Going Plastic Free: Breaking One Habit At A Time
Last month, Banyan Workspace dedicated its social media and events to supporting Plastic Free July. This global campaign started back in 2011 with the aim of educating people on the impact that plastic has on our planet, and sharing tips, resources and ideas to help us all reduce our single-use plastic waste. From its humble beginnings in Australia, over the past decade it has inspired an estimated 326 million participants in 177 countries around the world.
Here at Banyan, we have always held sustainability as one of our core values, and strive to run a plastic free environment as much as we can. It is one of the primary reasons that many of our members have joined us since our launch in November 2019. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been constantly learning how we can run an office that is both beautiful, professional and convenient while using sustainable materials and products, so we wanted to take the opportunity to share what we’ve discovered, particularly as it specifically relates to Hong Kong.
One of our most requested provisions in the workspace is the all-important coffee. Business’s favourite beverage can be an environmental challenge, but when you get it right it’s oh so good! In our very first posts at the beginning of the month, we highlighted the importance of taking your own reusable travel cup to your favourite coffee shop, instead of adding to the 2.1 million single-use plastic cups that are thrown away in Hong Kong every day. Yes, you read that right; 2.1 million each day. We shared a couple of our favourite reusable cup brands, such as Bevigo, Lion Rock Press and (of course!) our own Banyan mug.
But also important is your choice of what goes in your cup. Different coffee and tea brands have different standards when it comes to sustainability. At our Quarry Bay workspace, we supply the local ethical brand Impact Berry, renowned not just for their great-tasting coffee, but for their incredible fair trade programme and, recently, their use of #Invisible plastic-free bags for corporate coffee bean delivery. Likewise, we support Teapigs for their plastic-free teabags and ingenious corn starch packaging bags. Most importantly, both are delicious; we’re lucky in Hong Kong not to have to choose between quality and sustainability when it comes to products.
We shared many more eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic products on our Instagram page, including toiletries, beauty products, period products and facemasks, as well as some of the fantastic shops where you can buy them locally, including Live Zero, Edgar and Feather & Bone. We also shared some information about the recycling industry here in Hong Kong and highlighted some of the best places to take your waste to ensure that it has the best chance of being recycled.
One of the highlights of the month was our screening of the award-winning documentary “The Story of Plastic”, hosted by the co-founder of local NGO Plastic Free Seas, Dana Winograd. Recently nominated for an upcoming Emmy, this searing programme explains with eye-opening clarity exactly why reducing our plastic use is so important, and we strongly recommend everyone watches it to gain a true understanding of the plastic industry’s all-pervasive impact on our planet. The screening was followed by a Q&A session with Dana, who shared news and data from Hong Kong as well as answering questions about the issues raised in the documentary.
It’s clear that, despite the obvious challenges we face as a society, there are an increasing number of initiatives here in Hong Kong that can help make it easier for everyone to reduce the amount of plastic they themselves generate. Examples include the awesome “CHOOSE: REUSE” scheme where you can borrow a reusable travel mug from participating coffee shops using a refundable deposit linked to your octopus card (super convenient!) and GREEN@COMMUNITY’s new recycling network covering 130 public collection points all over Hong Kong. The momentum is very much turning in the favour of reducing plastic usage, long may that continue.
Because what is clear from everything that we learned during Plastic Free July is that refusing and reusing for just one month of the year just isn’t enough. Breaking the convenient habits of a lifetime is incredibly difficult, but it is possible. Moving forward, there are encouraging signs of genuine shifts in public attitudes towards plastic usage, and systemic change is on the horizon. Next month, Hong Kong’s first purpose-built plastic bottle recycling facility will open in Tuen Mun, a step towards more efficient recycling capabilities. The government is also currently running a public consultation on the issue of banning disposable plastic tableware in restaurants, which we urge everyone to participate in by visiting HERE.
It’s so important to make all our voices heard, so thank you to everyone who joined us in Plastic Free July, who read our posts, participated in our online challenges and maybe got inspired to make some small changes in their life. Please continue to spread the word and “B the Change” because together we can make a difference!
Follow us on Instagram for more ideas on how you can continue to be more plastic free.