Eight Easy Ways to Reduce Your Water Consumption
The average person in Hong Kong consumes 130 liters of fresh water each day, making Hong Kong people some of the highest urban consumers of water in the world. If we continue to use water at the same rate, supplies will dwindle, and we might have to live on less than 100 liters of water per day by 2050. Hong Kong’s supply from the Dongjiang River Basin is limited and expensive, factors that will only worsen if we don’t act fast to reduce our consumption.
Traditional suggestions for saving water include taking shorter showers and turning off the tap when brushing your teeth. But there are many other ways you can reduce your water use to sustainable levels, benefitting people and nature in Hong Kong and around the world. Here are eight easy tips to reduce your water footprint:
SAVE 7 LITERS – Don’t buy disposable water bottles: It takes at least twice as much water to produce each bottle as the amount of water it contains. Bring a reusable bottle and refill it to save seven liters each time. You’ll save money too!
SAVE 10 LITERS – Buy print wisely. It takes 10 liters of water to produce just one piece of paper!
SAVE 60-160 LITERS – Washing machines use more than 56 liters of water per load. Group your loads efficiently for maximum energy and water savings.
SAVE 200 LITERS – Eat your leftovers. 70 percent of the world’s available fresh water goes into agriculture. A simple cheese sandwich takes about 211 liters of water to produce. Save food for another meal or send it home with guests to avoid wasting the water that went into producing it.
SAVE 1,500 LITERS – Buy a vintage t-shirt or swap with a friend instead of buying a brand new one: You’ll look cool saving the 1,500 liters of water that would’ve been used to produce a new shirt.
SAVE 2,400 LITERS – Go meatless once a week: It takes 2,400 liters to produce just one hamburger — that’s the amount of water used by the average person in Hong Kong over 18 days.
SAVE 3,500 LITERS – Don’t pour leftover cooking oil down the drain — just one liter of oil can pollute 250,000 liters of fresh water (that is 3,500 liters fresh water for every tablespoon of oil) when waste water is returned to the environment, ruining the supply that communities and wildlife depend on.
ONE STEP FURTHER – Plant a tree yourself or through a donation to TNC. Forests and grasslands keep soil and pollutants from running into water sources and dirtying them, especially in urban areas. Clean water in nature makes for healthier global communities.
Fighting Air Pollution in Hong Kong
Pollution kills more people each year than all the world’s war and violence combined, according to a study in The Lancet Medical Journal. In Hong Kong, we are facing two air pollution headaches – local street-level pollution caused by diesel vehicles, and a regional smog problem from motor vehicle, marine vessel, industry and power plant emissions here and across the Pearl River Delta region.
High levels of air pollution pose serious health risks, especially since millions of people in Hong Kong live and work near busy roads. If you’ve been outside on a particularly bad day, you’ve experienced the effect it can have on your lungs and brain. Research by the University of Hong Kong found that air pollution causes at least 1,500 premature deaths in Hong Kong every year. Declining air quality raises public health costs and drives away talent and economic development opportunities, hindering the city’s global stature.
We are all in this fight together. So how can you make sure that we have clean air to breathe in Hong Kong?
Choose a green commute
Hong Kong has the world’s highest traffic density, a mass of idling cars emitting exhaust that contributes to the unhealthy quality of our air. Fortunately, Hong Kong also has one of the world’s most efficient public transportation systems. Getting around the city using buses, mini-buses, ferries and railways are just as convenient and time-effective as driving your own car. Starting today, reduce the number of trips you take in your car and we’ll be one step closer to breathing in cleaner air.
Choose environmental-friendly vehicles
If you have to drive, there are greener ways to use your own car. Join the more than 10,000 Electric Vehicles (EV) in the city instead of driving a diesel-powered car. There are a growing number of EV models being launched by major car producers, and they are just as fast and sleek as their gasoline-powered counterparts. Why not look cool and drive green at the same time?
It may not seem obvious, but using energy-efficient appliances and turning off lights will help reduce air pollution. The act of generating energy itself is a big contributor to carbon emissions in the air. The Hong Kong government aims to increase the use of natural gas to 50 percent by 2020, but we still rely heavily on imported coal for generating electricity. Reduce your energy use – turn off appliances when not in use and look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying new home or office equipment.
Plant healthy air with us
Take a nature-based step to address pollution – by planting more trees. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) scientists found that an annual global investment of HK$11 per person in planting urban trees could provide 68 million people with measurable reductions in particulate matter pollution. Trees are one of the most cost-effective investments in tackling air pollution. They also absorb a variety of air pollutants like ozone and nitrogen oxides, reducing the ambient concentrations that we breathe. Globally, TNC has planted 23 million trees.
We could have a future of fresh and clean air in Hong Kong and beyond, but not without your support. Donate today: your monthly gift of HK$500 could help to plant 500 trees – enough to generate clean air for 2,000 people for an entire year.
Six Ways to Fight Climate Change
Climate change is a central issue for the entire planet, and Hong Kong is no exception – the city experiences more frequent heavy rain than before, and the sea level in Victoria Harbor is rising. Hong Kong has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 26-36 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 base levels, and is pursuing a variety of climate change initiatives, including phasing out coal and increasing buildings’ energy efficiency.
Reducing the causes and effects of our planet’s warming is also one of The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC)’s priorities, but organizations and governments won’t solve the problem on their own. That’s where individuals like you come in. The food you eat, appliances you use and the way you commute and spend your holidays all have an impact on the planet, so changing your behavior can make a big difference. Here are a few tips for fighting climate change in your everyday life: