We had the world’s biggest documented plastic pellet spill occur on our beaches in July which grabbed Hong Kong’s attention and forced the government to face the growing plastic pollution problem. Everybody got involved in the clean up, from people on the streets that rarely go to beaches, to people who usually only go to gazetted (or government) cleaned beaches, business leaders and of course the government themselves.
The timing worked in favour of triggering long term action on this problem too as our government was newly elected and they saw how many thousands of people got out and were cleaning pellets and trash and saying loudly ‘we want clean beaches’. It was a united voice talking plastic pollution in Hong Kong for the first time. Now, new policies are being developed and next week at the Chief Executive’s January 16th Policy Address we will see what big changes they have come up with. Fingers crossed.
It was a great year for me too. I recieved incredible personal support (thank you, thank you, thank you!) from so many individuals, organisations and businesses to help achieve my goal of raising awareness of the problem of plastic pollution. The Journey to the Plastic Ocean trip in June was a great platform to use to say ‘Hey! Our daily consumer habits are trashing our beaches, and whats more, all that rubbish is ending up in the middle of the ocean, corrupting our food chain!’. It made people listen & then inspired many to act.
And now we are well into 2013. I have quite a few resolutions (one I broke just 21 hrs after I had made it!) but a few that I intend to keep and make them habits.
Like my reusable cutlery in a pouch.
I have a couple of sets of cutlery in there (including 2 stainless steel straws ) so I can eat out with a friend and not have to use disposable cutlery, thus creating less waste. It feels a bit like a drop in the ocean but every time I use them I notice people looking, then realising the sense in my simple act. I am determined this year to carry it with me always, it is smaller than my wallet so I have no excuse.
My other resolution is to challenge everyday ‘plastic’ habits of convenience or tradition when they make no real sense. For example, I’m talking to supermarket managers and asking them politely if they can reduce waste by taking simple measures in their store. One of the things that has really irked me for ages in the supermarkets is the sushi grass in the trays. My kids eat a lot of sushi and for a while I could take my own container for them to fill as their sushi making coincided with my school run. It was completely waste free sushi and it was great.
This plastic is completely unnecessary and a waste for the company and the environment. So I asked the manager if it was possible to stop putting it in when they made up the sushi in the morning. He said he would look into it and he did! Very happy to see that it was so easy to make a small change. A thank you card is in the post to them …
These personal actions are all small, I know. But it is more about individuals taking responsibility for their own usage of plastic, being consciously aware of what we ‘need’, use and can avoid. It is about what we all can do so easily to start turning the tide on our habits of consumption and waste. When everyone mindlessly uses so much disposable plastic we get phenomenal amounts of waste. When people start refusing cutlery, unnecessary packaging, over packaging, water bottles, plastic bags, straws, coffee cups … this mountain of waste will start to recede. We won’t see it littering our beaches and our streets and and we will feel good that we are changing our habits so easily. It is all small steps but these small steps will take us somewhere better.
Happy New Year to you and I hope all our good new habits will continue through this year and the next.