By Gemma Dignam (University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
One of my favourite parts of living in Hong Kong was the food, but I quickly realised that the food and eating culture here was not very sustainable. It was quite different to my experience in the UK, where I would cook at home and eat out very little. However, in Hong Kong it’s the opposite! Grocery shopping is quite expensive and the kitchen space is quite small in any accommodation, and this along with a busy schedule would mean that most meals you tend to eat out, as this is quite cheap. However, I did notice it came with some environmental costs.
Here are a few things I experienced and what tips I can give to eat more sustainably in Hong Kong, or wherever you go abroad:
Grocery shopping in Hong Kong is a lot more expensive than in the UK and you won’t find yourself cooking or buying a lot of food. However, when you do find yourself buying some groceries, there are some things you can do to be more environmentally friendly.
- Avoid buying fruits and vegetables packaged in plastic individually- or go to the local wet markets to cut down on plastic and support local businesses
- Try to bring your own bag and avoid buying a plastic one
One of the issues with eating out most days would be that it involves a lot of plastic packaging from take away boxes and cutlery. Most campus dining options would provide recyclable boxes and cutlery, however, a lot of local restaurants I ate at would not. Some things to keep in mind:
- Eat in the restaurants when possible to avoid take out packaging
- Choose not to take the plastic cutlery they give you if you take out your food and use your own
- If you need to deliver food, try to pick a restaurant close by so you can pick up the order yourself and save a delivery driver’s journey- Hong Kong has so many restaurants in close proximity to accommodation and campus so take advantage of this!
- In Hong Kong it was quite hard to avoid meat with little options for vegetarians or vegans, although I had friends who managed, it was a bit more difficult to find
- Choose local restaurants- it’s cheaper, more authentic and a new experience
I also encountered a few restaurants in Hong Kong that were dedicated to sustainability that you can support:
- Locofama- Conveniently located close to HKU and has great salad bowls made from local, organic produce
- MANA!- Sells flatbreads, burgers, wraps and salads with a focus on zero waste and responsible sourcing
- Treehouse- This restaurant serves plant-based flatbreads, burgers and juices. It has a composting station and recycling station in the restaurant to commit to sustainability
Overall, I would say that it is quite difficult to eat sustainably in Hong Kong without putting in a bit of effort and cost. However, despite this, food was one of the highlights of my exchange in Hong Kong and I tried a lot of great dishes. My personal favourites to anyone visiting would be Fresco Dim Sum and Bafang dumplings!