how to join plastic-free july

Plastic-Free July: 8 Ways To Take Part

Each year, Plastic-Free July empowers people to be a part of the solution to plastic pollution by eliminating single-use plastic from their daily lives. 

Why July, though? During the summer months when we’re typically enjoying our days outdoors, relaxing at the beach or taking a dip in the ocean, our appreciation of nature is at its peak. What better time to highlight the ever-increasing build-up of plastic waste? Here are 8 ways that you can participate in Plastic-Free July right here in Hong Kong: 


1.

JOIN THE 8SHADES 8 WEEK CHALLENGE

The 8Shades 8 week challenge is our very own way of getting people to take small, actionable steps towards a greener and more sustainable future. With weekly challenges and prizes from now till mid-August 2021, there are still loads of brilliant prizes to be won so be sure to sign up now – and challenge your friends to enter too!

Sign up here


2.

DITCH PLASTIC PACKAGING

Did you know that nearly 50% of all plastic waste generated is from plastic packaging – most of it unnecessary? Hong Kong grocery stores are notorious for excessive plastic packaging. The solution? Instead of buying bags of prepackaged apples, for example, buy them loose at your local market.


3.

GO REUSABLE

Replacing plastic utensils with wooden ones that you carry around with you and using reusable coffee cups and metal or silicone containers for lunches, storage and shopping are just some swaps you can make to up your reusable game. 

plastic-free july

4.

REMEMBER THE TOP 4

Avoid the “Top 4” single-use plastics: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws. Replace them with reusables: shopping bags made of natural fibres, metal or glass water bottles and a ceramic mug or metal thermos. And never, never take a plastic straw.


5.

EAT OUT LESS

Instead of ordering in for lunch, bring food from home. Plastic takeaway containers often aren’t recycled and end up in landfills, where they take hundreds of years to decompose. Cooking your food cuts down on this waste, and you’ll also save money and improve your cooking skills. You don’t need to cook for hours every day to eat well; just stick with simple, healthy food done well.

plastic-free july

6.

MAKE HOME SWAPS

Go through your home, room by room, seeing if there are any eco-friendly swaps you can make. For example, buy cleaning products in boxes, not bottles; and buy your pantry essentials in bulk.

See also: You don’t need to wash your clothes everyday


7.

DO A WARDROBE AUDIT

About 60% of material made into clothing is plastic, which includes polyester, acrylic and nylon. These fabrics are durable and affordable, but every time they’re washed, they shed microplastics.

We could all be more mindful of the clothing we wear, by considering the materials our clothes are made from, buying from second hand shops, repairing your clothes when they break instead of replacing them or simply buying less. You could also use a guppy bag for those fabrics that are synthetic.


8.

DO YOUR BEST

Don’t beat yourself up if you fall short – it’s called a challenge for a reason! Try out different things and stick to what works for you. 

Join us this Plastic Free July by making small but important changes in your everyday life. The more you practice these behaviours, the easier it will become to implement them into your life beyond July.


See also: Join The 8Shades 8-Week Challenge!

How do they make bags out of recycled plastic anyway?

For our 4th week giveaway we are partnering with Everybody & Everyone to giveaway their pretty epic All Good Things bag. This aptly named bag is very literally made of “all good things”, E&E partner with a textile company called EcoAlf who produce the recycled fabric to make the bag from ocean recovered plastic bottles and fishing nets using an innovative process.

HOW ON EARTH DO THEY MAKE PLASTIC INTO FABRIC WE HEAR YOU SAY?

Let’s take a quick deep dive into the benefits and process. The All Good Things bag is made using recycled plastic bottles and recovered ocean fishing nets, which are tied to EcoAlf’s ocean clean-up foundation. EcoAlf work with with fisherman across the world to recover ocean fishing nets and other plastic debris to be repurposed into textile. It’s a revolutionary technique and is soon to be replicated all over the world.

“The ECOALF FOUNDATION is a non-profit organisation whose main objective is to promote the selective recovery of waste in order to recycle, valorise and avoid its harmful effects on the environment by developing and applying new scientific and technological knowledge.”

