As someone who has recently joined the anti-plastic band wagon, no news was more welcome the arrival of Hong Kong's first zero-waste store, Live Zero, which opened in Sai Ying Pun last month. After a preview video of it went viral, amassing thousands of views overnight, the shop has been buzzing with customers almost constantly - proving that Hong Kong is ready to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle.
Here's a quick introduction on what you need to know about Live Zero and zero waste living. Continue checking back for more articles on living a greener life in Hong Kong.
Zero waste is a lifestyle that goes beyond recycling, encouraging people to minimise the amount of waste they produce by re-using products. The ultimate goal is to avoid sending any trash to landfills, and only the smallest amount to recycling. It's a way to live that is sustainable and often cost-effective, though it does require more effort. At its heart, it's not about being perfect, but rather continuing to improve daily. Every little bit helps, even if it's just saying no to single use straws. America alone uses 500 million single-use straws a day, which take lifetimes to break down, often leaving behind toxic residues.
Walk into a regular grocery store and what do you see? Plastic bags of apples, plastic wrapped oranges, plastic wrapped pastas-basically, plastic everything, and little (if any) of it is recyclable. Portions are pre-packaged, often leading to unnecessary food waste, and prices are marked up according to brand. Zero waste stores are the antithesis of that. You bring your own containers - reducing food and plastic waste - and buy what you need. Often, they focus on dried goods, oils and plastic-free beauty and cleaning supplies.
Now that Live Zero has opened, it's easier than ever before to reduce our daily waste. Make them your first stop on your zero-waste journey. Inside, bulk, BPA-free bins and jars house countless legumes, pastas, spices, grains and seeds. They even have hard-to find ingredients like dried lavender, cacao nibs and spirulina. Stainless steel vats are filled with oils, from extra virgin to coconut nectar. It's all neatly arranged on wooden shelves, giving the space a clean, minimalist aesthetic that will make any organisation-freak weak at the knees.
The shop houses more than pantry staples as well. Like their sister outlet in PMQ, Live Zero has a generous selection of plastic-free beauty products and kitchen reusables, like hair oils, shampoo bars, deodorants, toothpastes, metal straws, lunch boxes, keep cups and more. They even have environmentally-friendly detergents and multi-purpose cleaners.
The process, for the uninitiated, is simple. Weigh your empty container, fill it up with whatever you need, weigh it again, and label it. You'll be charged only for the weight of your ingredients, not your container. At Live Zero the prices are refreshingly reasonable. Oils as low as HK$15 / 100g; pastas from HK$5 / 100g and so on. You take as much or as little as you need, bringing your own reusable containers from home, or purchasing ones from the store. They even have complimentary jars donated by do-gooders, but these go quickly! My current Live Zero favourite (besides my reusable straws!) is the matcha powder. For half the cost of my usual matcha latte, I walked out with enough to last me weeks.
Landfills around the world are filling up and our planet is reaching maximum capacity. Melting ice caps, increased carbon emissions, rising sea levels, forest fires, plastic oceans - these are just a few of the realities of life in 2018. It's estimated that over eight million metric tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans each year, and that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. If this sounds concerning to you, then welcome to the world of zero waste living. It's a long journey, and often an aspirational one - sometimes it's just not feasible to generate bi waste at all - but it's definitely a worthwhile one.
We're expecting more exciting products and initiatives from Live Zero to come soon, including locally roasted coffee beans, fresh nut butters and a delivery service. Check out livezero.hk for more information.
Live Zero, 24 High Street, Sai Ying Pun