In Hong Kong’s fast-paced environment, ordering food to go or online for delivery has become effortless. Picking up food from your favourite restaurant has also been made easy, and this has allowed many individuals to save time and effort, continuing on with their day. But what are the true environmental costs of these actions?
There are two major issues related to purchasing food to go. The first is its contribution to the plastic waste that each individual produces and the other is the health risks involved with plastic containers. However, there are easy solutions to these two problems.
According to Waste Reduction, each Hong Kong citizen produces an average of 1.45kg of municipal solid waste (waste from everyday items) every single day. Daily average plastic is the third-largest component of municipal solid waste, at around 2,124 tonnes each day. The worst part is that out of all the plastic used, only 6.3 per cent will be recycled. So any time you use a plastic utensil to eat your food, this contributes to your daily average. These statistics showcase how every disposable plastic utensil used matters.
What can we do to help?
These numbers are overwhelming, and it is understandable that individuals may feel discouraged and reluctant to make a change. However, every change begins with smaller steps towards a greater goal. There are many different strategies each person can take to make a change in their daily plastic-waste consumption.
An extremely easy yet important step is by purchasing your own reusable utensils. There are many different kinds of reusable items, but a good alternative is wooden cutlery sets that can be easily transported.
On top of reusable cutlery, one of the vital waste products that must be discouraged is plastic straws. Plastic straws should be avoided at all costs, however, it is understandable that at certain times you will want to use a straw (especially when drinking bubble tea!). Nevertheless, there are options that will completely allow you to cut your plastic straw usage. By purchasing a reusable straw especially for bubble tea (or reusable straws in general), you can eliminate that extra waste you produce every time you drink boba.
Another important alternative is to bring your own glass containers when purchasing food. Besides harming the environment, there are possible health risks from eating food that comes in plastic containers.
Many may have heard of the chemical BPA (bisphenol A) contained in different plastic items. According to the National Capital Poison Center in the USA, people are exposed to BPA when they consume either beverages or food in BPA containers. If an item is hot, the exposure intensifies (and most of our takeaway food tends to be warm). The effects of exposure to BPA are mixed, however, exposure to BPA has, in extreme cases, showcased higher levels of testosterone, defects in fetuses and miscarriages. Being exposed to a small amount of BPA is not harmful, yet the effects of continuous exposure could potentially be harmful. Studies today are still being conducted to find the true effects of BPA, but it is better to be safe than sorry, especially when simply eliminating plastic containers is a realistic option.
Reduce your plastic usage!
There is a vast amount of waste related to disposable food packaging, and it is only with each individual’s efforts that we will see a greater reduction in overall plastic usage. Purchasing reusable items to hold and eat your food with is a small contribution you can make in order to reduce your daily plastic waste. Take part in the future of food and create a more sustainable environment in which we can enjoy eating whilst taking care of the earth. Remember that the healthier our planet is, the better our food will be!
To find out more about our upcoming Food’s Future Summit this October, click here