Hong Kong. No Disneyland. No Ocean Park.
I was there to spend a simple weekend exploring local organic stores and wet markets (surprised that they are air-conditioned), plus trying out meat-free eateries. All this while sticking to some basic eco-friendly rules that I follow at home, like finishing up my food.
Despite clearing out my fridge before the trip, I still had a leftover peanut pancake which became my first snack in Hong Kong, packed in beeswax wrapper, stow away inside my luggage with other reusables that became really useful during the trip.
I brought along 2 containers. A plastic version that is airtight and leakproof and a stainless steel version, two of my most compact ones. Beeswax wrapper in smaller dimension seals my cutlery set in case I need to throw them into my bag when the containers are full, keeping them away from the-whatever-dirt-I-have inside my bag. These come in handy for street food and bakeries with no seating, think stinky tofu, cream cakes, and egg tarts. But whenever there is an option to dine in, I will choose so to save the hassle of explaining my “no-disposable” preference. It’s a great way to immerse oneself in the native atmosphere. The servers at the Cha-Chaan-Teng are straightforward and loud, and always have an interesting tale or two to share among themselves, nevermind that the shop is full of hearing ears. However, take note that some eateries will impose a minimum spending amount per head due to Hong Kong’s high rental rates. Besides food containers, I also brought along a borosilicate glass flask for hot coffee takeaways and of course, my daily drinking water that I boil and cool every night in the hotel room. If you find bringing these along cumbersome, at least consider foldable reusable bags for shopping, I brought 4.
Packing for a vacation doesn’t mean stuffing the luggage with plenty of disposables, especially for a short trip like mine. I simply condense my bathroom routine with multi-purpose products, such as applying the same jojoba oil for face and body or using the same soap for hair and body. I could easily do without a face mask or scrub for a week, so why bother bringing along? Sunscreen is a must though.
The first thing I do when I step into a hotel room is to gather all the disposable items and place them outside the bathroom for the chambermaid to know that they can reuse them after we check out. Even if you don’t use them, leaving them on the bathroom counter will only damage the paper packaging with water splashed from the sink, making them unusable for the next guest. I usually bring along my outdoor rubber slippers as bedroom slippers after a quick wash. But if the room is floored with hardwood, I will just go barefoot, making myself feel at home, thus saving a pair of disposable room slippers from the landfill.
Public transport in Hong Kong is famous for its efficiency. MTR stations are super accessible, with numerous exits leading to the various destinations. But I have view watching in mind, so I boarded one of the 11 airport bus routes that depart from the terminal to my accommodation that lies along the route.
Google map has also totally changed my public transport experience in a foreign city, allowing me to explore further, connecting the dots with buses, minibuses, even the 100-year-old tramlines are also included in the Google routes. No longer are itineraries limited to just popular touristy spots or places near MTR stations. Precious amount of travelling time is saved by choosing the “fastest route”.
But we can always choose to go the slower way, such as purposely taking a stroll along the street even though a bus will take us there in 5 minutes. There are plenty of things to see in the neighbourhoods, unlike the cookie-cutter malls.
Some of the daily mundane that caught my eyes:
// public road for everyone
// store with memories
// creating own’s patch of greenery with limited space
// or leave it to nature
// rag-and-bone man, keeping useful items in the loop
// the usual recyclables in demand
// packaging-lite shopping
// wrapped by nature
// cellophane-free vegetables
// local organic vs imported premium
// “it’s more tiring to cook at home”, a reason for take-outs in this fast-paced city
// even places of worship can conduct workshops on environmental issues, overheard at the Wong Tai Sin temple announced over their PA system
// every effort counts, an eco-reminder spotted in a local market: “today let’s save the earth together. tomorrow will be a better day for us.”
Turns out that Hong Kong has plenty of recycling bins dotting around the island. They are never too far away from you to drop your recyclables. I started counting recycling bins around me while waiting at the airport. They are in such abundance that at a particular vantage point, I could spot 3!
// a reminder that you are contributing to the landfill, rubbish don’t just poof and disappear
// no language barrier. no excuse!
// recycling bins next to garbage bins to make you think twice.
// see through ones
// batteries included
// slot for papers only, so you can’t sneak in your plastic bottles
At the end of my trip, I still ended up with some non-recyclable plastic rubbish, though I am sure that I have saved more waste than I have created as a result of being a mindful consumer. I understand that the environmental problems won’t go away immediately after I reject a plastic shopping bag. But the key point is to at least try, isn’t it? Any more tips from experienced eco-travellers?