Monday, 17 January 2011

Fact of the Day: HK People Live Beyond their Means

Time to cut Hong Kong's carbon footprint now!

We knew that in general Hong Kong people are living the ultimate consumer lifestyles. They can buy cheap fashions, order take out, and almost all their food and goods (name brands) are imported.
And now the WWF has measured the city's consumption rates and its latest report called the Hong Kong Ecological Footprint Report 2010 says people here are living way beyond the Earth's limits. The report says that if all the people in the world lived a lifestyle similar to those in Hong Kong, we would require more than two earths -- 2.2 of them to be exact.

Hong Kong has the 45th largest ecological footprint per person compared to 150 countries with populations larger than 1 million people in 2007.

The city's carbon footprint makes up 60 percent of its total ecological footprint; only 26 percent of it is from emissions, which means the rest come from imported goods.
The report says a Hong Kong person uses 86kg of paper a year, and eats about 30.3kg of beef annually, up from 15kg in 2007. This is more than seven times the amount consumed on the mainland and almost double that of the European Union, according to the WWF report that used United States figures.
Seafood consumption is 62kg per person in Hong Kong, the third highest in Asia, while as much as 90 percent of seafood is imported from more than 150 countries.
It's shocking to see the dramatic rise in beef consumption (the growing number of steakhouses is a case in point) and the report adds Hong Kong people are eating seafood that aren't from sustainable resources. Does this include shark's fin?

And where does all that paper consumption come from? Newspapers? Textbooks? Toilet paper?
The WWF admits that Hong Kong would always be an "ecological debtor", that it would always need more resources than the land and sea mass can sustain, due to its dependence on imports.
But on the other hand this should be a wake-up call to Hong Kong people that the lifestyle of its people cannot carry on like this -- it has to be significantly reduced.
While I am no eco-warrior myself, I do see lots of people (Chinese and expats) wasting a lot of things, from letting the water run while brushing their teeth or rubbing their hands with soap, and using more than one paper towel when wiping their hands dry. Don't even get me started on not recycling and separating garbage.
The other day I listened to a Freakanomics podcast talking about waste management. Some American cities have adopted a pay as you trash system where the more garbage you want to get rid of, you have to pay more. Makes sense doesn't it? The end result saw a marked decrease in what went into the landfill and was recycled. It affected their consumer choices.

So how could this system be adopted in Hong Kong where the majority of people live in high rises? This is for the government to figure out -- and it needs to do so fast.

We can't continue living this way.

And by the way -- mark your calendars, folks. Earth Hour this year will be on March 26 at 8:30pm. Details at

1 comment:

  1. need public awareness of balance in the eco -system.
    public education of frugality in life , modest in life style will help waste our resources.