To celebrate the Greenpeace Hong Kong office’s 20th birthday this year we launched an important and fresh new campaign aimed at improving quality of life. It’s a new concept in the field of environmental campaigning.

It’s called the Good Life.

What does the good life mean to you? Well, some people might say having more, making life convenient and enjoying comforts make up the good life.

But, let’s stop and think about that a bit.

Having more possessions – say lots of new clothes and a new smartphone every year -- such excessive consumption is a key driver of toxic waste pollution and climate change. Making life convenient – say getting your takeaway lunch in a plastic box with disposable utensils everyday because it’s “easy” - we’ve all used such services – generates enormous plastic waste that clogs up our oceans and kills and maims marine life. Greater comforts – such as driving to the shops or taking taxis instead of hopping on public transport or, even better, cycling – pollutes our air and harms our health.

Our Good Life project is about changing mindsets. To make everyone want a good life but also a green life. Each one of us has the power to change and do good for the planet through simple changes in our everyday actions and attitudes.

We took one of our first Good Life actions on 30 September in Hong Kong, when we opened the region’s first solar-powered Greenpeace Café at the heritage site, the Jao Tsung-I Academy, hosts of our ‘Good Life Market’. We used 100% clean energy to make coffee, vegan ice cream and fruit juices.

The café was just one example of how small changes can make a world of difference, and aimed to encourage others to make similarly small but significant changes -- not just on a special market day, but every day.

It could be something a simple as saying to yourself that you will stop using plastic straws, or start having meat-free days, or shopping for funky second-hand clothes rather than always buying new items. Whatever it is, it should make you feel good because it is good for the planet too.

That’s what our solar-powered Greenpeace Café was all about: Questioning assumptions we have about our daily lives. Take these for a start:

  • Is it really that inconvenient to stop using disposable plastic?
  • Does delicious ice cream really need to be made with milk?
  • Can the sun really make a decent cup of coffee?

Answering those questions in order: “no,” “no,” and a resounding “yes!”

Only reusable cups were used for our coffee and juices.

And our scrumptious vegan ice-cream was made with healthy and creamy almond or coconut milk. Don’t just take our word for it. Hong Kong Secretary for the Environment, Wong Kam-sing, stopped by and enjoyed his!

And we did indeed make a wickedly good brew – and everything else – with just the energy from the sun: The Greenpeace Solar Café was equipped with an ice cream machine, a juicer, a coffee maker and other electrical appliances and they all worked a treat with a 16-panel mobile solar power supply. The maximum capacity was 1,600W, the same as a pretty hefty toaster oven.

Who says Hong Kong has no potential to use solar power? With its sunny skies, solar panels can be placed on rooftops, or any open space and be used to generate your own power. With the right policy support from government, you and I can own our own energy! Now, that really is the good life.