lament the consequences of our lifestyles; we have to make some changes. Making simple, sustainable swaps can minimise the effects we impose on the environment. Even minor modifications in the home can positively influence our local ecosystem. Here’s our guide on how to make your Hong Kong home more eco-friendly.
Living in an “eco-friendly” way merely means choosing a way of life that is less harmful to the environment. It’s becoming increasingly important to focus on sustainability as a way of protecting our planet and leaving our children with a better world. Thankfully, it’s never been easier to do this in Hong Kong. We’ve put together some information, ideas, resources and recipes you can try out to help make a difference. It’s easy and fun, so why not get started today?
Where To Begin to Create a More Eco-Friendly Home in Hong Kong
As a general rule, if you keep these words in mind, you will get the hang of eco-friendly living in no time: REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE.
REFUSE – stop using single-use plastics. Start with a small change, like using reusable water bottles every day for yourself and your family. Take them with you wherever you go to avoid the need to buy yet another plastic bottle that will likely end up in the landfill!
REDUCE – Buy only what you actually need, including food, clothing, shoes and anything else with a short lifespan in your home. Reducing our consumption is impactful. It means we will put less waste in the already-full Hong Kong landfills.
REUSE – Keep good quality items in working order. A broken dehumidifier can be fixed with parts from the manufacturer and last for many more years.
RECYCLE – This is last on the list for good reason. If we firstly refuse to buy things we can avoid, like plastic water bottles, we don’t have to recycle anything. Reducing our consumption of goods means we have less to throw out. Reusing items we already own also decreases our need to consume more. Recycling isn’t an efficient way to deal with all the waste created by overconsumption and it requires a lot of resources. It is therefore a last resort.
The Issue of Waste in Hong Kong
Your efforts, however big or small, make a difference, so if we can all work together, it’s possible to create a greener, cleaner environment. A greener life is not only beneficial for the environment but more importantly for the health and well-being of your family. Being eco-friendly can also save money in the long run.
To keep things in perspective, here are some facts:
- Each year, nearly 6 million tonnes of waste are generated (far more than other regional cities per capita)
- More than half of all waste is put in landfills
- In the past 30 years, Hong Kong’s municipal solid waste increased by nearly 80% while its population grew by 36%
- In the same time period, the daily per-capita MSW rate rose from 0.97 to 1.27kg, so not only are more people throwing away waste, but we’re each throwing away 30% more.
What is Hong Kong Doing to Help the Waste Situation?
In order to help curb these issues, Hong Kong created a plan that most of us probably weren’t even aware of, the Hong Kong Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013 – 2022.
The campaign slogan is “Use Less, Waste Less” and KS Wong, Secretary for the Environment, had this to say at the time of creating the campaign:
“Permit me to share one of my personal beliefs. I believe a simpler life is a happier life. We can eat what we need, which can be nutritious and delicious, and not more. There are many opportunities for us to enjoy simplicity. Our homes do not need to be over-designed. We can separate recyclables so we can recover resources. We can work together in our community so that we and future generations can transform and conserve Hong Kong with sustainable and green moves.”
All of this still applies today, although there is a new plan in place as of February 2021, the Waste Blueprint for Hong Kong 2035. The new plan has two key targets: to reduce the per-person daily waste disposal by 40 to 45%, and to raise the waste recovery rate to around 55% in the medium term. Along with the new plan is the vision for “zero landfill by 2035.” There’s also a waste charging policy that will charge people according to the quantity of waste generated.
Source: HK government
What Are We Throwing Out?
44% of the waste in Hong Kong is food waste, followed by paper at 22% and plastics at 19%. The rest is made up of wood, glass, metal, textiles and others.
Since so much of our waste is food waste, it’s important to compost. There are companies in Hong Kong who can help set up community composting if your building doesn’t provide it. There are also government grants available to install industrial compost machines at larger residential spaces. Composting can greatly reduce what goes into your bin!
