People often take an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to sustainability, believing that small efforts are futile if they can’t convert to an entirely zero waste lifestyle. The reality is that every effort counts and your actions contribute to make a difference. Here is our guide on how to navigate the waters of sustainability and make an impact through small changes and easily implemented habits.
Eat more plant-based
Clockwise from top left: Plant-based cuisine from Nectar, Avobar, Lock Cha Tea House, MANA and Confusion Kitchen
If you don’t want to make the permanent swap to being vegan, vegetarian or even pescatarian then by all means – don’t. However, you can still do your part for the environment by opting for a plant-based meal now and then, with delightfully moreish alternatives available that will have you forgetting they were made from plants in the first place.
Hong Kong has a surprising number of plant-based options, from quick cafe stops to local dim sum joints and even a twelve-course tasting menu. Mana serves up Middle-Eastern style fare in the form of wraps and salads, with sustainable sourcing and recycling at the heart of everything that they do. If you are looking for something slightly more substantial, Confusion Kitchen offers an indulgent selection of burgers made using Beyond Meat patties, with a convincing assortment of plant-based toppings including alternative “cheese” and “mayo”. For avocado aficionados, Avobar at K11 MUSEA dishes up all things avocado for satisfying vegetarian options that will take you through brunch and beyond. Dim sum lovers rejoice, for Pure Veggie House and LockCha Tea House offer vegetarian alternatives to dim sum classics including barbecue pork buns (叉燒包), shark fin soup (魚翅湯) and pork soup dumplings (小籠包). If it’s fine dining you’re after, Ma… And The Seeds of Life offers delightful tasting menus serving upscale vegan French cuisine. Experience gastronomically intriguing charcuterie and “cheese” boards – all made from plants.
Say no to single use plastics! It requires minimal effort to carry your own reusable alternatives, and your refusal of disposable plastics also indicates to businesses how they can do their part. Baggu are reusable totes that come in a plethora of stylish designs and bright patterns. Incredibly lightweight yet strong, these sturdy bags come with their own compact pouch for easy transportation. Consider bringing a metal straw with you as you go about your day – Live Zero offers an extensive selection, including wider straws for bubble tea or a thicker smoothie. If you are partial to take out or simply never seem to finish your food, reusable containers can also come in handy, with a number of restaurants (including Mana) offering discounts to customers that bring their own containers. With increasing numbers of water refill points cropping up across the city, carry your own reusable water bottle and look stylish while doing so, with a Virgil Abloh x Evian bottle.
Shop zero-waste household goods
If you’re looking for other ways to cut down on plastics and excessive packaging, explore zero-waste stores for all of your grocery and household needs. Slowood carries an extensive array of environmentally friendly goods from over 100 international and local brands. There are also refill stations there for bringing your own container and purchasing groceries in bulk, such as rice, spices, etc. Edgar presents similar offerings, but with even more choice in their bulk grocery section, with a selection of nuts and freeze-dried fruits and veg for your snacking pleasures. If you are looking for sustainable and vegan skincare and makeup, Coconut Matter is a Hong Kong-based beauty brand creating zero waste, fair trade, vegan and cruelty free products from deodorant to body butters and lipsticks.