EcoAlf

Recycled polyester and recycled nylon are the two main textiles used to make the bag. By using recycled PET (plastic bottles) to produce polyester, they are reducing water consumption by 20%, energy by 50% & CO2 by 60%. Not only are they cleaning up the world’s plastic problem, the production process is actually more economical than if they were to use virgin materials. Polyester can be recycled again and again which means it’s great for a circular economy.

Nylon is another fabric that can be recycled many times and has an extended life-span. Fishing nets can sometimes be scarce because they are hard to recover for repurposing into nylon fabric so they’re often combined with nylon leftovers from the production process. EcoAlf’s nylon is made from 25% fishing nets, 25% scrapped carpeting and 50% pre-consumer nylon waste.

EcoAlf has helped to recycle more than 80 tons of discarded fishing nets so far but there are still 650,000 tonnes of fishing nets on the bottom of the ocean. By recovering and recycling these nets into fabric rather than using virgin materials, it means less consumption of natural resources, less production of green-house emissions & it prevents marine pollution.


THE PROCESS…

The PET and fishing nets get collected, cleaned and condensed down into little plastic chips which are then formed into pellets. The pellets then get turned into yarn and then yarn into fabric! Simple really, it begs the question, why aren’t we doing this on a larger scale?

Now go and be a changemaker and get your bag by entering the week 4 challenge here!

8-week Challenge: HULA & Emily give us their top 8 ideas to revive your wardrobe

8 Weeks 

8 Challenges 

8 Giveaways 

Click here to enter Week 3 and find out more now!

How many of you have opened your closet and thought, “I have way too much stuff and no room at all” and still sighed in frustration, “I have nothing to wear”?

This week we are partnering with HULA, one of our fave pre-owned shops in Hong Kong, to win a HK$500 voucher to spend in their shop!

Here’s Week 3’s challenge: dig out an old dress from your closet that you haven’t worn in a while and style it up with our pro tips from Emily and HULA. Head over to IG to post your video and tag us or enter here.

It’s one paradoxical, yet familiar situation that many have faced. In Hong Kong, nearly one-fifth of new clothing purchases are never or hardly worn and these add up to about 110,000 tonnes of textile waste each year. More alarmingly, four in ten Hong Kongers have thrown away clothing after wearing it just once.

For the third week of 8Shades’ 8 Weeks 8 Challenge, we have partnered up with HULA to shine the light on circularity in fashion. HULA has been “making fashion circular” since 2017, collecting and selling pre-loved luxury womenswear in new and hardly worn condition (and also lots of discontinued vintage goodies). Stocking over 6000 pieces in their Wong Chuk Hang warehouse and 500 pieces at their Central shop, HULA has an idea or (or eight to be exact) when it comes to resourceful styling.

Check out our video featuring Emily styling outfits in different ways, giving you some inspiration for your 8-week challenge entry!

@joinHULA @8shadesofficial #8shades8weeks #makingfashioncircular #shopHULA and #8ShadesXHULA 

Read on to discover HULA’s top 8 tips on how to rethink your existing wardrobe – now dig deep into your closet and help eliminate textile waste fashionably! 


1.

IS IT A CARDIGAN? OR IS IT AN OFF-SHOULDER TOP? 

[Hermes Vintage Cardigan, Hermes (2), John Galliano, Hermes]

A cardigan is a great option to keep you warm in the heavily AC-ed venues in Hong Kong, but it is an even better off-shoulder top. Pick your favourite cardigan, button it up and pull one or both of the shoulders down. Voila, there’s your next off-shoulder top! 


2.

WHAT THE TURNAROUND IS LIKE

Did you know you can also turn the same cardigan into an open-back knitted top if you wear it backwards? Pick a printed cardigan for this purpose for some fun prints and details on the back. 


3.

ACCESSORISED

This tip is great for the avid t-shirt, plain blazer and top wearers. Statement jewellery can do wonders for your daily look. Layer a long necklace with some chunky chokers and your accessories have now officially become the focal points of the outfit. Bonus tip: mismatch a statement earring with another stud earring to create a high-end bespoke look. Be sure to match the colour tones, you don’t want to pair silver with gold!

More statement accessories:

[Y Project Earring, Swarovski Long Necklace, Salvatore Ferragamo Necklace]


4.

LET’S GET SILKY 

From Audrey Hepburn to Kate Moss, women have embraced skinny silk twill for decades and why stop now? Wrap it around your neck for a touch of elegance. Your silk twill shouldn’t just go on your handbag strap! For a more playful look, wrap it around your head to create your very own bunny ears and one-of-a-kind headband. 


