The hills are alive.
A stone’s throw away from Hong Kong Island lies an even bigger island, yet contains housing far less than the prior. A mountainous land where its dwellers start their day by running trails, walking on the beach, and commute by ferries. I know, it doesn’t sound like the neon striking, ad hoc Hong Kong at all. This is Lantau Island. For those of us who live here, we choose to live to a different rhythm. We take the time to cultivate the kind of life we see ourselves living, build the kind of community we’d like to join. When it comes to a low waste lifestyle, it is a choice a couple of us are willing to make. For where else on the island will our rubbish go?
We can’t deny that community makes such a difference. Among us, there are passionate residents who encourage and inspire. There are also those of us who try our best to do our parts. Me and my partner recently embarked on the journey to zero waste. Much like the island’s relaxed and slow vibe, our zero waste household is taking its time to take shape, day by day.
Game changer – Composting
This is a major step that really pushes us towards zero waste. We joined the programme run by Outlying Island Women Association (OIWA) along with a bunch of other participants living in Mui Wo. All we have to do is put our food scraps in containers provided, and take it to our assigned collection point. They process all the food scraps collected, turning them into fertiliser for local farms. Our friend from Dragontail Farm told us that some restaurants compost coffee grinds and eggshells, then pass it to them.
Trial and error
Getting veggies not wrapped in packaging is the easier part. We can get them from wet market or freshly picked from organic farms. The challenging part will be shopping for meat. There is one butcher at the only wet market, the other option would be going to Tung Chung. Most residents resort to packaged meat at local supermarkets or frozen meat place. Inevitably, some of them come in polyfoam trays which are not recyclable around the island.
Shopping in bulk is not as easy. Village Bakery is happy to fill your jars, but to be honest that is not their priority at the moment. If you speak Cantonese, give the local Chinese medicine clinic a go.They have mung beans, barley, almonds etc. but varieties are restricted to common local ingredients.
Without fail, every evening at around 8pm we bump into neighbours also on their way to the recycling bins. There are recycling bins in each villages, and glass recycling on the way to the pier. However, unlike some residential complexes, proper disposal of batteries and light bulbs seem to be an issue. Our best effort yet, has to be the circulating second-hand items on FB groups or yard sale. There are flea markets every once in a while organised by OIWA, local churches and shop owners. If not, you can always find gems on the sidewalk.
What motivates us
A few months back when there were two consecutive typhoons hitting the coast, a lot of junk got washed up on the beach. Lantau Grocer organised a beach clean up at Cheung Sha, and to those who turned up they offered food and beverages in return.Keilem Ng, challenged herself to a 30 days beach clean up and encouraged fellow Lantau-ers to join her. If you have been to a beach clean up, you will understand: at one point you must have felt as if your effort is futile, even after filling bags after bags of rubbish. We see the need for restoration but most importantly, a change.
It’s very visual for us, something doesn’t sit right if we see a problem day in and day out and not do something about it. Jenny Quinton of Ark Eden, set out to juxtapose our high-rise city with nature of Hong Kong as backdrop, running workshops to communicate the importance of a balanced ecosystem. Those of us who choose to live on Lantau Island, we see it as possibilities for a sustainable lifestyle and would like to keep it that way. If there’s going to be any change to Lantau in the future, it will be solely due to the hard work of its residents and end result will only become greener and greener.
Zero Waste Mui Wo Checklist:
- OIWA Compost scheme: https://www.facebook.com/OIWAAnne/
- Dragontail Farm: https://www.facebook.com/dragontail.lantau/
- Village Bakery: https://www.facebook.com/villagebakerylantau/
- Lantau Grocer: https://www.facebook.com/LantauGrocer/
- Keilem Ng: https://www.instagram.com/keilem_ching/
- Ark Eden: https://www.facebook.com/ArkEden/
About the author:
Yee Ting is a graphic designer and writer. She writes about creative process, snuggling up at home and poking her nose into absolutely everything. She is constantly learning new ways to live an ethical lifestyle. She is based in Lantau Island, Hong Kong. You can read more of her articles on her blog and follow her on Instagram.