Government and community are more willing to tackle pollution

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 September, 2012, 2:36am

I refer to the letter by Joan Miyaoka ("Law is too lenient for litter louts", September 4).

She expresses her frustration, shared by many, with the amount of rubbish in the ocean and on Hong Kong's abundant coastlines. I would like to offer some hope with regard to public and government awareness and willingness to act.

Over the past 12 years of managing the Hong Kong Clean-up and International Coastal Clean-up Challenge, we have personally witnessed hundreds of people undergo the "light bulb moment", much as we did at our first beach clean-up, about the sheer quantity of refuse and the source of it - that is, ourselves. Comments like "I'm never buying a disposable water bottle again", are commonly heard at clean-ups.

But, as Ms Miyaoka astutely observes, it's not just about our individual actions; if left to our own devices, many of us have a tendency towards irresponsibility. Hence, our mission with the clean-up is threefold: to educate about the importance of "reduce, reuse, recycle"; to empower communities in caring for their own backyard; and, importantly, to advocate improved policies regarding waste management, littering and pollution.

Government action is a vital piece of the puzzle. Following the recent accidental plastic pellet spill, and despite media reports to the contrary, the Hong Kong government played an active and integral part in co-ordinating clean-ups and sending skilled teams out to work in tandem with green groups and community members. It has been an inspiration to see, and it has put a ball in motion and we are committed to maintaining its momentum.

Marine conservation and waste management have long been "out of sight, out of mind" issues for Hong Kong, and now both are encroaching on our daily lives in a way that is impossible to ignore.

We must look at success stories elsewhere and implement solid, sustainable and integrated solutions.

The problem in this city is human-generated and preventable - rubbish simply should not be in the oceans and country parks and on city streets.

We aim to provide a link in the solution with the Hong Kong Clean-up. It gives local communities, schools and businesses an opportunity to participate in a large-scale positive initiative and have a hands-on educational experience. The more people who take part, the better our chance of effecting widespread behavioural change.

We urge readers to visit our website and sign up to this year's clean-up, which starts next weekend.

Nissa Marion and Lisa Christensen, co-founders, Hong Kong Cleanup



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