Opportunities going to waste

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 August, 2011, 12:00am


What with all the hand wringing about overflowing landfills and debate over incinerators, Hongkongers should own up to the fact that we create too much waste.

There's no denying it - a Norwegian study last year found Hong Kong generates more rubbish per capita than any other city - and half of it comes from households.

But hold on, here's a crazy idea: let's use more second-hand stuff.

Oh, I forgot. It's almost impossible to donate or buy used items in this city. Most of the more obvious organisations to give things to are choosy. The Oxfam outlet in Central, for example, only accepts items in excellent condition, ideally with designer labels. Right now, it's not accepting clothes at all.

Even public libraries aren't interested in your Harry Potter collection: the Central Library website says it is not accepting fiction or children's books. Hardly any places accept used furniture - and if you find one that does, you'll most likely have to hire a truck to get it there.

A helpful government website, wastereduction.gov.hk, says there are more than 190 locations in which to leave clothes for recycling. I haven't seen any. It looks as though the closest to my home is in Hollywood Road Park 'near the washroom'.

And what about buying used items? We have a handful of vintage stores but they cater more to cashed-up hipsters than the needy.

In contrast, in the United States, a charity outlet can be found every few blocks, reselling T-shirts for a dollar or two and decent coffee tables with wallet-friendly price tags - for good causes to boot.

Short of such a widespread operation, I have another idea: flea markets.