Excellent Resources on How to Minimise Waste
- Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home: provides tips and advice on how to live a zero-waste life
- Lauren Singer’s Zero Waste Lifestyle: provides info on how you can live without producing trash
Swaps To Make in Your Home to Be More Eco-Friendly
- Bring your own reusable bags with you for shopping
- Shop the wet markets with your own bags
- Refuse extra packaging (small bags used for cold items at supermarket cashiers)
- Refuse umbrella bags in shops
- Use newspaper or paper to clean up dog waste instead of plastic bags
- Use tap filters (e.g. Aquasana) / filter jugs (e.g. Brita)
- Bring a reusable water bottle
- Ask for mugs or bring your own take away container
- Refuse plastic cutlery
- Create your own “eco-kit” to bring around with you, including metal/ bamboo straws, reusable container and cutlery, etc
- Get rid of plastic wrap and ziploc bags; instead use resealable sandwich bags, beeswax wrap or Furoshiki cloth wrapping.
- Buy in bulk
- Shop at zero- or low-waste stores, such as Live Zero, Slowood, A&M American Store
- Use paper/ cloth towels instead of paper, like bamboo or cotton
Eco-Friendly DIY Cleaning Product Recipes
These DIY recipes for cleaning recipes have few ingredients and are safe for your family, allowing you to make your Hong Kong home more eco-friendly.
Homemade Foaming Hand Soap
10-12 drops of Essential Oil* (Thieves oil has natural anti-viral, antibacterial properties)
Water to fill
To make: Place all ingredients into a refillable foaming hand dispenser (available at Muji)
Multi Surface Spray Cleaner
1/2 tsp Washing Soda
1/2 tsp Castile soap
2 cups warm Water
15 drops Lemon Oil
To make: Mix well in a glass jar until washing soda dissolves. Great for kitchen counters, tiles, kids’ tables. Store in a spray bottle and shake before use.
Basic Floor Cleaner
3 – 4 Litres Hot Water
2 tbsp Castile Soap
15 – 20 drops Essential Oil
To make: Mix just before use.
1/4 cup witch hazel
1/4 cup distilled water
10-15 drops each of citronella essential oil, lemongrass essential oil, lavender essential oil and patchouli essential oil
2-3 drops Argan oil
1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
To make: Add witch hazel and distilled water to bowl and mix. Add essential oils to the bowl. Add Vitamin E oil and Argan oil. Mix all the ingredients together completely. Simply stir gently with a spoon. Pour mixture into a spray bottle.
Shake well and apply just before heading outside. Reapply as necessary. For children under 10 years old, decrease the drops of essential oil to only 5 drops of each type.
Disinfecting Spray (toilet)
1 1/2 cups Hydrogen Peroxide
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
18 cups Water
15 drops Essential Oil
To make: Mix just before use.
Eco-Friendly/ Zero-Waste Stores in Hong Kong
- Slowood – Kennedy Town, Shatin, Discovery Bay
- Live Zero – Sai Ying Pun and Sai Kung
- Edgar – 5 Moon St , Wanchai
- Bamboa – Shop S304, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central
- Lively Life – Shop UG 6, UG/F, CC Wu Building, No. 302-308, Hennessy Road
- Pyaar – 10/F Hong Kong, 39 Yiu Wa St, Causeway Bay
- Beyond Plastic – Unit 1, 3/F Oceanic Industrial Centre, 2 Lee Lok Street, Ap Lei Chau
- Wet markets/Farmers markets – Across Hong Kong (Just remember to bring your own bags!)
- Hong Kong Bread Box www.hkbreadbox.com/
When it comes to creating a more eco-friendly home in Hong Kong, it’s not about being perfect; it’s about making small, actionable changes that, if taken by everyone, will make a huge difference!
Featured image by: shutterstock; picture 1 courtesy of Shutterstock; picture 2 courtesy of Flickr; picture 3 courtesy of HK government; pictures 4- 8 courtesy of Shutterstock; picture 9 courtesy of Slowood.