Even minute changes to homes and lifestyles can make a world of difference to the environment. 'You are part of the solution ... to global warming,' said Yolanda Che, founder and director of Wellness Club, a consultancy which provides green audits for homes, schools and companies. Funding and incentives for making homes environmentally friendly are fairly limited in Hong Kong, particularly when compared with Europe. Green promotions by the Hong Kong government focus on repairs and making existing buildings environmentally friendly. Ms Che said other government incentives included the Hong Kong Green School Award and the Environment and Conversation Fund. Some green technologies such as solar panels, which can be used to heat water and generate electricity, are not popular in Hong Kong because of the high cost factor. However, several local companies do provide sustainable and environmentally friendly materials for building construction and renovation work. Boyd Boxshall, director of vertical plantscaping company Verte, said: 'It's [also] become more in vogue for architectural firms to focus on the sustainability of building developments and take a more eco-build approach.' Green-inspired non-governmental organisations (NGOs), although not as prolific as in Europe or the United States, were another source of advice, he said. Local NGOS that can help people who want to live green include global conservation body WWF, which operates a 'climateers' campaign, Green Power and Friends of the Earth. Ultimately, living green is about making adjustments to our lives. The green mantra of reduce, reuse, recycle and buy local is something most Hongkongers can follow. Ms Che said: 'Minimise waste such as food residues, plastic packaging, paper and cans. Make your home toxic-free - use natural ingredients, buy biodegradable cleaning and laundry supplies, and use non-toxic pest control sprays.' A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) said: 'Bring an environmentally friendly shopping bag rather than taking plastic bags each time you [make a] purchase.' Choose refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, tumble dryers and other appliances with Grade 1 Energy Efficiency Labels. Incandescent bulbs should be replaced with light-emitting diodes or other types of energy-efficient lighting. Separating waste before disposing it was an easy way to help with recycling, the EPD spokesman said. Buying drinks in returnable bottles, cutting down on takeaway food with disposable packaging and using durable tableware instead of foam containers or wooden chopsticks are good steps. '[You should also] buy fresh local food which requires little packaging, and reduces energy consumption and pollution because no long-distance transport is required,' he said. Replacing non-rechargeable batteries with rechargeable batteries is an easy step. Old rechargeable batteries can be recycled through collection points throughout Hong Kong. Recycling could be on larger scale, Mr Boxshall said. 'What would work really well in Hong Kong is a green waste collective that collects green composting waste.' Renovations or new builds provide another ideal opportunity to incorporate green living standards. Hong Kong's home layouts are fairly restricted, given the relatively small living spaces. 'New building designs and retro fits should have a bit more sensitivity towards options of using natural light and ventilation,' Mr Boxshall said. Ms Che said flat owners could install air-filtration systems that maintained indoor air quality. 'When decorating your home, use zero volatile organic compound paint, grow plants indoors and next to computers, and use window tints, blinds or curtains to shade windows and reduce heat build-up.' Hongkongers should also pay close attention to power and water usage. Mr Boxshall said many locals found it hard to get a proper sense of the cost of utilities because of heavy government subsidies. 'The population and the company providing the power [also] don't look at the costs of externalities, such as the pollution the power is causing.' Improving the insulation of rooftops and facades, via green roofs and walls, also helps keep water and power use to a minimum. Insulating buildings properly is also the cheapest and easiest way to reduce carbon emissions. Ms Che said half-flush toilets and low-flow showers and taps helped save water, while multiple socket electricity panels that turned off all electrical and television systems in one go were ideal energy savers.