An Interview with Hannah Chung
Hannah Chung is a Business Development Executive at Green Monday, a consultant at Foodie Group, but recently found fame through her Instagram posts documenting “The Zero waste challenge”.
For the last year, Hannah has been on a zero waste challenge and personal quest to change people’s mindset on the current problems with waste, by building a culture of conscious consumerism. Her posts illustrate the ups and downs of reducing her waste in a highly consumerist Hong Kong.
Q. How did you come up with the idea of the zero waste challenge? How do you evaluate your challenge so far?
A. Hong Kong’s waste problem far surpasses the infrastructures put in place to manage it. Compared to my home city of London, there are no clear recycling rules or transparency as to where the recyclables end up, and I haven’t seen government support to encourage individuals and businesses to separate waste effectively. I started the challenge because I personally wanted to see a change in the city I was living in. So far, I’ve met some wonderfully inspiring people along the way, who share my same vision and I have been able to drastically reduce the waste I produce from making a few simple changes to my lifestyle.
Q. How did this challenge impact your other areas of life? And if this is the case, how did it expand your expertise and skills as a professional?
A. The impact from the challenge so far has been positive. From this experience, I’ve been able to spread the word on being a conscious consumer through regular columns on afoodieworld.com and thecloseteur.com, along with having the opportunity to create events such as The Food’s Future Summit, a one-day event focusing on agriculture, sustainability and waste. I’ve also had the pleasure of speaking at schools and zero waste focused events all of which have helped spread the word. With the aim originally of understanding whether zero waste can actually be possible in Hong Kong, I have have learned more about waste management and the devastating effects of waste ending up in landfills and the ocean, which in turn has made me even more passionate to inform more people on how we need make changes.
Q. Many HK zero wasters criticise the Government for the lack of initiatives and action. If you were a Gov official, what would be your strategy in reducing HK waste? And what would be the first 5 steps?
A. There are many obvious things to start with: Separate bins for each residential building with enforcements on separation of waste is one of them. There are countries we can be influenced by. My family in London has a separate bin for food waste, paper, glass, metal and plastic recycling. In Japan, your recycling will not be collected if items have been put in the wrong bin. A ban on polystyrene, the worst offender in terms of ocean pollution, or a ban on plastic cutlery and plates are ideas we can take from California and France. Subsidies for recycling plants will make recycling a viable business to run and encourage more people to collect recyclables. I’d also like to see higher charges on plastic bags being used subsidies for companies providing alternatives such as cloth bags.
Q. What are your plans for the future? How do you see yourself in a couple of years?
A. I see myself pushing the message further, spreading the word and creating more partnerships in order to cultivate a movement into empowering people to make their own changes. For the day to day, I am constantly searching for alternatives that are realistic, affordable and realistic. Hopefully in two year’s time, we will have more of those alternatives.
Follow Hannah’s journey here.