Just this month, leading scientists from around the world released the most extensive warning yet on the risks of rising global temperatures, with the the UN warning that we have just 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe. It's a daunting thought, but there's still time to turn things around. Here are 10 ways you can help make the world a greener place:
Animal agriculture is responsible for around 18% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions globally, which is more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks, cars and all other transport put together. If you're not ready to commit to a plant-based lifestyle, start small by swapping a few meals to vegetarian or vegan per week, and be more mindful of where your meat comes and how it was farmed.
Say No To Plastic
The environmental impact of plastic has been a hot topic for the last two or so years, and companies and individuals have taken great strides to reduce consumption. To put it in numbers, some eight million tonnes of plastic enter rivers and oceans each year, drastically threatening the planet’s freshwater and marine ecosystems. But with so many innovative alternatives, from stylish bento boxes and bottles to zero-waste beauty products, there really is no excuse to not cut out single-use plastics for good.
Follow The Leaders
There are countless eco-warriors here in Hong Kong (and elsewhere, of course) who are passionate about saving the planet, whether it’s protecting Malaysia’s endangered tigers, establishing eco-focused political parties or investing billions of dollars in clean-energy initiatives. Stay up to date with their latest projects and developments to see how you, too, can get involved and play your part in creating a greener world.
Walk The Walk
And we mean this literally. Hong Kong is such a great walking city, so now that the weather's cooling down, take advantage and walk rather than take a cab, Uber or bus. It's a great way to keep active and shed a few extra calories while enjoying Hong Kong and cutting down on carbon emissions. Environmentalist Markus Shaw, who founded Walk DVRC—a non-governmental organisation that plans to revitalise Des Voeux Road Central to become more pedestrian friendly—says, "This would result in an immediate reduction in air pollution and an improved walking experience, making the whole area much more pleasant for visitors and those working there."
Just because you're on holiday doesn't mean you have to put your eco-friendly ways on hold. Many of the world's most luxurious hotels and resorts are making a conscious effort to reduce waste, utilise green energy sources, support local agriculture and artisans as well as educate guests about their surrounding environment.
Few realise the dire effects of the fashion world on the environment. It's the second biggest pollutor in the world, just after the oil industry thanks to issues like untreated toxic wastewaters from textiles factories and the use of fertilisers for cotton production. So what can you do? You can start by studying green brands and supporting labels that are consciously trying to reduce environmental waste. Shopping for vintage, pre-loved pieces is another way to reduce waste; as Sarah Fung of Hula puts it, "Every pre-owned garment is one less new item bought. Buying pre-owned reduces waste, extends the life of your wardrobe and gets you more for your buck."
A Clean Beauty Regime
From using recyclable packaging to developing earth-friendly and cruelty-free formulas, natural and organic beauty products have come on in leaps and bounds. A decade ago, chemical-free products went off in a matter of days, felt greasy on the skin and were unappealingly colourless. Happily, those days are behind us—which means detoxing your beauty cabinet doesn't mean compromising on quality.
Plan An Eco Wedding
There are lots of creative ways to make your wedding eco-friendly without sacrificing style. You can start small by using e-invites rather than paper and banning single-use plastic, or commit on a larger scale by hiring caterers who make a point of using organic and local produce, as well as sustainably caught or farmed seafood and meat. If you would like to mark your special day by giving back to the community, you could suggest guests make a donation to your chosen charity in lieu of gifts, or you could make a donation—perhaps even plant a tree?—on behalf of each guest as a wedding favour.
Jewellery With A Conscience
The increasing number of high-end jewellers who are committing to only using materials—such as gold, platinum and gemstones—from ethical sources in its jewellery and watches is proof that luxury and sustainability can coexist. "Whether you’re an actor walking the red carpet or someone running a business, there’ll always be a moment when you are presented with a choice between keeping the status quo—the easy way out—or taking a more difficult but necessary route," says Caroline Scheufele, artistic director and co-president of Chopard. "We as a company could do something about it and it’s my hope that others in the industry will too.”
Life On Other Planets
This one's a little more far-fetched, and more of a long-term goal, but work is already underway to find out if - and how - humans might be able colonise the moon or Mars. Billionaires such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are heavily invested in making this a reality with their respective companies SpaceX and Blue Origin leading the way, working with the likes of Nasa to take space exploration to new heights and, perhaps ultimately, “save Earth.”