Copious use of masks, hand sanitizers, tissues, disposable mask holders and getting restaurant takeaways–these are all trends during Covid times in Hong Kong. Is there still room left to live sustainably in Hong Kong? Where there’s a will, there’s a way—who said we must have a law to dictate to us on how to respect Mother Earth? Here’s the lowdown on how to live green during Covid times:
1. Make or Buy a Cloth Mask. Cloth masks can be used if you don’t have underlying health issues and are under 60 years old, according to the World Health Organization . Try making your own with fabric (available from the fabric stalls floor in Western Market) or buy from the Li Yuen Street market stalls in Central or market stalls in Wanchai). Cool, Hong Kong-themed cloth masks with space for a mask filter are also available at GOD. Added bonus—you can change to another clean cloth mask during the day to prevent maskne and not feel like wasting money. If you do need to use disposable masks, ensure that you remove the elastic bands on both sides before disposing of it. This ensures that the elastic attached to the mask doesn't choke any aquatic animal when they do ultimately end up in the oceans.
In Pic: Homemade cloth masks
2. Create Less Waste. This is the most basic mantra of green living. Live as minimalist as you can, donate or sell the excess. Create less waste and you won’t need to think of a way to donate, sell, hack or recycle it. Check out our previous blog posts on creating less waste and donating and buying preloved clothes and shopping at zero waste stores. Also, some Facebook groups promote the sale of preloved clothes, accessories as well furniture and electrical appliances. Many people sell their clothes and accessories after donning them just a couple of times, thanks to changing fashion fads (which is an issue in itself) at a fraction of its cost. Similarly, folks who relocate, change homes and/or countries and are unable to reuse their existing furniture in their new homes also can opt to rehome their stuff to someone who would appreciate it. Some schools also take back used textbooks as well as freecycle uniforms at the end of the school year.
3. Live Slow Sometimes. When are you truly pressed for time? Try living slow for a change. Wash your hands thoroughly instead of using hand sanitizers. Your skin will thank you in the long run. Walk, cycle, skate or scoot more instead of taking public transport. Your health will thank you. Plan weekends outdoors with friends or family and take your trash away from nature trails.
In Pic: Chilling at Ani-Com Park, Wanchai harbourfront
4. BYOB. This stands for bring your own bag/ box. Keep a lightweight foldable tote bag handy. Keep a few cloth vegetable bags in your bag for veggies. Use cotton or muslin bags that can keep veggies fresh for longer by wetting the bags and going into the fridge veggie drawer. Bring your own takeaway box when buying takeaway—bonus is that the food keeps warm for longer and you feel safe that plastic from takeaway boxes doesn’t leach in your food. Check out a list of restaurants in our ‘Hood which accepts Bring Your Own Takeaway Box in google maps.
Takeaway with BYOB list on google maps-write or comment to Localhood to be added to the list!
In Pic: At Po Lam wet market
5. Go in for greener hygiene alternatives. Shampoo bars are kind to your scalp and produce far less effluents that would in turn reduce the pollutants in our waters. Also, feminine hygiene products like the menstrual cup and reusable cloth pads reduce the dumping of sanitary waste in our landfills. Ditto the use of reusable cloth diapers vis à vis disposable diapers. Buy bulk hygiene products using your own containers. If you must buy the convenient packaged products, then check how to recycle.
In Pic: Sanitary Napkins (Source: VectorStock)
6. Use Reusable Bottles. Paper cups and straws all add up to the landfill. Reusable bottles come in all sizes and weight. Due to Covid, all public water fountains are closed but you can refill your water bottle at a restaurant where you are eating or refill at the paid and hygenic water stations. There is also a water dispenser at some MTR stations (e.g. Admiralty Station). Most food delivery apps and some restaurants do not provide disposable utensils unless you opt in.
7. Unplug Electronics at Night. Did you know most electronic devices keep on drawing energy even when turned off? Unplug at night to save energy and your electricity bill, especially that laptop which is already fully charged on the docking station.
In Pic: Charge your phone while biking at Hysan sky garden, Causeway Bay
8. Compost. Stuck at home because of the coronavirus, it might feel like you're cooking more than you've ever cooked in your entire life. Maybe, as much as you're meal planning and reducing your food waste, there are certain things you're just not going to eat like fruit peels. The good news? There's a solution for your home food waste that doesn't involve landfills: Composting! It’s one of the most effective ways to minimize the amount of garbage your family sends to the landfill. Around 30% of what we throw away are food scraps and yard waste. Not only does this reduce methane gas, which is a major factor in global warming, but composting also controls trash can odor. And the biggest payoff? You'll be left with a rich fertilizer you can use in your own garden or donate to your favorite cause.
These tips for green living during Covid are all tried and true by our volunteers—mothers, working parents and living in the same neighbourhood as you! If we can do it, so can you!