Images of Hong Kong beaches covered in rubbish have become a common sight on social media.
In a rare statement, the Environmental Protection Department recently said, “We suspect that the floods in mid-June on the mainland might have brought the refuse to the sea and then the refuse is brought to Hong Kong by the southwest monsoon wind and the sea currents.”
The news sent social media into mainland-bashing overdrive, with Hongkongers calling on Guangdong to help pay for the clean-up. But wander along our beaches of a morning – especially after a hot weekend and before the army of amazing cleaners have done their thankless job – and it’s obvious that not all the rubbish is washed ashore.
Rattan beach mats are left behind with plastic bottles, beer cans and packets of food arranged around spots where people once sat like a murder-scene chalk outline.
Plastic beach toys are also discarded; people seem to prefer to buy their kids a new (and cheap) set of toys each time they visit the seaside instead of taking the used set home (growing up on a beach in Australia, I had the same bucket and spade for my entire childhood).
At 6am one Monday, I came across a pair of sunglasses and a pack of playing cards that had been left behind as if their owners had just evaporated or been beamed up by aliens. Apathy seems a more likely explanation.
Please Hong Kong, stop blaming our mainland neighbours for the lap sap on our beaches and put your rubbish in one of the (many) bins provided.