[GA Voices] Refuse a fork, Earn a drink, Help our nature
Green Ambassador Voices [GA Voices]
Feature articles by HKU students on nature, sustainability and community well-being. If you are interested in submitting an article please complete the application form.
Olivia Lai, Published Nov 11, 2018
Imagine this: for every piece of plastic waste you save from heading to the landfill, mother earth will thank you with a drink. Take this analogy literally, as this will soon become a reality. Major Hong Kong food chains, namely Maxim's, Café de Coral and Fairwood, have announced a collective campaign to cut plastic waste. Customers who refuse disposable utensils for their takeaway orders will earn a stamp. With 6 stamps from the same company, you can redeem a drink or a set of reusable utensils from the Government. The campaign will commence on 15 November this year and will last for two months.
According to statistics from the Environment Protection Department (EPD) in 2016, Hong Kong throws away 154 tonnes of disposable plastic utensils every day. Although there are other more environmentally-friendly utensils made with bamboo or compostable materials, plastic utensils remain the mainstream option for takeaway. Business owners are responsible for what they give out and ultimately what ends up in the landfill or the environment. In particular, for big corporate restaurants, they have an even larger responsibility to cut waste because their actions are amplified by their scale. A small change in how they run the business makes a huge difference. Despite the fact that customers are the ones that have to make the request for skipping the utensils, this campaign surely is a big step from the industry. We shall wait and see whether it is merely a PR tactic or a step in the right direction for fast food chains taking responsibility for their environmental impacts.
If you are not aware of your plastic consumption, this campaign is a perfect chance to start. You may have heard that plastic waste requires 400 years to break down and has made its way into our food chain already, but it may be daunting to know how you can make an impact. Perhaps it is easier to visualize the effects if we imagine for every step we take in reducing waste, our mother earth is giving us a hot cup of appreciation in return. As customers, we can think more carefully about what is being handed to us. Of course, there are times when takeaway is unavoidable, so instead of aiming for perfection (100% plastic free), we can take one step at a time. If you are heading home, simply skip the utensils. Or put a set of eating utensils in your bag which doesn't take up much space!
"Nature is our most precious asset. Let's start small and reduce our damage to the environment."