How often would you say "no" to plastic disposables such as straws, bags, bottles and takeaway boxes?
Two local groups are calling on Hongkongers to do just that on May 30 as part of their "Enough Plastic" education campaign.
The initiative, run by non-profit organisation EcoDrive and think tank New Youth Energy HK, aims to encourage the reduction of unnecessary waste and consumption of single-use plastics in the city.
In 2017, Hong Kong dumped more than 10,700 tonnes of municipal solid waste at landfills daily.
One-fifth of this was plastic waste. The numbers are what prompted EcoDrive co-founders to commit themselves to educating the public on the consequences of using single-use plastics.
"We're not environmentalists, but we can see what a culture of convenience is doing to our environment. We believe it is important to start changing our own habits, instead of putting the blame on the government or corporations," EcoDrive co-founder Sherry Fung-Wong says.
We believe it is important to start changing our own habits, instead of putting the blame on the government or corporationsEcoDrive co-founder Sherry Fung-Wong
Angel Lam, a 28-year-old copywriter, says she tries to reduce her single-use plastics consumption by bringing a reusable container for takeaway meals, but she has been rejected by eateries. "It's disappointing, but I understand that this might be due to company policy. When that happens, I usually wouldn't go back to buy takeaway, or would just dine in."
But for others, the habit might be harder to kick. Chris Yim, a university student, says he never brings a reusable cup or container for drinks and meals because it is "inconvenient".
"Whenever I buy takeaway, it's always spontaneous, like when I pick up dinner on the way home," he says, adding he will refuse single-use cutlery because there are reusable ones at home.
To help create a lasting impression on Hongkongers, campaign organisers have enlisted the support of 60 local celebrities, including Aaron Kwok Fu-shing, Donnie Yen Ji-dan and Miriam Yeung Chin-wah.
As part of the campaign, the celebrities are portrayed in a series of photographs by award-winning Hong Kong photographer Wing Shya to reflect how single-use plastics damage the environment. The images will be displayed in a digital exhibition at Hysan Place from May 30 to June 2.
"Some people think it's uncool to bring their own containers for takeaway, but when celebrities do it, it becomes cooler," EcoDrive's Fung-Wong says.
The campaign will culminate in what organisers claim to be the city's first "No Single Use Plastic Awareness Day" on May 30. On that day, organisers hope Hongkongers will forgo single-use plastics, such as straws, bottles, bags and takeaway boxes.
New Youth Energy HK, which organises academic exchanges, forums, seminars and workshops to encourage young people to participate in local affairs, hopes the campaign will have a lasting impact.
"Environmental protection is not about not using single-use plastics for one day," president Marco Lo says.
"We hope the celebrities can set a positive example for their followers and remind them of the importance of plastic waste reduction in the long run."
In addition to the photo exhibition, organisers have also led hundreds of volunteers to eateries across 15 districts on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories to encourage staff, whom Lo says were "surprisingly supportive", to cut down on giving out plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery.
"New Youth Energy HK is new to environmental protection, but having experienced the massive typhoons and the amount of plastic waste left in their wake, we believe it is more important than ever to reduce our consumption of single-use plastics," Lo adds.
EcoDrive co-founder Laura Southwood agrees.
"We're not expecting people to live a zero-waste lifestyle because single-use plastics is unavoidable. Our goal is to encourage people to start small, and start now."
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