Sustainability is definitely a buzzword in recent times with both companies and individuals realizing the importance of changing their ways in the face of global warming and climate change. While taking big steps can be quite overwhelming, here are little ways that you as an individual can help reduce your carbon footprint while also having fun!

Buying secondhand

woman thrift shopping for secondhand clothing
© Becca Mchaffie, Unsplash

Perhaps one of the biggest contributors to our carbon footprint is fashion. The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions, more than the aviation and freight transportation industries combined.  And it is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. One way to stop the cycle of use and throw is to buy secondhand. Hong Kong has many different retailers that provide trendy and thrifty pieces.

 With stores around Hong Kong, Green Ladies uses a consignment model to help you reduce and reuse your clothing. They also have Green Little, which includes kidswear.

To find designer wear for your little ones, check out Retykle! They are an innovative e-commerce platform enabling parents to buy designer children’s clothing at a fraction of their retail price, while also benefitting the environment.

Redress is an environmental charity that aims to reduce fashion’s water, chemical, and carbon footprints through the prevention and transformation of textile waste. You can not only get fashionable finds in their pop-ups and newly opened store (78 Ap Liu Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon), you can also get involved by donating your clothes or by volunteering to sort the clothing or help run events.

Beach cleaning

volunteers cleaning litter from a beach in hong kong
© Anne Roberts, Flickr

Hong Kong is not known for its beautiful beaches or pristine waters. There is a huge waste production and it is often polluting our seas, parks, and roads. With terrible images of straws and plastic bags endangering marine life and choking turtles, or of our beaches covered with old bottles and trash, there is a great need for humans to change our ways. While we might not be able to change overnight, you can definitely reduce our impact by participating in a beach clean-up!  Put on your gloves and grab a trash bag and get ready to clean!

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Having cleaned 10 million kilograms of trash across Hong Kong in the last 20 years,  Hong Kong Clean Up is a pioneer in beach clean-ups. Volunteers can join to collect the trash and record the data, while raising awareness about local and global debris issue.  You can also sign up as a team to join the yearlong Cleanup Challenge helping Hong Kong return to its natural beauty.

You can also sign up with Plastic Free Seas, an educational charity reducing plastic pollution in Hong Kong and beyond. While there are several volunteer activities that you can join, the most popular is their beach clean-up. Grab a couple of friends or colleagues and join their monthly DB beach clean-ups. Or, you can organize your very own clean-up event!

In order to tackle the single use plastics problems, Beyond Plastic provide biodegradable, compostable, and ecological household products. They also host bi-monthly beach clean-ups around Hong Kong to raise awareness and inspire people to change their plastic consumption patterns and lifestyles. 

Local NGO The Green Earth, among the missions of green policy advocacy and corporate partnerships to spread awareness about waste reduction and excessive plasticity in Hong Kong, holds group beach and country park cleanups. They also spearhead programs for used clothes collection and tree planting & post-planting maintenance.

Tree planting

people in hong kong planting trees
© The Conservancy Association

Trees are nature’s answer to so many of our man-made troubles. Whether it’s reducing harmful carbon dioxide emissions, purifying our air, or cooling down our homes, trees are great for people, animals, and the environment. While there are not a lot of options in Hong Kong to plant trees in the forests, here are some ways you can support tree planting around the world.

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Friends of the Earth is a leading green group in Hong Kong and one of their flagship programmes is the Tree Planting Challenge. Since 2005, over 85,000 native species have been planted on the slopes in various country parks by more than 9,300 participants. So join them in 2021 to reduce our carbon footprint, stop global warming, and learn more about the impacts of climate change!

As part of the Green Hong Kong Campaign, the Hong Kong government launched a “Green Volunteer Scheme” to encourage the public to participate in greening activities such as tree surveillance, reporting problematic trees, and assisting in agriculture and horticulture activities. You can join activities in districts around Hong Kong including in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the outlying islands.

Many of us know Kadoorie Farm as a botanical garden and petting zoo, but their work goes way beyond. They are at the forefront of raising awareness of ecological and sustainability issues and undertaking species conservation and ecosystem restoration. There are several avenues to volunteer, but Flora Conservation Department is always looking for dedicated individuals that can help with gardening and planting work, data collection, photography, and scientific research amongst other things. Join to find out how you can help preserve the environment.

Other than physically planting a tree in Hong Kong, you can donate to various organizations around the world like Trees for Trees that will plant a tree for you! So for your next gift, why not go eco-friendly and dedicate a tree in the name of your friend or loved one?

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Perhaps the easiest way to make an impact on the world is a simple change in your search engine. Ecosia is a new and improved Google; for every search, they plant a tree around the world. From Nigeria to Guatemala to Mexico to Indonesia to the United Kingdom to Canada, they work with locals to identify and plant species of trees. What are you waiting for? Check out Ecosia now!

Reduce meat consumption

vegetarian ingredients vegetables and condiments in neat lines
© Gareth Hubbard, Unsplash

Intensively farmed meat is another huge contributor to climate change. Red meat is particularly harmful, as cows and sheep produce methane, a greenhouse gas. However, even chicken can contribute due to their feed and the water used in their upkeep.

While becoming vegetarian or vegan overnight may not be feasible, a weekly or monthly switch to plant-based meats or a veggie-filled diet is a great way to help the environment. Many restaurants around Hong Kong also support meat-free Mondays, where they use some of the many plant-based products mentioned below in their meals. 

Some of the most well-known meat substitutes include Impossible Food, with their incredible beef, sausage, and pork substitutes and Beyond Meats, which has a variety of beef products such as burgers, meatballs and sausages. There is also the homegrown Omni Foods, which caters to the local palette with their Xiao Long Bao and Siu Mai substitutes. You can also make the switch away from cow’s milk to soy, almond, or oat milk, which is available in most cafes and supermarkets.

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Born in New Delhi, brought up in Hong Kong, and having lived in New York, city life is in Kopal's blood. You can find her exploring her beloved city. Whether it's the latest sustainable fashion store, or the cutest new coffee shop, she loves finding the hidden secrets of Hong Kong. In her free time, Kopal is a active advocate for animal welfare and adoption, and she runs a Facebook and Instagram page, @adoptdontshop.hk.

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