Support sustainable fashion brands
From L to R: YanYan cardigan; HK$2,309, YanYan skirt; HK$2,544, Stella McCartney sunglasses; HK$1,277, Melissa Joy Manning earrings; HK$1,840, Kayu bag; HK$2,283.78, Lisa Says Gah pouch; HK$360.14, Maggie Marilyn wrap top; HK$3,425, Reformation skirt; HK$790, Veja sneakers; HK$1,300, Naturae Sacra bag; HK$4,745, Reformation dress; HK$2,010, Leigh Miller necklace; HK$1,330, Nagnata turtleneck; HK$2,363, Marine Serre shorts; HK$2,700, Melissa Joy Manning earrings; HK$2,430, Lisa Says Gah purse; HK$1,330.95, Stella McCartney heels; HK$3,110, Melissa Joy Manning ring; HK$3,260
Sustainable brands are often incredibly durable in quality on top of carrying unique designs that are difficult to find elsewhere. YanYan are a design duo that combine contemporary patterns and silhouettes with traditional Chinese dress in the form of mandarin collars and frog-button closures. The yarn they use is leftover from Hong Kong factories, and upcycled to create bold yet feminine pieces. Another sustainable fashion brand to be reckoned with is The R Collective. Launched by Christina Dean, the founder and CEO of environmental NGO Redress, The R Collective takes the fabrics upcycled by Redress to create and sell clothes for which the profits are then funded back into Redress to further combat textile waste. Their pieces are versatile and can be worn in a variety of different ways, made with beautifully draped and fluid fabric. Paris-based Marine Serre creates futuristic collections that are eco-conscious and often upcycled, known for her ubiquitous moon pattern and conspicuous reflective fabrics. Then there’s much-loved Reformation, the LA-based brand known for their effortless yet feminine silhouettes. Their figure flattering fits accommodate a variety of sizes and body types, and their dreamy patterns and flirty pieces are seen on celebrities from Kendall Jenner to Emily Ratajkowski.
Shop second-hand designer fashion
From L to R: Burberry skirt; HK$646.52, Saint Laurent shearling coat; HK$7327.17, Celine knot earrings; HK$2813.63, Sergio Rossi pumps; HK$1,000, Dior saddle bag; HK$19,000, Saint Laurent jacket; HK$4831.1, Gucci bag; HK$2,225.14, Issey Miyake hat; HK$1,000, Chanel necklace; HK$3,400, Gucci belt bag; HK$7457.45, Gucci skirt; HK$5112.25, Prada sunglasses; HK$1,200
Although second-hand clothing took some time for Asia to get accustomed to, sales have been accelerating as more people realise the discoveries to be made. Take White Whale Vintage, for example. Small and unassuming, this well-curated thrift store sees each item individually selected from Europe and Japan by the owners, meaning you needn’t sift through endless racks before you happen upon a gem. Hula is a Hong Kong-based designer consignment store (online and with a retail space in Wong Chuk Hang), with an authenticated selection of goods including finds from Gucci, Chanel, Phillip Lim, Isabel Marant and Saint Laurent. If you are looking for a more expansive edit, Vestiaire Collective and The Real Real are online platforms that offer up to 70% off designer pieces.
The apps to assist and influencers to inspire
Christina Dean (top left), Hitomi Mochizuki, Lauren Toyota, Redress, Aditi Mayer and Good on You, Joulebug, Oroeco and Water for Free apps
There are an endless number of useful apps and influential figures that can serve as both educational powerhouses and stylish inspiration on your journey to being more sustainable. Emma Watson-endorsed Good On You is an app that rates companies based on their approach to pollution, waste and employee treatment. Get a better understanding of how the clothes you wear impact the environment you live in, and the steps that companies have or haven’t taken in offsetting their carbon footprint. Meanwhile, Joulebug is a nifty app with tips on how to make your everyday habits more sustainable, from the workplace to your household. Track your impact and compete in eco challenges with a network of other members to motivate you along your sustainable journey. Carry around your own reusable bottle and the Water For Free app will let you know where the nearest free refill points are in Hong Kong. With over 7 million plastic bottles disposed in Hong Kong daily, do your small part to make a big impact.
If you are feeling uninspired or simply would like to learn more about sustainability, Redress is a Hong Kong-based NGO aiming to bring awareness about textile waste in the fashion industry. Follow their Instagram for quick tips and facts, as well as information about upcoming eco-conscious events. For fashion tips, Aditi Mayer shares her love of conscious fashion while projecting her voice for all things style, sustainability and social justice. Meanwhile, influencer and yogi Hitomi Mochizuki showcases her eclectic sense of fashion as she styles her mostly-thrifted wardrobe in chic and expressive ways.
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CreditHeader image: Vinci Ng for YanYan