With a vision to extend the “Plastic-free Map” in Hong Kong, Greenpeace has been recruiting plastic-free community teams since 2018, engaging restaurants and shops to go plastic-free from district to district. Since the second quarter of 2021, an array of activities has been launched under the #PlasticFreeNow Campaign, including “Online Co-Learning Classroom” and the 34-day offline “Plastic-free Community Workshop” series. From May 2021, Greenpeace has conducted Plastic-free Community guerilla operations on a monthly basis, reaching out to further districts of the city such as Shau Kei Wan, Cheung Chau and Yuen Long. As of July, our “Plastic-free Map” has listed over 900 shops of the city which join us to go plastic-free.
The Greenpeace “Plastic-free Map” has set an aggressive target for 2021: to fight for over 1,100 shops going plastic-free. In June, teams of “Plastic-free Hunt” of the #PlasticFreeNow Campaign reached out to people from downtown to rural areas of the city, covering the highly populated outlying island, Cheung Chau!
Figures of the Hunt at a Glance
- Date: June 27, 2021
- Members: 5 teams, comprising 22 passionate Plastic-free Community Team volunteers including Cheung Chau residents (kaifong), and 8 Greenpeace staff members
- In 1 afternoon, we successfully engaged 9 top level plastic-free shops which eliminate the use of plastics or offer plastic-free discounts (white label)
- 39 second level plastic-free shops which avoid provision of disposable plastic tableware or encourage customers to bring their own tableware or containers (blue label)
- A total of 48 shops pinned on the Greenpeace “Plastic-free Map”.
The Cheung Chau Team of the Hunt
Thanks to all volunteers for their passion and devotion. Sharing the same vision, the Plastic-free Hunt is more than a rise of shop number and geographical expansion of the Campaign. Bearing a mission to spread the plastic-free initiative to a greater scope of the community, the essence of the Hunt sticks to its humanity values to seed the idea that going plastic-free can be a daily practice which requires joint efforts of every individual in the community. In particular, we would like to express our gratitude to everyone and the following plastic-free community team members, for their time, energy, trust and support. The Hunt is not for boosting one-time figures for short-time accomplishments but aims for sustainable success in the long run. The Extensive Plastic-free Hunt on Cheung Chau demonstrated the power of joint efforts. The credits go to every participant from Cheung Chau kaifong, volunteers and the Plastic-free Community Team members. Together, you make a difference!
Cheung Chau Volunteering Team Convenor: Martin
Though a comparatively new resident himself, Martin has developed a strong passion for the outlying island parallel to the residents born and grown up on Cheung Chau. Working in the education sector, Martin proactively lined up with Greenpeace to engage the next generation in its plastic-free initiative on the island.
“Cheung Chau is a close community where residents here are tightly connected to each other. Small local shops are more common here than the chained stores. This is a perfect community to promote environmental friendly initiatives, and it will work out more effectively here,” Martin stated. The achievement of the Hunt proves him right.
The Little Plastic-free Volunteers: Kin kinAiden, Chia, and YatYat
Thanks to Martin’s connection, this Plastic-free Hunt engaged many Cheung Chau residents and the next generation, including the three little girl schoolmates: Kin kinAiden, Chia, and Yat Yat, who are 10 to 11 years old. Unanimously, they reflected their concerns about the future environment: we don’t want to live in a horrible world full of rubbish in the future, and we don’t want to swim with rubbish either.
The girls shared their plastic-free practice in daily life, including bringing the used domestic plastics at the Cheung Chau Pier recycling collection point every Wednesday and back to the plastic recycling bins at their primary school. They felt upset about the unnecessary over-packaging practice at supermarkets. The little girls suggested we could bring our own bags and minimize the use of disposable plastic bags when we went shopping at the supermarkets.
Not everyone on Cheung Chau shared the same view with the girls. During the Hunt, the girls tried to promote plastic-free initiatives among shops and experienced being rejected. In spite of this, they learned to become role models and try to influence others through practical actions.
The Junior Group Leader: Aiden
The 12-year-old Aiden is an environmental activist. Engaging in different green activities has become part of his life: beach cleaning, avoiding the use of disposable bottles by bringing his own. How many teens nowadays would think about how we shall deal with plastics and wastes as he does? He concluded waste reduction from the source is of vital importance, as other alternatives were far less desirable: combustion and incineration of plastics generate toxic gases harmful to both mankind and the earth, while it costs a lot to dispose plastics at the landfill when the city suffers from land shortage.
