A few years ago, Sonalie Figueiras was attempting to live a healthier life in Hong Kong. It was hard work. Putting together an organic meal meant going to 3 supermarkets and 2 health food shops. Replenishing bathroom products meant travelling 45 minutes on the MTR to find eco-friendly shampoo. Cleaning her apartment meant convincing her husband that paying an extra 30% more for what seemed like nothing more than lemon and water was, in fact, going to save their lungs. But over time, her little ‘green’ book of addresses got longer. Convinced that there were others like her out there, she decided to create an online guide where she could share her findings. And voilà! Green Queen born.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 5 TIPS FOR LIVING A GREENER LIFESTYLE IN HK?
My top 5 tips would be:
1. Reduce the amount of meat and animal products you consume- go Green Monday (and maybe Green Tuesday and Green Wednesday). No matter what your stance on animal rights or veganism is, it's hard for anyone to argue with the fact that across the world, too many of us are eating too much poor quality meat and fish that is farmed/sourced at a huge negative cost to our environment and our collective human health. We all stand to benefit from eating fewer animal products and it's a pretty easy change to make. Not to mention that Hong Kong has such an exciting plant-based dining scene these days!
2. Cook more of your meals at home- cut down on takeaways, delivery apps and restaurant meals. When you cook at home, you have more control over what you eat: you can choose sustainably grown/raised foods made by producers/companies that practice responsible business and you can prepare more nutrient-dense meals that contain fewer overly processed ingredients. Plus cooking is fun, therapeutic and a great way to show those around you how much you love them.
3. Choose eco-friendly accommodation when you travel- since people in Hong Kong travel so often, this is a big one: vote with your bookings and support hotels/B&Bs/hosts that support sustainable living, integrate with their local communities, respect their natural environment, practice responsible waste management, are constructed with green building standards in mind, have energy efficient practices built-in to their daily operations, support local plant and animal biodiversity, treat their staff well and pay them fair wages, source food & beverages as sustainably as possible. With travel becoming commonplace, it's more important than ever for us to make conscious choices so that the world's most beautiful and sacred places.
4. Get out on the trails every week- hiking is the easiest way to stay fit, get away from your screen, convene with nature and appreciate Hong Kong's natural beauty. Spending more time amongst trees is not only good for your mental health, it also helps you to forge a deeper relationship with nature, making it more likely that you will make eco-conscious choices in your everyday life.
5. Buy less stuff- I really believe in minimalism: owning fewer things, consuming less, investing in essentials that last, buying second-hand, reducing clutter...We absolutely don't need as many things as we own. Whatever your poison- be it gadgets, fashion or cosmetics...we spend too much money and time on these things that don't add real value to our lives. Focus on experiences instead. Nurture your mind, not your closet.
WHAT DOES LIVING GREENER MEAN TO YOU?
Living greener for me is about making choices that do the least harm to those around me and to the natural environment. Avoiding plastics, consuming less, ignoring fast fashion, participating in the circular economy, voting with my wallet for conscious brands and products, being mindful of how much waste I produce, not harming animals, using my voice to lend support to important human, animal and environmental causes...
ARE THERE CERTAIN FOODS THAT WE CAN AVOID TO HELP US EAT A MORE ECO-FRIENDLY DIET?
If we are talking about eating a diet that is more environmentally sustainable: eat local and seasonal, choose organic produce, shop in bulk and at farmers' markets, eat fewer animal products. Avoid overly packaged food with long labels full of ingredients you can't pronounce, avoid food that your grandmother wouldn't recognise (i.e. overly factory processed), avoid farmed fish, avoid industrially reared meat and dairy, avoid overly packaged food and avoid regular food delivery. Avoid ingredients with unethical and environmentally destructive supply chains such as palm oil, farmed shrimp and non-fair-trade coffee and tea.