Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Have an Eco-conscious Christmas

No, it doesn’t feel like winter at all, and it is really quite a bummer for those of us who aren’t used to spending Christmas like our counterparts in the Southern Hemisphere do. But who can we blame but ourselves, for the greenhouse gases that are causing global warming?

It’s not too late – we hope – to go green, especially during festivities like Christmas, when we tend to consume more than we normally do. Here are a few tips on an eco-conscious Christmas.

1. The Tree: We still remember the excitement of putting up the tree and decorating it with all things imaginable when we were young. But disposing of the tree is always a problem. If you’re going for real trees, know that Hong Kong Environmental Protection Association runs a collection programme where unwanted Christmas trees are taken to a recycling centre in Tuen Mun, and turned into organic fertiliser used to promote green projects at schools.

2. Gifting: You’ve probably realised that the older you grow, the things that you want for Christmas tend not to be things that money can buy. For many of us, in fact, a hearty home-cooked dinner with family and friends is a gift in itself. But if you must buy a gift, make it a meaningful purchase – buy from fair trade, ethical and environmentally responsible producers, or better still, sponsor an endangered animal or a sustainable programme.

3. Wrapping: I don’t know many people who would actually keep the wrappers, except artists who repurpose the wrappers, so if you must wrap your gifts, use recycled paper or newspaper.

4.  The feast: Naturally, you would want to spoil your loved ones at the dining table, but make sure you buy only what you can consume, and nothing goes to waste. There are umpteen ways to recycle the remnants of your Christmas feast, all it takes is a little creativity! Also, source locally to minimise your carbon footprint. While you’re at it, make sure the utensils and plates are reusable or biodegradable.  

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

How Would You Like a Landfill Salad?

Credit: Huff Post Good News, UN Spokesperson’s twitter

Curious about what a landfill salad consists of? Apparently it’s made with vegetable scraps, rejected apples and pears, and chickpea water. Together with the ‘burger and fries’ made with off-grade vegetables, repurposed bread bun, bruised beet ketchup, picked cucumber scraps, and cow corn fries, the landfill salad was served to Ban Ki-moon – yes, the United Nations Secretary-General, and about 30 world leaders including French President Francois Hollande, at a high-level working lunch at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York last month. 

The menu was the brainchild of award-winning chef Dan Barber, and former executive director of first lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign, Sam Kass. The menu was so designed to hammer home the point of food waste as an ‘overlooked aspect of climate change’, with food manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal consuming an exponential amount of energy, mostly derived from fossil fuels, which is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

If you ask me, I think similar food waste menus should be served to all and not just world leaders to cultivate the habit of sustainable food consumption, as well as raising awareness of the sheer amount of food we dump into the landfill on a daily basis. Here’s the thing: most of the foods that are dumped are still perfectly good to eat, and just as nutritious as their better-looking counterparts; they’re dumped because advertisers and marketers tell us that the foods are too ugly to be presentable. But that doesn’t make sense, especially if you come to think of the time, energy and effort put into growing food.

So, what’s on your food waste menu tonight? 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Live Off-grid in an Egg

Credit: Ecocapsule

It comes with the tagline ‘Dwelling with the spirit of freedom’, and we have to agree, because what is off-grid eco-living if not ‘freedom’?

Measuring 4.5 metres in length, 2.4 metres in width, and 2.5 metres in height, the Ecocapsule, designed by Nice Architects, features a total usable floor space of 8 square-metres, comfortably sufficient for two adults. Despite being a portable home that boasts an ‘immense off-grid life span, worldwide portability and flexibility’, the Ecocapsule is equipped with a folding bed, two large operable windows, a working/dining area, shower and flushable toilet, built-in kitchenette with running water, and even storage space. The eco-friendly part of Ecocapsule is that it is powered by a built-in 750W wind turbine and a 2.6-square-metre array of high-efficiency solar cells; in times of low solar and wind activity, the egg-shaped portable home will stay operable with a high-capcity battery (9,744Wh). The rounded shape is more than just aesthetics issue, but also for rainwater collection optimisation. Weighing 1,500 kilograms, the Ecocapsule can easily fit inside a standard shipping container, meaning you can ship it to your travel destination for a green escape, instead of booking yourself into a hotel.

The price is expected to be announced end of the year, and meanwhile, Nice Architects are looking into further reducing the size and weight of the pod for easier transportation. So eco-fancy, don’t you think? 

Last Living 9/11 Search and Rescue Dog Gets Big Birthday Surprise

Credit: BarkPost

I couldn’t wait to write this piece when I stumbled across this story, and I knew you would want to hear about Bretagne the dog’s birthday surprise too, as I finished reading the story with tears welling up my eyes.

16-year-old Bretagne is a golden retriever that was one of the search and rescue dogs that helped saved lives in the wake of 9/11, and what makes her special is that she is the last one known living, which is why BarkPost reached out to 1 Hotel Central Park to throw a big birthday surprise for the hero dog. What happened was Bretagne and her handler and mum Denise Corliss, both members of Texas Task Force 1, were flown to New York to be received by 1 Hotel Central Park, where they were escorted to a room equipped with a comfortable dog bed and lavished with dog treats and toys; Bretagne even got to dive into a gourmet burger especially made and delivered through room service. The duo were then taken around New York City – the city they served 12 years ago – on a vintage yellow cab, where they stopped by a park and were greeted by New Yorkers who wished to express their gratitude. The day ended with a surprise birthday party at the hotel, where Bretagne got to pick her favourite toy and tuck into the birthday cake.

