Name: Angus Ho Hon-wai Age: 32 Occupation: executive director of The Greeners
Young Post: What made you become a full-time environmental activist?
Ho: I joined a summer camp organised by Friends of the Earth in Form Five. Instead of discussing environmental theories like carbon-dioxide emissions, the organisers asked us to think about the relationship between humans and nature and our obligations to the planet.
This intrigued me a lot and I've been interested in environmental issues ever since.
After graduating from university, I worked for many non-governmental organisations devoted to environmental protection.
In 1994, I joined the Green Student Council [renamed The Greeners this year] and took up the post of executive director this year.
YP: What campaigns are you working on right now?
H: We have launched several projects, including a city-wide drive to cut back on the use of plastic bags by shoppers.
We successfully campaigned for a No Plastic Bag Day on the first Tuesday of every month.
Last month, we persuaded the karaoke chain California Red to implement an alternative meal plan for its customers. They can pay HK$1 less for a meal with a smaller amount of rice.
This will help reduce the leftovers which end up in rubbish bins every day.
YP: What does your job entail?
H: I liaise with retailers like supermarkets and restaurants and persuade them to adopt environmental-friendly practices.
I also do lobbying on environmental laws and policies and conduct research on people's habits like how much disposable cutlery they use when dining outside. We hold press conferences and present our findings to the media.
YP: What do you think about the current state of our planet?
H: The Earth is in a desperate situation and pollution is the biggest problem.
There is a Cantonese expression - we only feel pain when a needle pricks us.
I would say Hongkongers have such an indifferent attitude towards the Earth that they do not feel anything even when pricked by a needle.
The media is full of stories about environmental disasters and this has numbed their senses.
People are too preoccupied with their comfortable lifestyle to spare a thought for our ailing planet.
YP: Why don't they pay any attention to the environment?
H: The prevailing materialistic culture is to blame. Living in an affluent society, many Hongkongers are obsessed with things they don't actually need.
For example, they buy new clothes which they seldom wear and change their mobile phones every six months.
All these wasteful habits put pressure on our fast-shrinking landfills.
YP: Does The Greeners advocate radical tactics, such as hunger strikes and noisy protests, used by heritage activists?
H: We use both radical and soft approaches. Signature campaigns are always on our agenda but sometimes tougher action has to be taken. In 2005, we blocked the entrance of PARKnSHOP in Festival Walk to persuade them to join our anti-plastic bag campaign.
YP: Do you think the government has done enough on environmental protection?
H: No. Our government puts development and business interests above conservation. Like most commercial organisations in Hong Kong, its top priority is to make money. Hong Kong lags behind western nations in adopting environmental-friendly policies.