Your Voice: how Hong Kong should tackle wasteful plastic packaging, the brain drain on city’s schools, and more

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  • One student proposes solutions for how the government can reduce plastic waste in the city’s supermarkets
  • Other readers share their thoughts on education’s emigration problems, the wild boar issue, and the stress students face
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Fruits and vegetables in Hong Kong supermarkets are wrapped in way too much plastic, and it is horrible for the environment. Photo: Tory Ho

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Plastic invasion – excessive packaging in supermarkets

Marcus Leung Cheuk-ming, St Mark’s School

Looking at vegetables and fruit with layers of plastic wrapping at the supermarket, I have asked, “Why is there so much plastic?” This may be a common question children ask their parents at the supermarket. In fact, it reflects a serious issue in Hong Kong, and not enough people are paying attention.

People are keen on buying produce with plastic packaging possibly because they think it is cleaner or more high-end. Therefore, supermarkets continue packaging their products in this way.

According to a joint statement from four green groups earlier this month – Green Power, Greenpeace, Green Earth and Greeners Action – Hong Kong sold nearly 200 million packs of food last year with enough plastic wrapping to circle the Earth twice.

Excessive plastic packaging is especially common in Hong Kong’s supermarkets. Photo: Edward Wong

Plastic waste harms the environment. For instance, if animals consume it, they may hurt themselves or even die, which will then affect our food supply.

To protect the ecosystem and ourselves, the government should set up laws that limit disposable plastic packaging. The police should cooperate with the Environment Bureau to enforce these laws. The Environment Bureau should also set up reward schemes for supermarket chains that create less plastic waste.

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Companies must also move towards zero plastic packaging. Customers ought to bring their own containers to buy dry goods like nuts and rice. By encouraging this habit, the demand for plastic packaging can be reduced. The government should also offer financial support to those shops.

As human beings, we have the responsibility to protect the natural environment. With laws, good enforcement, reward schemes and clear goals, there will be a beam of hope for us to save the world.

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How to address the future of Hong Kong education

Angus Kong, Ying Wa College

I am writing in response to Hong Kong’s secondary schools lose 4,500 students and 1,000 teachers in single year (South China Morning Post, December 1).

This has sounded the alarm for our education system, and the government should take immediate action. It has clearly been caused by the 2019 social unrest and recent implementation of the National Security Law.

There is no way for the government to solve the current situation except by gaining back the trust of the people. However, there are still some steps the government can take to reduce the impact of this emigration drain.

As people leave Hong Kong, the city’s schools are facing high numbers of students and teachers who are leaving. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

The Education Bureau could start reducing the number of classes in schools, or if possible, closing some of the schools with a low number of students. This would centralise the government’s resources to be used in a more cost-effective manner.

Moreover, the government should encourage more people to join the education sector by subsidising related university courses. This can create experienced teachers to replace the ones leaving Hong Kong.

Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. The government must face the current brain drain in our education system to protect the future of this city.

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What to do if you see a wild boar

Chan Yuen-tung, Tsuen Wan Government Secondary School

Like many other wild animals, wild boars are strong and fast. But they will only attack if they are cornered or if they feel threatened. Wild boar attacks on people are rare. However, wild boars are common in Hong Kong, especially in countryside areas.

Hong Kong authorities have recently decided to capture and put down wild boars roaming urban areas after a police officer was bitten by one.

Wild boars only attack if they feel threatened. Photo: Edmond So

What should we do if we see a wild boar? Although we might be scared, we should keep calm, stay away and leave them undisturbed.

Wild pigs are wary of human contact. However, if provoked or threatened, they may become aggressive, so we should be careful when we see them.

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Help Hong Kong’s stressed and depressed students

Liang Tsz-to, Tsuen Wan Government Secondary School

Nearly all Hong Kong students suffer from stress or depression because of school.

When exams are approaching, teachers give students a large amount of material and notes for revisions. They only get a few days to revise everything. Some students might be too strict with themselves, and they might worry that their parents will scold them if they do poorly.

Most schools divide students into elite classes and regular classes. Elite students receive better resources, which is unfair to normal students. This system can undermine students’ confidence. If they cannot join the elite classes, they might feel like they are rubbish, which can cause more anxiety.

Students in Hong Kong are often quite stressed by the Diploma of Secondary Education exams. Photo: Sam Tsang

Schools should abolish the elite system and make education fair for all students. Teachers should teach lessons more quickly to ensure students have enough time to study. Parents should not criticise and pressure their children too much. Instead, they need to give support and encouragement.

Students can address this problem by staying upbeat and asking for help when they struggle with their studies. They can also find ways to relax by reading a book or having a warming cup of tea.

I have felt fatigued, insecure and depressed – I wanted to give up. But I turned to my favourite hobby and watched an inspirational film called Good Will Hunting (1997). This motivated me to get through the problems I was facing.

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