In Germany we’ve been used to separate waste since the 1980ies.

Recycable coffee cups and bottles are getting more and more popular, the good ol‘ lunch box is back and people think about the ecological footprint when travelling and shopping. Munich as the 2nd German major city is establishing a plastic water bottle-free system that offers free tab water stations all over the city, where people can refill their own reusable bottles:

refillBut how are other countries dealing with the environmental challenges?

Just how open to recycling are people there and what options do they have in everyday life to act and consume more sustainably?

HONGKONG- FASTPACE LIFESTYLE MAKES ECOFRIENDLY BEHAVIOUR DIFFICULT

At Hongkong airport one is welcomed by THE Chinese icon: Bruce Lee

At Hongkong airport one is welcomed by THE Chinese icon: Bruce Lee

I had the opportunity to check out Hongkong in this respect for 2 months: A super modern city where everything is set up for maximum ease to make the inhabitant’s lifes in this very densely populated city easier. Nobody really cooks at home, due to lack of space or time, life mostly happens outside. And eating outside comes with a pile of plastic dish garbage. To much: More than 9000 tons of garbage daily piles up in the SAR Hongkong. Clearly, this amount is difficult to handle. But trying to shift people’s conditioning is just as difficult. When you are used to not only consuming coffee and water out of plastic but ALL meals and you don’t have to care about carrying and cleaning lunch boxes or bottles, there is simply no motivation to do so. Too complicated, too stressful.

Modern skyscraper, unmodern garbage policy

Modern skyscraper, unmodern garbage policy

IN SEARCH OF AN ECOLOGICAL LIFESTYLE IN THE 7 MILLION CITY: GREENQUEEN, GREENLADIES AND THE PMQ MALL

While searching for an ecologically more acceptable lifestyle I detect great impulses, e.g. the blog GREENQUEEN, where I find everything sustainable, from restaurants to fashion. Eating out there are many organic, vegetarian and vegan options. Fashion is more difficult. Recycling and reusing is not very popular with Chinese in fashion issues either. Second hand shops (such as Greenladies), that are super popular in other megacities and that are ususally located in the hippest neighborhoods are to be found very rarely in Hongkong. The reason why is partly cultural: Concerns a person might have died in a garment and a bad spirit might live in it is enough to not consider wearing pre-worn garments. Even though the younger generation has a different approach to it, this cultural aspect and the general discomfort when thinking about wearing sth. that another person had on their body before, probably is responsible for the weak presence of thrift stores.

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Second Hand Shopping at "Greenladies" in Wan Chai: Thrift stores are rare in Hongkong

Second Hand Shopping at „Greenladies“ in Wan Chai: Thrift stores are rare in Hongkong

I find a promising panel discussion: In the framework of deTour, a yearly design event with workshops, exhibitions, installations and design talks at thePMQ Mall, a sophisticated little mall in the heart of trendy neighborhood „Central“ on Hongkong Island:

detour

design talks

There, where local labels and handmade clothing, shoes, pottery, jewelry and furniture are offered, is room for sustainable consumption.

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At the PMQ mall sustainable workshops are offered: Old t-shirts are woven and get a 2nd life as a blanket

At the PMQ mall sustainable workshops are offered: Old t-shirts are woven and get a 2nd life as a blanket

As the event was only offered in Cantonese, I contact the curator of the event, Shin Wong and she is introducing  Kay Wong to me. Over breakfast with her I learn about the label she had, Daydream Nation, her stay in Kopenhagen and her decision, to head away from fast fashion towards zero waste art and design. Her work is very inspiring and it is nice to see what beautiful, authentic designs emerge when you don’t work under the pressure of constantly producing new styles for fast fashion purposes. „It’s still like that,“, she says, „it still needs a lot of persuasion and information until consumers rethink“. I talk with her about the workshops we offer in Germany and she too sees big potential through eduction.

Kay Wong: www.thegreenartivist.com

Kay Wong: www.thegreenartivist.com

REDRESS: THE HONGKONG NGO HAS BEEN COMMITTING TO RECYCLING AND A GREENER CLOTHING INDUSTRY FOR 10 YEARS

Education and information. An approach that also Christina Dean, the founder of the NGO  REDRESS has. In 2007 she got confronted with the severe problems the fashion industry in causing. That old clothing goes directly to the land fills instead of recycling containers. That spinning mills, weaving mills and laundries contribute big time to environmental problems in Hongkong and China. After all, consumption that is not scrutinized, is neither good for the wallet nor the environment.

Redress is now working on recycling programs with the clothing industry, is offering repair workshops, is doing consumer campaigns, supports FASHION REVOLUTION CHINA, startet a Design Award and published the book DRESS WITH SENSE, that promotes a sustainable lifestyle and motivates to take the plunge with beautifully illustrated advices:

dress with sense 03 dress with sense 02 dress with sense 01MY RESUME FOR HONGKONG:

Redress is an entity in the sustainablity field with a broad, holistic approach.

Small designer labels, activists and blogs offer an alternative to fast fashion.

Still, in comparison to other places, the eco-fair movement in Hongkong is still on a fledgling stage. In a city that is located just outside the sewing shop of the world, mainland China that is, it’s hard to front the flood of cheap garments.

The typical, pastel colored skyscrapers that are found everywhere in Hongkong and that often sport a surreal play of colors

The typical, pastel colored skyscrapers that are found everywhere in Hongkong and that often sport a surreal play of colors