Online Letters, June 13, 2017
We must get to root of waste problem in Hong Kong
About 3,000 tonnes of food waste ends up in Hong Kong’s landfills every day and they will soon be full. This is a problem that needs to be addressed and that can be alleviated with the right policies and changes of attitude.
Hongkongers take food for granted and are guilty of overconsumption. Walk around a busy restaurant and at virtually every table you will see leftovers on plates and it is really bad at events like wedding banquets. Most of the time uneaten food in restaurants is just lumped together and thrown out when some of it could be turned into meals for needy people.
It is up to the government and citizens to cut back on waste. The government could follow the example set by the Love Food Hate Waste campaign in the UK, which encourages people to use leftover food rather than throw it away. This gets to the root of the problem trying to get individuals and businesses to cut back on food waste. It is vitally important to raise levels of awareness. The government should also promote food banks so that people know where they can donate food which can be used to help people living in poverty.
If there is greater awareness then hopefully far less food waste will end up in the city’s landfills.
Hong Kong citizens need to start changing daily habits. To prevent overconsumption we should write out a list of the food that we need and know we will use before going to the shops.
In restaurants we should bring a doggy bag or some kind of reusable container so take back home what we are unable to finish on our plate. Most items of leftover food can be used to make a meal, or to make stock, preserves or jam. Rubies in the Rubble in the UK does just that, taking discarded fruit and vegetables from markets and making products like relish and jam. It is all about having a change of mindset.
It is important that we do not turn a blind eye to this serious situation in Hong Kong. Education can help change bad habits so that in the long run we can eliminate this food waste problem.
Lam Yan-wing, Yau Yat Chuen
Shoppers should only buy the food they need
People in the developed world take food for granted while so many in underdeveloped countries go hungry.
In advanced societies like Hong Kong there is never a sense of cherishing our food and few citizens appreciate just how much waste they generate.
Supermarkets put out a massive array of food, but after a few days much of it has reached its sell-by date and is then discarded, ending up dumped in landfills. There could be less waste if stores changed the way they display food.
Citizens develop wasteful habits, such as believing that having leftover food routinely on your plate is normal and that “more is good”. Consumers should be buying only what they need. We should cherish our food and avoid waste.
I do not believe the best way to deal with our waste problem is by building an incinerator or expanding landfills. The government should set food waste reduction targets and we should all try and meet them by reducing waste at source.
It is possible to take a real step forward and cut food waste if all stakeholders cooperate – the government, food manufacturers, supermarkets and all individuals in the food chain. Reducing food waste is a global concern.
Xenia Yip, Yau Yat Chuen
Celebrity culture can be harmful to youngsters
You see signs of celebrity culture in cities all over the world, including Hong Kong. In our streets on billboards you see posters of a celebrity’s latest film or album.
There is nothing wrong with youngsters liking a pop star or actor, but this can become a problem if perhaps because of peer pressure, it becomes a form of hero worship. Teenagers are still immature and therefore vulnerable and so they follow peers because they do not want to feel left out of the group. Adults obviously see things differently, recognising that these famous individuals are deep down just like the rest of us.
Actually, we are quite lucky in Hong Kong, because many celebrities, like Leon Lai Ming and Karen Mok Man-wai, are very responsible citizens and do a lot for charity. They can convey a positive message to youngsters. But some of these youngsters’ idols are not good role models and get involved in scandals, such as taking drugs.
Following some of these idols can be expensive when you buy their albums and merchandise.
As I said it is fine for young people to follow celebrities, but they have to exercise some self-control. And these famous people must recognise that they have a responsibility to be good role models to younger generations.
On balance, our celebrity culture is not a bad thing, it really boils down to how young people respond to it and do not let it take over their lives.
Jerry Lam, Hang Hau
Communication key to helping troubled teens
In recent years the suicide rate among students in Hong Kong has risen and many citizens have expressed concern about this worrying trend.
The education system is often blamed for putting too much pressure on young people. It is claimed there is a lack of communication. Students may face problems with their studies and heavy workload. They may not be clear about their career path, struggle to deal with these problems and do not know who to turn to for advice. The pressure becomes unbearable and they take their own lives.
Students need to feel they can talk freely with their teachers and parents. If the pressure is getting too much and, for example, they do not think they will get an assignment in on time, they should talk straight away to the subject teacher. As long as they can give valid reasons, the deadline could be extended. They should also feel they can talk freely to school social workers and to their parents. If they share their experiences and concerns then a solution can be found. This is better than bottling up the pressure until it becomes unbearable.
As a student I also have to face problems and pressure from my studies. However, I see them as challenges to be overcome, like the obstacles I will face later in life. When we have challenges and problems we should discuss them so that we can overcome them.
I urge young people to always try to stay positive.
Leo Ho, Tseung Kwan O
Government should take more flexible approach to street art
Some cultural events have met with a frosty reception from the authorities in Hong Kong, such as the venue Hidden Agenda which hosted indie bands before closing. It was subjected to controversial raids.
Some creative artists do struggle for recognition and acceptance in Hong Kong and that includes street artists. In some countries and cities in the West their work is celebrated, but here it is normally removed shortly after it appears. It may be painted over, even if passers-by liked it and thought it was creative.
It is also difficult for artists to find places where they can set up a studio. The government has a programme aimed a revitalising old industrial buildings and they would be perfect as artists’ studious, but many factories remain empty still waiting to be renovated. And even if artists find a place, when the initial lease ends they usually face a high rent increase which they cannot afford. The government places so much emphasis on economic development, but it should not ignore our cultural development including street art.
Art should be about more than exhibitions in large galleries paid for by a generous corporate sponsor. Ordinary people and their art should not be ignored.
Kylie Wong, Kowloon City