A recent wave of articles has revealed just how wasteful Hong Kongers are when it comes to food. “The Food Chain,” in an April edition of HK Magazine, brought the appalling food waste levels in our city to public attention, and highlighted various local efforts to reverse this trend. And just last week, Friends of the Earth (HK) did an exposé of the magnitude of the food waste generated by major HK supermarkets. The FoE (HK) article revealed that the weight of the food supermarket chains throw away in a year is equivalent to 2,000 double-decker buses; and much of what is tossed out is undeniably edible food—food that has not expired and could have gone to those in need.
As a city, we pride ourselves on our vibrant dining industry—its diverse selection of cuisines, high standards of quality, and constant stream of new offerings. But it’s clear that when it comes to the issue of food waste, we have nothing to brag about.
To all Hong Kong food-lovers out there: it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We recognize that food waste and global food imbalance is a large, systemic issue; but as I asserted yesterday, that is not a reason to give up, or to forget that change can start with small choices made by conscientious individuals (that’s US!).
Next time you dine out, be conscious of what you leave behind on your plate. If you can’t finish your food, just ask for a take-out box. Here in Hong Kong, there can be a bit of a stigma attached to “doggy bags”; but if we all work together, we can make “Dar Bao” (Cantonese term for take-out) a lasting trend. In the UK, the Sustainable Restaurant Association recently launched a “Too Good To Waste” campaign, providing participating restaurants with lovely biodegradable boxes, and asking diners to support the reduction of food waste by taking home leftovers. The restaurants earn some goodwill, diners get to make a stand against food waste, and (most importantly!) less waste goes to the landfill – everyone wins! Today, tomorrow, or whenever you next dine out, be a part of starting a similar movement in Hong Kong. Let’s make our city’s food culture one we can be truly proud of—from top to bottom.