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City Weekend

The Hongkongers getting naked to create a more caring, sharing world

A growing community is stripping to its roots, discarding unnecessary packaging and promoting sustainable values that protect the environment

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 July, 2017, 3:33pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 July, 2017, 3:33pm

Hong Kong is stripping down to its roots, throwing away superfluous packaging and dropping unnecessary boundaries. The city is getting “naked”.

“Naked” as a phrase has been cropping up increasingly around Hong Kong as a method of naming businesses and campaigns. Most recently, nakedness can be found on Saturday and Sunday’s Western District “naked shopping” activity, and the opening of two new co-working spaces in Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun called “naked Hub”. What does this nakedness mean?

“We needed a simple phrase that was easy to understand and eye catching,” said Patsy Cheng Man-wah, founder of SEE Network, a conservation group.

“Shop Naked” is a community-oriented waste reduction campaign that targets shopping without packaging to ultimately reduce domestic waste in a city that had 3.7 million tons of municipal waste in 2015 – an ever-increasing figure.

“It’s like Nike’s ‘Just do it’ campaign, but we want to promote ‘just eat it’ – packaging isn’t necessary, we only need the thing itself, therefore, the word ‘naked’ came to us.”

To Cheng, “nakedness” is not a passing trend or a phase but a lifestyle of sharing and making sustainable decisions to better our world.

Given that Hong Kong has already cycled through 13 landfill sites, naked shopping is a necessary lifestyle change for the city to embark upon.

It signals a shift in attitude towards minimalism, towards getting back down to basics, to promoting community values, and to protecting the environment.

As a concept, nakedness pursues a return to what it fundamentally means to be human, uniting people in a spirit of sharing and a shedding of the superfluous additions to existence that do more harm than good to society and the environment.

One small step everyone can take is using less waste when shopping
Patsy Cheng Man-wah, SEE Network

SEE Network is hosting a naked shopping experience this weekend, which includes food tasting, workshops and selling goods in a manner that is environmentally sustainable. Vendors will not provide utensils, containers, or packaging for either the food or consumer goods that will be sold along Sai Street in Sheung Wan.

“Everyone takes a small step to make a better world,” Cheng said. “If we all join hands with this small step, it can become a huge leap, and one small step everyone can take is using less waste when shopping.”

Shanghai-based co-working operating space naked Hub will be opening its debut Hong Kong branches in August and September after the successes of its 19 branches on mainland China.

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While an environmental sustainability campaign and a business office space appear fundamentally different, they are united not only by name but also by the ethos and spirit behind the concept of naked.

Just as the naked shopping campaign aims at generating a larger change by stripping down and working as a community, naked Hub encourages its hubbers to break the ice, remove human boundaries and organically build a community.

“Naked Hub is a place for sharing, for collaborating, for innovating, and for coming together as a community,” said Deborah Negrash, naked Hub’s general manager. “It’s a platform where people can be themselves, entrepreneurs get support, and everyone can tap into their own unique talents and inspire new ideas.”

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Polygon Cafe owner Yuri Ezhkov said: “Naked for me is always achieved somewhere in the middle of the ocean, jumping into the water with no land in sight. It’s that sense of freedom and calmness.”

For Nagresh: “We all have the obligation to create beautiful change in our society. The concept getting naked is built upon is one step towards fulfilling that.”