5.

NECKLACE BELT

Your chunky necklace is here to save the day, again. This works best if you had a big-chained statement necklace. Simply loop your necklace around your pants, and let the pendant droop to create an intentional effect. This instantly turns your necklace into a versatile belt chain! 


6.

CINCH IT UP

A good quality shirt dress can easily give you endless opportunities to transform it – good fabric lays a good foundation for flowy draping. Using a silking shirt dress, button it up until around two inches down your waist and put your go-to belt on top. Leaving the rest of the buttons unbuttoned creates a more relaxed and casual look by letting the fabric flow as you move. 


7.

IT’S A TIE

Turn the same shirt dress into a top by tying the two front pieces together – a good shirt dress won’t bunch up as much and you won’t have to worry about the back not look as good as the fabric should drape flawlessly, creating an easy effortless look. 


8.

DAY TO NIGHT

Don’t be afraid to wear maxi dresses during the day – you can easily dress it down by wearing some sneakers and throwing on an oversized denim jacket. Have somewhere to be at night and no time to change? Pop on your fave blazer and matching heels on to complete your night look! 

More sneaker selections:

[Fendi Monogrammed Sneakers, Louis Vuitton Archlight Sneakers, Aquazzura Sneakers]

More maxi dress selections:

[Derek Lam Floral Dress, Valentino Dress, Alexis Button Up Dress]

Follow HULA on Instagram for more styling tips and latest new-in items!

Items featured in the video:  

Toga, Bottega Veneta Earrings, Tanya Taylor Floral Dress, Celine Sneakers, Saint Laurent Denim Jacket, Cinq a Sept Satin Blazer, Aquazzura Heels, Hermes Shirt Dress, Victoria Beckham Tailored Pants in Purple, Sensi Studio Straw Hat, Hermes H Buckle & Reversible Orange Leather Belt, J.W.Anderson Earrings, Maje White Puffy Shirt, Celine Denim Jeans, Gucci “Guccy” Navy Twill, Chanel Chain Necklace/Belt, Hermes Vintage Cardigan, Chloe Long Statement Necklace, Brinker & Eliza Chunky Choker,

Second-hand shopping is second to none

Dear Shoppers,

Please make second-hand your first choice.

With gratitude,

The Planet (and Your Wallet.)

Hongkongers’ shopping habits are among the unhealthiest in the world: our reliance on buying more and buying new takes a huge toll on the environment. Each day, 293 tonnes of textiles end up in our landfills. Insert second-hand shopping: a fantastic way to satiate our shopaholic urges without inflicting more environmental harm.

Although Hong Kong is famed as a shopping paradise, did you know that our city also provides unparalleled opportunities to shop second-hand without sacrificing style or quality? 


Source: Hula

I LOVE IT WHEN SOMEONE ELSE PAYS FULL PRICE FIRST

The first store we want to spotlight is Hula, a female-founded marketplace that sells pre-loved designer womenswear and luxury goods. Hula revolutionizes the idea of a dusty and unstylish second-hand market. At Hula, you will find snazzy brand-name pieces (think Valentino, Chanel, Celine, Dior, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton) at bargain prices of up to 95% off retail. You can shop Hula’s curated collection online, or visit their boutique store in Central to see their unbelievable finds in person. We also love Hula because it has pledged 5% of their profits to local charities.


Source: Retykle

I’M NOT A REGULAR MUM. I’M A COOL MUM

RETYKLE is an online marketplace for parents to buy designer children’s clothing at greatly reduced prices. Retykle was founded by a #momtrepeneur who realized that she had amassed a ton of unworn or barely worn babywear, childrenswear, and even maternity-wear. Given that babies speed through a whopping seven sizes of clothing in the first two years of their lives, Retykle is on a mission to keep these outgrown clothes out of landfills. 


Source: Luxford

SHOPAHOLICS: CONSIGN YOUR FATE HERE

Second-hand shopping is not just a one-way street. Even the best shoppers make mistakes: many of us own designer pieces that lie idly in our closet, many with price tags still attached. Missed the deadline to return your items? Luxford (aka affordable luxury) is a virtual marketplace that sells and consigns authenticated luxury menswear and womenswear garments and accessories. At Luxford, you can sell and extend the life cycle for your own luxury goods. Talk about a win-win. 

