PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 12:00am

How can light pollution be reduced?

The government has acted on the problem of air and land pollution, but we cannot see what it has done to tackle light pollution. It should be more concerned about light pollution because the problem is not only related to residents who are affected, it is connected to wasted energy. The government should set up a law that advertising boards in residential areas are switched off before 10pm, otherwise the owner will be punished.

Offering HK$200 coupons is a good idea to encourage people to use energy-saving bulbs. However, it is better for the government to set up recycling points for people to exchange energy-saving light bulbs. People can dump light bulbs easily and the government can also collect them conveniently and send them to the chemical and hazardous waste treatment centre in Tsing Yi, avoiding the risk of releasing mercury from broken fluorescent bulbs.

Winnie Lam, Wing Yin Po On Commercial Association Wong Siu Ching Secondary School

As the population rises, the number of houses, buildings, factories and shopping malls does too. This infrastructure needs electricity, and light pollution can be as serious as carbon dioxide emissions.

The air we breathe and our quality of life will be affected by the generation of electricity, which emits greenhouse gases. What is very upsetting is that most of the light is unnecessary and wasted.

As long as we live on Earth, we have an obligation to protect our environment. Each person should turn off all unnecessary lights in the home. Families and schools need to educate the next generation about light pollution.

The government needs to set an example for society by installing timers on street lights and introducing laws, for example, setting a quota on street lamps and lighting decorations on buildings, which are poorly designed in terms of reducing glare at night.

Wan Ka-yan, Sha Tin

Light pollution is a serious problem in Hong Kong. It particularly affects commercial areas such as Mong Kok and Causeway Bay. But nowadays, the problem has spread to the residential area that is Tseung Kwan O.

I think government restrictions are important in that they can help to control and reduce the use of electricity.

First, they can increase the price of electricity at a particular time, for example 1am to 5am, so that people and companies will cut their use of electricity at that time. Second, they can provide education about the importance of electricity and the effect of light pollution on the public. Third, they can reward people, such as giving them supermarket coupons, if they reduce their use of electricity at night.

However, the public's consciousness is the key to reducing the problem of light pollution. The public's awareness of the need to save energy has to be raised. People can start with, for example, as simple a point as turning off the light when they go to sleep.

Tsang Lai-chun, Tsuen Wan

What do you think of the 'no plastic bag' campaign?

More than 400 million plastic bags are thrown away each year in Hong Kong. It is vital for us to change our routine.

For many Hongkongers, convenience is the most important issue. However, do plastic bags really mean convenience? I don't think so.

It seems so lazy to ask for a plastic bag when we are shopping. The fact is we should never ask for a bag but bring along our own. As citizens of the Earth, we have no right to destroy the environment. Doing so would be too selfish.

The no-plastic-bag campaign is only encouraging customers not to ask for bags. This campaign should be strictly enforced. Otherwise, it will be difficult to change our habits. Shop owners can give out paper bags instead of plastic, which takes decades or more to decompose. Alternatively, if we use recycled paper to make bags, it would be more environmentally friendly - at least it is better than plastic.

It is time for us to think about our planet, our future and our children.

Cherry Poon Cheuk-ying, Kwai Chung

What do you think of restaurant food portions?

In a Greeners Action 'Save Food Day' campaign on the first Wednesday of each month, customers can ask for a smaller portion of rice and save HK$1.

Admittedly, food waste is very serious in Hong Kong, for the following reasons.

First, Chinese people always want to save face. Second, people are afraid of being called stingy or rude for taking lots of leftovers home. Meanwhile, our landfills will fill up quickly. Therefore, saving food is important.

However, I do not agree with this campaign, even though it encourages a positive idea. HK$1 is undoubtedly not enough incentive. From the viewpoint of restaurant owners, making a smaller portion of rice may increase their workload as they may have to revise their recipes. This may increase the production costs, so some restaurants are not willing to participate.

For customers, HK$1 is not attractive enough, as Hong Kong is so affluent. Thus ordering a smaller portion of rice is not important.

Promoting civic education is more important than this campaign, although it has received positive feedback. For example, teachers should encourage students to finish their lunch boxes every day. The government should make more advertisements to draw attention to food waste.

When people know the importance of saving food, they won't need a campaign to order smaller portions of rice.

Erica Mak Sze-kei, Siu Sai Wan

On other matters ...

Newspaper articles about some Hong Kong employers physically, verbally or sexually abusing their domestic helpers have shocked me.

I have heard that some helpers are underpaid, have no days off, are not allowed to leave the home, are underfed (restricted to one meal a day with no fruit or vegetables) and have insufficient sleep.

How can these employers expect their helpers to do an excellent job if they are underpaid, depressed, malnourished and exhausted? I understand that domestic helpers are employed to work and not to enjoy themselves, but they do not deserve to be treated like slaves. They are human beings with feelings and rights.

Some employers may think it is necessary to be mean to their helpers to keep them on their toes.

But it is one thing to be firm and another to be cruel. Recruitment agencies should set up pre-hiring programmes that employers must attend to learn how to communicate with their helpers in a mature and civilised manner. The helpers' consulates should also involve themselves in these programmes to protect and advise their citizens.

Agencies should also contact helpers regularly during the course of employment to see if any problems have arisen. Disputes or differences could be settled with the agency or helper's consulate as the mediator.

Abused helpers need to have a place to go to if they wish to air grievances. If nobody steps in now, cruel employers will continue in their beastly ways.

Also, abusive employers may send the wrong message to their children by mistreating people. They may grow up to be a generation of physically, sexually and verbally abusive adults. This is not the way for society to go forward.

Jasmine Law, Sha Tin