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Nurturing green communities

March 19, 2017

Green family

Green family:  Mrs Wong (left) attends an upcycling workshop at Kwun Tong Community Green Station with her children. They learn how to make lipsticks from food waste.

Swap till you drop

Swap till you drop:  Kwun Tong Community Green Station collects recyclables from residents and New Year fairs’ unsold goods for its swap events.

Disabled green ambassador

Disabled green ambassador:  Yuen Long Community Green Station Project Assistant Yip Chi-ho, who has autism and moderate mental handicap, is one of the centre’s four disabled staff. He collects used glass bottles and electrical appliances from housing estates every day.

Role model

Role model:  Hong Chi Association Service Supervisor Yim Yat-keung (left) at the Yuen Long Community Green Station says their disabled staff set an example in practising green living to others in society.

Going green for gifts

Going green for gifts:  Residents earn one point for every kg of recyclables they hand in at the Yuen Long Community Green Station. The accumulated points can be redeemed for gifts like cups and electric pianos.

Mixing orange peel, beeswax and cocoa butter together, Mrs Wong learned how to make lipstick from food leftovers together with her son and daughter.

 

She said the workshop taught her kids to take care of the environment.

 

“I want my kids to adopt environmentally-friendly habits. I usually ask them to sort the garbage and put it in the right bins.”

 

The upcycling workshop held last month was one of the many initiatives launched by the Kwun Tong Community Green Station to promote environmentally-friendly living in the community.

 

Launched in February, the station is the third of its kind in the city.

 

It is run by the Christian Family Service Centre.

 

Expanding network

In 2013, the Environment Bureau released the “Hong Kong Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022”.

 

It set out a target to reduce the per capita disposal rate of municipal solid waste by 40% by 2022.

 

To help achieve the goal, the Government is implementing the Community Green Station Scheme in phases, aiming to set up the stations in all 18 districts in Hong Kong.

 

Non-governmental organisations are commissioned and subsidised to run the stations to help the concept of green living take root in the community.

 

The first two stations in Sha Tin and Eastern District opened in 2015. In the last quarter, they collected 160 tonnes of recyclables.

 

Waste reduction

At the Kwun Tong centre, Ms Lee browsed the clothes donated by residents.

 

To boost household waste reduction, the centre holds swap events for residents to exchange unwanted clothes, books and other recyclables.

 

Ms Lee said she wants to support environmental protection.

 

“For clothes, people just wear them for one season and throw them away. But they are still in good condition and in style. We can exchange clothes here. So there’s no need to buy new clothes every season.”

 

The centre’s Service Manager Kenny Chan said they want to attract more people to join the swap events.

 

“We collect useful goods including old clothes, books and household items from the community. Some New Year fair vendors also give us their unsold goods.”

 

Creative upcycling

The centre’s Education Programme Assistant Carol Lam said the key to green living is to be creative.

 

“We explain to residents waste is not useless. It can be used to make useful things. We show them different waste recycling tricks. For example, plastic or glass bottles can be turned into storage boxes. Unwanted clothes can be used to make shopping bags.

 

“Those are things residents use in their daily lives. We want to inspire them to come up with new ways to make products from waste.”

 

March saw the opening of the Yuen Long centre in Tin Shui Wai by the Hong Chi Association, extending the green station network to the New Territories West.

 

Four people with mental handicap work alongside able-bodied staff at the Yuen Long station, teaching residents recycling tips and handling recyclables collected from residents.

 

Project Assistant Yip Chi-ho, who has autism and moderate mental handicap, said his duties involve collecting used glass bottles and electrical appliances from housing estates every day.

 

The disabled as green ambassadors

Hong Chi Association Service Supervisor Yim Yat-keung said their centre not only encourages residents to protect the environment, but also promotes integration between the disabled and able-bodied.

 

“The mentally handicapped share the same work duties as their able-bodied colleagues.

 

“They work at the reception desk, collecting and weighing residents’ recyclables. They also do promotion and education work at our street booths.

 

“Their presence has a great impact on people. Thinking that even the mentally disabled can handle recycling, they will be compelled to do the same too.”

 

The centre plans to provide work placement for 20 trainees from the Hong Chi Association every year.

 

It has also set up a shop to promote recycling, collecting a wide range of unwanted goods like computers, glass bottles, compact fluorescent lamps and tubes, and rechargeable batteries.

 

For every kg of recyclables residents hand in, they earn one point. Every hour of volunteer service at the station gives them 10 points. The accumulated points can be redeemed for gifts like cups and electric pianos.

 

To expand the network, the Environmental Protection Department recently appointed Po Leung Kuk to operate the Sham Shui Po Community Green Station, which will open in the middle of the year. This will boost public participation in community recyclables collection and environmental education.



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