Are we allowed to use the environment to show our power?
Some years ago I had the chance to visit Hong Kong. I went there for business twice in my life: once in 2006 and then again in 2009. I never went there again, after those trips, and honestly, I cannot say I miss it.
Let me explain: the town is amazing and the people are nice. It is one of the safest towns on Earth, and I never felt any kind of fear in both of my travels. I also had a great time in my spare hours, and business in Hong Kong was very well organized. Besides, there are many touristic events and locations, such as the Aquarium and Victoria Peak. It is nice to walk on the seafront, looking at Sampans sailing in the bay. The kitchen is the cherry on top: I enjoyed both the local and the international dishes. But here is the turning point in this idyllic picture. A huge amount of food is wasted.
When I was there (and nothing tells me anything has changed since then) there was an incredible number of chicken and ducks that were prepared daily. “Incredible number” means 23 tons of poultry every day. But in Hong Kong also 55 tons of fish meatballs are cooked daily, and the last statistics show an amount of beef quoted in the equivalent of two “big hamburgers” per person, every day.
Unfortunately, this quantity of food cannot be consumed, ad tons of slaughtered animals are disposed of. Without thinking about the fact that they are animals (which might annoy only vegetarians) the idea of wasting this amount of food is unbearable, and I cannot understand why kind and reasonable people like Hongkongers can tolerate this practice.
There is not only food. When I was there, I saw the big show of the evening, the Symphony of Lights. Every evening, after the sunset, a boat approached Central and switched on very loud music and the wonderful buildings located on Central started “dancing” with lights and lasers. I have never found any statistic about the energy consumption needed to carry on this show, but I felt as if the whole island was the biggest energy generator I had ever seen.
As if it wasn’t enough, like many other Asian countries I have visited, also in Hong Kong they were used to getting everything disposable: bags, towels, straws…
I do not know if anything has changed in recent times, but as far as I know, everything is still more or less the same. What I found so annoying was that this habit to waste food and energy seemed to be a sort of “flexing their muscles”, as if the slogan of the town was: we are rich and powerful and we can afford to waste whatever we want.
All the above reasons are what make me feel that I do not miss the town, despite it being beautiful and safe. But I am grateful for the travels I made there because they made me think about our personal impact on the environment. Mahatma Gandhi said:
Be the change you want to see in the worldMahatma Gandhi
After these two years of the pandemic, we had to use disposable masks, gloves… and I was sorry to notice how every step forward to keep us safe was a step back to environmental care. So, I went back with my memory to my travels to Hong Kong and I am still wondering: are we allowed to use and spoil the environment for our safety and power? As the pandemic might have shown, the answer is “no”: we have to balance our safety and the world ecology, as only in a clean world we can live without fear of the next energy crisis or the next illness.
I am trying to do my part in this story, without wasting food, and energy. I stopped using disposable objects: no more bags, towels, handkerchiefs, straws… Besides, I am producing some detergents, for dishes and laundry. I am also trying to walk more, instead of using my car, which is also healthier. Despite my commitment, I feel I am not doing enough, and I wish to find better solutions to reduce my environmental footprint.
I hope we will find this balance, to have the “dancing” skyscrapers and a safe environment.