Thursday, 11 November 2010

What a waste

I've been half heartedly following the story of landfill extension in Hong Kong. Don't ask me why. It's better than the other thing I do these days, which is try to coach my three proto-ladies in the etiquette of How to leave an argument you are losing.

This, as everyone knows, is simply to depart with your head held high, whilst uttering an incomprehensible statement as if that is your final word. Your moral ground assured, your dignity intact and your interlocutors momentarily silenced while they try and puzzle out what is going on, all gives you the necessary pause to collect your thoughts and your handbag and make for the door, which is hopefully the right one.

My three proto-type ladies are not doing that. Not at all. They are standing yelling at a situation until their faces turn blue and their lungs collapse. By that time, both parents are initiating lock down, the emergency vehicles are on stand by, and the neighbour is in hiding at the emergency nuclear bunker.

But I bet we are not alone. I bet there are similar scenes played out in Hong Kong power buildings everyday, over similar issues to who claims ownership of the paint brush and whose turn it is to throw Dolly off the roof.

Some of them are saying, Let's tear up the country park to dump sixty billion plastic bags in a pit! and I bet their opponents answer, No, that is a crap way to use land. We could build two hundred tower blocks instead! Then they both fall to fist fighting until the security forces are called and everyone gets sent to their rooms to think over how badly they just behaved.

What no-one in the Hong Kong government seems to me to be doing is pushing through any serious measures to reduce waste in the first place.

For example, Hong Kongers have a 50 cent tax on government approved plastic bags. Big deal. Each day shop keepers give away several thousand of the non-chargeable alternatives: one of the worst is a thick, bright orange plastic bag. It feels to your touch like a raw molten polymer squeezed straight out a squeegee plastic maker machine. They give away one of those for every two onions and a carrot.

Apart from fannying about with a biodegradable shopping bag, what else this Hong Kong government is doing to reduce waste I cannot tell. There is no serious investment in recycling facilities, no priority or commitment to waste reduction, no discussion of waste management that is reaching the consciousness of the shopkeeper with whom I am currently at war. There is nothing I can see that's going to change much, so sorry about the waste that this part of the world is currently dumping in your ocean, sky, and land.

I do something of nothing too. Each day, armoured with my old home-made cloth shopper, I head to the veg stall and make a grab for my carrot and onions from the weighing scales before that shopkeeper tips them in an orange plastic biohazard bag and hands them to me with a smug beat you to it, hippie!

If he does it again tomorrow, I shall merely depart the shop with my head held high. I shall say, Three flowers and an ostrich do not a triumph make.


Rachel M. said...

it's sad too with such a booming economy that they can't take environmental measures more seriously. I'd tell you about the horrific industrial waste running out the back of the factory my boss has seen and tried to convince the factory owners to give a crap but they don't do unless it's required under regulation. Fortunately Walmart and Disney are starting to enforce green acts upon them so there might be some improvements. It really needs to come from the government though.

sharon said...

Funnily enough the reusable bags we buy at the supermarkets here are made in China. And, when they finally tear they are taken back to the supermarket to be recycled and used to make furniture for schools. I make it a point of honour to use as few conventional plastic bags as possible and always take them back to the supermarket for recycling. I have a sneaky feeling those are just made into more plastic bags but better that than put straight into landfill and/or some poor creature's digestive system.