When it rains, umbrella bags are quickly distributed and end up in the trash
All this rain in Hong Kong this summer has led to green groups to estimate how many of those plastic umbrella sleeves are distributed everyday, and they have come up with the number of 14 million from June to September.
According to Greeners Action, around 90 percent of the 53 shopping malls, commercial buildings, and government facilities around town distributed the plastic covers during the rain because they wanted to keep the floors dry and prevent people from slipping.
The environmental group calculated on average 288 of these long narrow plastic bags were given out every 45 minutes. Around 7 percent of the venues had staff specifically handing out the bags even if tenants or shoppers didn't want them.
"People use these bags only when they enter the property and discard them when they leave. Time of use is short but the waste they generate is serious," says Greeners Action assistant project manager Yip Chui-man.
"Whether it's the property [management] or the public, both sides need to take a further step and reduce the use of these bags."
Yip said the buildings could either have umbrella racks, floor mats, or recycling bins available, or even use a different floor material to prevent slipping.
The last point is definitely true. Landlords like to have shiny floors, but they are the hardest to maintain. A lot of manpower is used to clean them, especially marble floors and polish them. Why not be practical and safe by using alternative floor materials?
When it comes to these umbrella covers, there is pretty much no choice but to use them especially when building staff are standing by and expecting you to use them. In this case I use them and keep the bag until I get home... but then what? It still ends up in the trash.
There has to be another way to deal with this situation -- to balance out the need to keep floors relatively dry and concerns about the environment...