Teacher Jonny Haines has been living in Hong Kong for 5 years and has a passion for nature and outdoor activities. During a recent paddle boarding trip around the Lantau coastline in Discovery Bay he was dismayed by the amount of plastic pollution he came across. He recorded this video and shared it on YouTube as a way of drawing attention to the seriousness of Hong Kong’s plastic pollution problem.
We asked Jonny to give us some insight into why he made and shared the video, and his experiences of plastic pollution in the sea around Hong Kong. (Scroll to the bottom of this post to see links to organisations working to tackle Hong Kong’s environmental issues).
What inspired you to make the video?
I have always been a fan of the water, growing up surfing as a kid in Newquay. Since moving to Hong Kong getting out into nature has always been a priority and most weekends I’m seeking a new hike or trail to explore. It’s all about the escapism and tranquillity of it for me and recently discovering paddle boarding has allowed me to combine so many of my passions and interests.
However, my enjoyment turned to absolute heartbreak when paddling off the beach in the north plaza, Discovery Bay. To see that extent of plastic based pollution and complete and utter disregard for our waters, coastline and wildlife led me to return to the same spot the following day and document what I saw. I felt it important for people to see what they are living amongst, to see what their children are swimming in.
I don’t have the answers but I was determined to shed light on a problem that too many people seem ignorant about.
Have you noticed a worsening in the pollution problem in the time you’ve been paddle boarding in Hong Kong?
Yes but just in the space of a few months it is clear to see that the changing winds and currents determine the level of impact pollution has upon our Lantau coastline. I find people are quick to blame China and be done with it without realising that anything on our shores then becomes OUR problem.
What terrifies me is knowing that whatever we see washed up on the beaches is only a fraction of what is left lurking, floating, and discarded in the oceans itself and whichever way the wind blows seems to decide where it will end up. Nowhere is safe. At least not without urgent action.