Bright (and not-so-bright) ideas help 3,100 households cut power usage

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 May, 2009, 12:00am

More than 3,100 Hong Kong households took up a green challenge to change their lifestyles and use less electricity, resulting in an average 23 per cent drop in usage.

Green group WWF organised the power-saving '$3,600 Low Carbon Challenge' to reduce people's carbon footprints.

The five-month competition, which ran from September to January, attracted more than 3,100 families and individuals who wanted to challenge themselves to use less electricity. One winning family managed to use 40 per cent less electricity than the average of all the participants. A woman who grows her own skincare product and a man who unplugs unnecessary light bulbs in his home were also winners.

Kam Hoi-yan, 31, a garment merchandiser, said she had avoided wastage since she was young. 'I know that natural resources exist for a reason. Therefore, I always use a single bucket of water several times for different functions.'

She said she turns off lights when not needed, uses compact fluorescent lighting, and only uses air-conditioning a few times a year.

Living on Lamma Island, she uses a bicycle to get around. Nature's breeze is both her hairdryer and clothes dryer. She uses water from a dehumidifier to flush her toilet and water her flowers.

Women tend to have a soft spot for skincare products, usually made from various chemicals. Not Ms Kam. She grows aloe vera plants and uses the natural contents of their succulent leaves.

'It is not difficult at all. Soil and water is what we need. Water them every five to seven days.

'People use lots of energy for their convenience. However, the speed at which we are consuming the Earth has been too fast over the past 10 years. I think we should be more humble,' Ms Kam says.

'We have to do it for our next generation, otherwise, it is going to be too late.'

Jackie Chan Chak-kuen, 38, a manager at an oil company, is also doing all he can to save energy - for the sake of his five-year-old daughter, Sonia Chan Sum-yin.

Mr Chan is very conscious of lighting. 'The property builder put too much lighting in the flat. There are places for four light bulbs in the toilet, but one light bulb provides enough light. I've unplugged the other three. The design of the kitchen is the same. I unplugged the other two bulbs as one makes it light enough.'

He is keen to share his green tips with his daughter. 'We do not buy too many toys for her. We will ask for second-hand school uniforms, as children grow really fast. I always take her to rural areas to get a feel for nature.'

Mr Chan's technique seems to be working well - she would rather play with her father than with some plastic toy. Sonia always asks her mother to switch off the kitchen light, even if she is out of the room for a minute.