Additionally, check out Green Ladies, a consignment store in Wan Chai where you can both spice up or clean out your wardrobe. The company is committed to empowering middle-aged women to re-enter the workforce with confidence and style. 

What happens to all that plastic that we try so hard to recycle

If you’re anything like us, you always make sure to carefully separate your trash and dispose of it in the correct recycling bin. You feel like you’ve done your part, but what really happens to it after it’s supposedly sent to be magically repurposed into something else? 

There were rumours that waste destined for recycling is simply sent to landfills because it’s less trouble.

This was confirmed when an investigation last year discovered that nearly two-thirds of housing estates in Hong Kong surveyed were sending plastic bottles collected in recycling bins, to landfill! 

In its 2013 waste reduction plan, the Hong Kong government set a target that, by 2022, each person would throw away no more than 0.8kg of waste per day, but this target is unlikely to be reached because… 

“In 2018, Hong Kongers sent an average of 1.53kgs per person of solid waste to landfills every day; just 30% of this was recycled.”

How has this happened? 

Some say that it’s because of the low value of plastics in Hong Kong. 1kg of collected, separated and processed plastic waste may give recyclers just HKD$0.30- $0.50, lower than a few years ago. Also, most plastics are not recyclable in Hong Kong, of the seven types of plastic materials, only three are able to be recycled by local plants through the government scheme. 


How can we fix this?

Hong Kong plans to build adequate waste-to-energy facilities so that it no longer needs to rely on landfills by 2035. Aside from this sizeable goal, the government needs to provide monetary subsidies to recyclers to encourage proper collection and recycling. 

Basically, we (as in you and me) need to start getting smart about how we manage our own waste and look beyond our rubbish bins. We know it’s hard to figure it all out, but thankfully Hong Kong is working hard to develop an effective recycling system that is easy to use.

Not only do we have the likes of independently operated Love Recycling Plus and other smaller scale recycling entities, the Environmental Protection Department are finally stepping up. The GREEN @ COMMUNITY initiative launched in late 2020, a community recycling network that is available on a broad scale across the city with 133 recycling points in total for you to access.

Click here to find your local recycling point.


What can we recycle?

  • Glass bottles
  • Beverage cartons
  • Fluorescent lamps and tubes
  • Metals (tin and aluminium cans)
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Small electrical appliances (even your mobile phones)
  • Plastic bottles & bags
  • Paper 

If you want to learn more about using the GREEN @ COMMUNITY check out our bestie’s page to find out more.

As it turns out, there are some great initiatives tackling Hong Kong’s waste problem; after all, if the rest of the world produced waste like Hong Kong, we would need more than four planets to live… Yikes!

Love recycling in Hong Kong

Plastics have been dominating the headlines in recent years, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s an epidemic we are facing as a global population, with certain countries making strides in recent years to combat; either through elimination altogether or recycling programmes. What we have on offer in Hong Kong is, frankly, dismal, with options few and far between, and much confusion to go along with it. However, there is hope on the horizon, with new avenues for us to explore.

Love Recycling Plus was founded by a former UK resident, who was used to an extensive recycling habit and upon return to Hong Kong, was sorely disappointed to find that while people were willing to recycle, the government’s free service was both inefficient and almost completely ineffective. Collection points were not tended to often enough and led to over spilling – as a result, recycling matter was simply being diverted to general waste. Whatever was in the recycling bins was deemed unfit for recycling due to dirt or contamination and as a result, was just taken straight to the landfill.

Frustrating, indeed. 


Providing customers with their own bins, Love Recycling Plus accepts the following:

  • Glass: wine and beer bottles, glass jars.
  • Metal: aluminium drink cans, food tins, metal biscuit tins.
  • Cardboard and paper: newspaper, cardboard, A4 paper, magazines, toilet roll tubes.
  • Plastic: type 1-7 plastics, bar type 3.
  • Tetra Paks: milk or drink cartons, paper cups.
  • Miscellaneous: cup noodle pots, sweet wrappers, Styrofoam lunchboxes, crisp packets.

