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Changing habits on a daily basis can make a big difference in helping the Earth Day Network achieve its objectives

NGO says that more than 1 billion people worldwide have taken part in eco-friendly acts, such as buying Organic alternatives that are available in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 May, 2016, 10:20am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 May, 2016, 10:20am

Long before sustainability became a buzzword of the 21st century, global NGO Earth Day Network set about mobilising the largest environmental movement worldwide.

It started in the United States in 1970, and the latest estimates suggest that more than 1 billion people worldwide have participated in various “acts of green” organised under the Earth Day umbrella.

This might involve planting a tree (via monetary donation), cleaning up a beach, coming up with solutions, or just spreading the word. While every little bit helps, it’s not so much a one-off action, but what we do on a daily basis that can make a difference. That means changing habits, and here are some ways we can all contribute.

Buy local produce. Apart from the heavy carbon toll of transporting food from faraway places to your table, its benefits diminish along the way.  According to Earth Day Network, within three days of being picked most produce has already lost one-third of its original nutritional value. Organic alternatives are ripe for the picking at farmer’s markets held all over Hong Kong, including Island East Markets (open most Sundays at Quarry Bay), and from Ma Po Po Community Farm in Fanling, every day. Or shop online: Eat FRESH, a Hong Kong company, sources organic produce from New Territories farms and delivers it to your door.

Stop using disposable plastic. Ditch the throwaway water bottle for a far more stylish, reusable alternative – such as the sleek, glass and bamboo range from Australian Fressko (it’s vacuum-sealed, double-walled and 100 per cent chemical-free); or for patriots, the retro Hong Kong drink bottle from Eco Concepts, available at HKTDC’s Design Gallery in PMQ – and you’ll help cut down on the 300 million tonnes of plastic used to make commodities every year, clogging landfills, and littering our streets.

Reduce and reuse. Just in time for summer, Chinese men’s dress shirt brand PYE has launched its new Recycle Ready Tee. Recycling of garments is usually inefficient, the company says, as it requires the removal of embellishments such as buttons and labels, and the separation of non-compostable materials such as polyester lining. Wear this casual unisex tee in the knowledge that it’s made from 100 per cent cotton, right down to the thread and trims, “eliminating the separation process and the wastage it causes”.

Recycle your e-waste. Hongkongers love their devices – the smarter the better. But every obsolete electronic that’s incorrectly disposed of contributes to a growing mountain of e-waste, releasing hazardous materials such as lead, mercury and cadmium into the air and water. Recycle yours in a safe and responsible manner.

Track your online energy use. Our carbon footprint doesn’t only swell when we’re flying or driving: being online has energy costs, too (think electricity use, data centre and cloud storage – it all adds up). Earth Mode, a new plug-in from Google, tracks the energy used online and calculates how many trees need to be planted to offset this. It’s available free from the Chrome Store.

Give to the cause. You can always plant a tree, by a donation to NGOs. Earth Day Network’s target is 7.8 billion trees.