Aiden successfully brought his younger brother into the Hunt. He “enjoyed the process promoting plastic-free”, and untiringly pitched from door to door in hope of getting more shops to go plastic-free. To him, it was hilarious to receive positive responses from the shops as it proved his efforts were paid for.
Second Level Plastic-free Shop on Cheung Chau: Mr Cheung of Ah Yan Dried Seafood
Mr Cheung is one of the shops which support the plastic-free initiatives. He runs Ah Yan Seafood at Tai Hing Tai Road on Cheung Chau as an onshore fisherman for years. Once introduced to the #PlasticFreeNow Campaign, he felt excited to take part in reducing the use of plastic bags. He also told Greenpeace frankly the majority of the customers of the shop were visitors, who seldom carried their own containers. To help them rush for the ferry schedule, they prepared pre-packaged seafood products at customers’ convenience. To take a step forward, he encouraged customers to shop with their own bags and containers by offering them special discounts and complimentary gifts, in hope of further promoting the plastic-free initiatives.
Plastic-free Top Level Shop on Cheung Chau: Mr Chan from the Phong Cách Việt Vietnamese House
While running the Phong Cách Việt Vietnamese House, Mr Chan ploughs back into society by offering complimentary tutorial classes to primary and secondary school students. He moved to Cheung Chau about 8 months ago, and has been educating students practical means to go green, for example, reducing the use of plastic bags. He understands not every customer feels comfortable complying to different regulations, but it is crucial to keep promoting green and encouraging customers to go plastic-free. He designed menus with no beef for green customers and offered 10% off for take-away orders in self-brought containers.
Experienced Plastic-free Community Team member: Macy
Among 22 members of the Hunt, Macy, a good partner of Greenpeace, joined it the third time. She mentioned the elderly used to prepare food in surplus for seasonal meal gathering by tradition, and it would be time she chipped in to help reduce wastes by packing the food remains up with her containers. By doing so, she could avoid potential disputes with the senior while insisting on the green practice. As a mother herself, Macy uses second-handed cloth to make her own bags and clothes. Her daughter, in the first grade of senior high school, looks up to Macy as a role model and develops a habit to reckon her shopping needs. The bag she is using now was repaired with her own hands 3 times over 6 years.
Moving towards 1,100 Plastic-free Shops and the Zero Plastic City Target – With you, it is possible!
The 5 teams of the Hunt helped add close to 50 Cheung Chau plastic-free shops on the Greenpeace “Plastic-free Map” in hours. We feel thankful for the support from the participating Cheung Chau residents, without whom this Extensive Plastic-free Hunt would not be a great success.
Martin summarized the “3 Major Effects” of this Hunt:
Blue and white plastic-free labels are practical and objective indicators which help customers identify the plastic-free shops in the community, especially the appealing white label that illustrates discounts for green initiatives.
Not every shop joins the plastic-free initiative, and the team understands it takes time to influence others to go plastic-free. The Hunt helped arouse awareness of the plastic pollution issue in the community, and ignited the touch for passing the message from one individual to another.
Kids are highly immersed in the Hunt, with first person experience for promoting the plastic-free initiatives. Through this Hunt, the plastic-free concept has been seeded in them, pending the day the green power blossoms and grows more extensively in the community.
In 2016, Greenpeace kicked off the #PlasticFreeNow campaign. In 2021, the Greenpeace issued “Plastic-free Community” website in April, to favor environmental-caring friends to treasure-hunt plastic-free shops on the Greenpeace “Plastic-free Map”, access real-time data and the progress of the #PlasticFreeNow Campaign in the city, and news about our latest activities. Join us with your friends and family in the Plastic-free Guerrilla Operation Group and the Plastic-free Hunt, and help outreach the community for going plastic-free in the city!
Simultaneously, Greenpeace has been following up public consultation on the Regulation of Disposable Plastic Tableware recently launched by The Environmental Protection Department. The Consultation is the fruit of our fight to address plastic pollution concerns for the past years. To recap, in 2017, Greenpeace urged McDonald’s, a leading fast food restaurant, to stop using disposable plastic tableware; and a year later, the restaurant announced its elimination of foam plastic cups and launched its “No Straw Day” campaign. In 2018, we extended our target to 8 large local fast food and beverage chains, and successfully won support from KFC, Maxim’s MX, Pacific Coffee, Café de Coral, and Fairwood, which imposed their plastic-free measures to various extents. (Extensive Reading: How Greenpeace is pushing Hong Kong to go #PlasticFreeNow)
Greenpeace would follow up this public consultation closely. Please stay tuned with us.