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Meet the Hong Kongers who make their lives more eco-friendly

Reporters: Chester Chan, Chloe Kwan, Stanley Lam

Editors: Wing Chan, Zoe Lai

Words like ‘green’, ‘sustainable’, ‘renewable’ and ‘eco-friendly’ seem to be buzzwords these days, and the phrase ‘green living’ is used to sell everything from housing developments to cleaning products. But it is one thing to talk the talk and another to walk the walk.

Meet Law Yip-man, who decided to drastically change the way he lives after taking a course promoting sustainable living held by a well-known environmentalists who goes by the name ‘Wild Man’ (野人). Law moved to rural Lau Fau Shan to live a basic life, closer to nature. He makes his own enzyme detergent and uses corn-cobs to clean his dishes, collects and composts food waste and uses firewood to boil soup. He also promotes the reduction of waste by using and helping to distribute leftover food in the community.

Retired civil servant Steven (who does not want to disclose his full name) enjoys more ‘mod cons’ in his home than Law does. But he has made an effort to be more environmentally friendly by installing solar panels on his roof. The panels supply electricity to heat the water in his house. While the set-up saves commercially produced energy, it doesn’t save Steven any money. He says solar electricity is not cost effective in Hong Kong, where electricity is relatively cheap. It also cannot produce enough energy to power utilities like air conditioners. This means there is little incentive for Hong Kong people to invest in the technology in their homes.

Even if that is the case, blogger Lam Lai-shan says ordinary people can still make efforts to be more environmentally responsible in different aspects of everyday life. Lam, who is a homemaker, says not much money is needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Lam makes her own household products, for instance, she makes soaps from waste oil and enzyme detergents. She also uses eco-friendly cleaning products and washing powders like camellia seed powder, she also has a workshop room where she makes DIY products, upcycles old clothes into shopping bags and dyes clothes with vegetable dyes. Lam also shuns chain stores and shops in small local shops.

She promotes a green lifestyle through her blog, where she is known as ‘Green Mama’ and shares tips on green living. Lam also organises various activities, such as constructing a ‘green map’ showing the locations of recyclers, veggie cafes, and other places of interest for those who want to spread the idea of green living.

“It’s just a small group that practises [green lifestyles], and the public thinks it can only be done by green activists and not ordinary citizens. [But] everyone can do it,” says Lam.