Ditch Disposable under COVID-19
An environmental hazard is rising in the midst of the pandemic, more than 100 million pieces of disposable cutlery and plastic bags are estimated to be disposed of every week in Hong Kong! While we take good care of our health, we also have to be mindful of the impact we cause to our environment. Many measures have been taken by the university to ensure the campus is a safe environment for teaching and learning. Under these measures, how can we still manage to be environmentally conscious and avoid producing disposable waste on campus?
Always BYO reusable bottled water!
Staying hydrated is essential to be healthy and strong! Under the pandemic, many water dispensers on campus and around town have been closed to avoid hygiene hazards, but over 50 water dispensers are still open on campus! Check out the HKU Water Dispenser Map under COVID-19 to find their locations. So, always bring along a reusable bottle and refill at a clean and reliable source. Only drink from your own bottle. Bring a slightly bigger bottle to stay fully hydrated throughout the day.
If you must buy a drink... Recycle!
On hot summer days, we often like to buy cold drinks from retailers or vending machines. Under the Disposable Plastic Free Campus Policy, effective on September 1st, 2020, single-use plastic bottles of 1 litre or less will be banned for sale and distribution, but you can still find drinks in other disposable containers at retail outlets. If you must buy a drink on campus, make sure the item can be and is properly recycled after use. Check out more about recycling on campus here.
The Disposable Plastic Free Campus Policy bans the sale and distribution of single-use plastic food service ware, they will be switched to disposables of other material.
According to the catering team, while catering outlets on campus welcome customers to bring-your-own (BYO) food containers, certain outlets had stopped receiving customer’s own utensils into the food production area due to personal health and food safety concerns. Customers are advised to approach individual outlets for details. Generally, most canteens still accept BYO, and Bijas Vegetarian Restaurant even offers a $3 discount! Make sure you clean your reusable box properly before and after use. If BYO is not possible, try to order meals with less items so that less disposable containers are needed.
You can always avoid using disposable utensils by BYO reusable utensils! Remember to remind the staff at the outlet to not give you any! Again, remember to wash your reusable items regularly and thoroughly for safety!
Always bring along a reusable bag in case you need to do some grocery shopping on your way. It will also come in handy when you are buying takeaways with many items (e.g. rice, soup, drinks).
To protect ourselves and others, we must wear face masks in public areas. Consider using a reusable mask, but take precaution and seek advice from professionals. You can find tips on disinfecting and reusing masks here, and more information about reusable masks developed by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University here.
The guidelines on infection control measures for HKU events (with effect from September 1, 2020 until further notice) states that food and drinks should not be allowed at events. Disposable food and beverage containers and utensils will thus be unnecessary for events for the time being. If you are organising a face-to-face event, remind your guests to bring their own reusable bottled water!