Here are the different types of plastics to help you get familiar with the acceptable and the bad:

  • Type 1 (Polyethylene Terephthalate a.k.a. PET or PETE): the most widely used plastic in the world including water bottles, soft drink bottles, mouthwash bottles.
  • Type 2 (High-density Polyethylene a.k.a. HDPE): another versatile, durable plastic found in shampoo bottles, milk bottles, cleaning product bottles.
  • Type 3 (Polyvinyl Chloride a.k.a. PVC): the only plastic that is not recyclable and should be avoided in the first place, it tends to end up in the incinerator or landfill where its dioxin production is toxic to humans and animals. These include: toys, baby dishes, PVC pipes, clingfilm, vinyl flooring, blister packs and clamshell containers.
  • Type 4 (Low-Density Polyethylene a.k.a. LDPE): squeeze bottles, bubble wrap, six pack rings.
  • Type 5 (Polypropylene a.k.a. PP): plastic straws, yoghurt pots, ice cream containers.
  • Type 6 (Polystyrene or Styrofoam a.k.a. PS): egg cartons, disposable cutlery, disposable cups.
  • Type 7 (Miscellaneous Plastics a.k.a OTHER): all rigid, unlabelled plastic can be considered a miscellaneous plastic, such as: baby bottles. CDs, water cooler bottles.

As you can see, it can be easy to recycle properly but it takes commitment (and a little extra cash to subscribe). If it means your next trip to the beach doesn’t leave you wading through plastic, surely that’s worth it?

New Year, New Me… Really

Chinese New Year is a joyful time rife with festivities, frivolities, family time and some incredibly full bellies, but as we dive into celebrations this year, it’s worthwhile to identify and solve certain problems that have grown over time, intertwined with traditions and sheer habit. There are customs you’d be hard pressed to battle with, but there are ways to actively be more sustainable this year – no excuses! 

It is often the most challenging to convince previous generations to alter a lifetime of tradition, but with careful explanation, a helping hand and at times, some cajoling, you’d be surprised how receptive they can be. By shifting our ways and those of others in our lives, there is hope for our future generations to take on these new, more sustainable methods to celebrate this time of year, who eventually, won’t know it any other way.


1

Lai see, yes please, but…

A local study performed in 2014 revealed upwards of 16,000 trees were sacrificed to make lai see packets for just one year in Hong Kong alone.

Tradition is tradition and we love it, but maybe it’s time to, well, get with the times. Lai See packets are an inevitable joy for those receiving and pain for those doling out and of course, the poor environment suffers like no other! Be sure to purchase lai see packets that are not specific to the year, better yet, custom made using recycled FSC paper, and tuck the flaps in so they can be reused the following years. Ask your local bank if they have any lai see packet recycling programmes; many do. Take it upon yourself to research e-payment companies as well as banks, where interest in electronic lai see is burgeoning. 


2

The gift of giving

Going through the motions and gifting mindlessly means a gargantuan increase in packaging tossed in the rubbish.

Instead of buying snacks and other edibles, why not make it from scratch at home? It will decrease your consumption of packaging and who doesn’t adore a homemade treat?


3

Out with the old, in with the new

The age-old adage of spring cleaning en masse only to head straight back out to purchase new things to replace whatever we’ve just eliminated is mind-boggling and simply a vicious cycle we need to break.

When clearing clutter from your home, be mindful with your disposal – sort out recycling and donating thoughtfully and responsibly. Let this be an opportunity to streamline your belongings, appreciate them and identify what really needs to be kept, tossed or replaced.


4

Decoration nation

Decorations are one of the worst offenders during Chinese New Year, as they are rarely kept and used again. 

Instead of buying cut flowers, which wilt away all too soon, consider a potted variety which last long after celebrations have ended – surely a much better omen for the new year. You could also make your own festive decorations using repurposed materials and fabrics; a fun activity for adults and kids alike.


5

All gluttony, no glory

Food wastage is not only terrible for your conscience, damaging to the environment but could be eradicated completely while helping those in need.

Donate excess food to family service centres, nursing homes or any non-profit organisations who are open to donations. Food Wise Hong Kong provide a lengthy catalogue of options. The word “excess” runs rampant during Chinese New Year, especially when it comes to food, so it’s worth taking the time to carefully plan meals ahead of time so that just enough is made, with not too much to spare.