So it’s not some heart-wrenching story, I know, but it’s one that makes you cry happy tears nonetheless (I did anyway) because a dedicated working dog definitely deserves the best! 

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Perfect Working Holiday for Booklovers

Credit: The Open Book

Booklovers rejoice, as we’ve got the perfect working holiday for you! The travel destination? Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town.

A listing on Airbnb, The Open Book is a bookshop with an apartment above that enables you to manage the bookshop for a week or two while paying a minimal fee for your stay, as The Open Book is a non-profit. The residency programme was created by The Wigtown Festival Company to celebrate bookshops and encourage education in running independent bookshops.

If you’re planning to travel light, no worries, as a laptop and Wi-Fi will be provided should you want to connect with the outside world during your stay. Bicycles are also available if you wish to explore the National Book Town’s breathtaking scenery, such as Galloway, ancient woodlands, castles, whisky distillery, nature preserves and farms.

New to the town? Fret not, as there is a team of volunteers to make sure your stay is free of hassle, and a bookseller will be there too to offer you an orientation. Sounds an ace holiday idea, no? Seriously, nothing beats manning a bookshop by the sea! 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Conscientious Consumption in Hong Kong

Credit: A Boy Named Sue

So here are two things we didn’t know for sure until last week: (1) our current system allows pretty much every corporation to externalise both environmental and social costs; and (2) when you took the externalised costs into effect, essentially none of the industries is actually making a profit. So yes, what you suspected for quite a while is now official. And do you know what we can do to change this collective level of hypocrisy that’s sweet-talking us into believing our money is invested in a sustainable future while it isn’t? Support brands that are making actual social and environmental effort, and who are being transparent about it.

A Boy Named Sue is an ace brand to start with. With its vision conceptualised at a faux French café in Hong Kong in 2012, A Boy Named Sue is the brainchild of Sam Wong, a Parsons NY graduate with a degree in fashion and sustainable design, and Tania Reinert-Shchelkanovtseva, a London School of Economics and Political Science graduate who was looking for a solution to Hong Kong’s pollution problems. Called ‘cool clothes with a conscience’, the brand’s garments are sourced from all over the world, by designers and brands that are committed to upcycling, ethical business practices, and natural, toxic-free manufacturing process.

Similarly, PhatRice is an online shopping platform that showcases designers and brands that are known for their social and environmental initiatives, such as Portovelo, which is dedicated to combating child poverty by seasonal partnerships with charity organisations, who in turn benefit from consumers’ purchase of Portovelo’s shoes; Shark Savers, which is on a mission to save sharks and mantas through building awareness and education, and sales of its eco-leather card holders; and Handsome Co, Hong Kong’s own design consultancy that upcycles discarded parts of old taxis into new products.

For the home, consider Bamboa, a brand and resident in PMQ that carries products made from locally harvested bamboo, made by local communities throughout Asia. A fan of yoga? Make your mindful pursuit an environmentally conscious one too by supporting A Day with Fé’s eco luxe yoga pants, composed of recycled polyamide such as fishing nets. Meanwhile, outdoorsy types will love EARTH.er’s outwear and sportswear, made from used or wasted fabrics, as the brand strives for zero environmental damage and wastage while implementing fair trade practices.

There really isn’t a dearth of options when it comes to conscientious consumption in Hong Kong, so go explore! 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Get Your Parcel Delivered by Your Neighbour’s Car

Credit: Roadie

You’d be no stranger to the Uber affair in Hong Kong lately. Whatever your stance in this issue, this article is not about passenger-carrying Uber or Lyft or the likes, but the cargo version of Uber, more like.

Meet Roadie, an app that claims to be the first neighbour-to-neighbour shipping network, created by a man called Marc Gorlin, who thinks that the cargo space of your car can be put to better use by helping to deliver something that needs to go in the same direction that you’re going. The way Roadie works is simple: you take a photo of the item that you want delivered (as long as it fits into a car or truck), put in details about the location of the item, and Roadie will provide registered users who are going to that direction and willing to help out. By delivering the item, the Roadie (registered user who does the delivery) gets paid a fee which can be used to cover the cost of gas for the trip, even though he/she is going to that direction anyway.

There’s also an eco-friendly side to Roadie too, as now that it is delivered in a car, it doesn’t really need packaging. “We say your cargo can ride commando,” said Gorlin. “It actually can – it’s not going to have to bounce through four trucks and an airplane to get there. It’s going to sit in a blanket safely in my backseat. You’re reducing packaging materials by at least 80%.”  

How does the idea sound to you, Hongkongers? Perhaps not too useful for those living on outlying islands like Lamma Island, where delivery from the city is almost non-existent?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Let Kids be Kids

Credit: Upworthy, ideas.ted.com

Do you remember how life was like as a kindergartener? I do, vaguely. It was the most fancy-free time of my life to be honest, not having a care about the world, homework was minimal and in the form of colouring sheets if any; Friday was invariably play day so we were allowed to get up and down on slides and run around until tea time. I don’t think kids these days would believe what I say though, for they seem to be robbed of their childhood what with the pressure on their parents’ shoulders, which is passed on to these little humans who have only just managed to walk in a balanced manner.

I do not have kids. One of the gazillion reasons being the expectations schools and society have on children these days: from kindergarten onwards they are pushed beyond their limits to fare well academically, so much so that they are deprived of the right to be children – roll in the sand, chase after each other for no apparent reasons, and play according to their own schedule. Educators and parents alike seem to have lost sight on what is best for children.

Fortunately enough, there are educators behind the Fuji Kindergarten outside Tokyo, whose desire for children to be children materialised by the design executed by Tokyo-based firm Tezuka Architects. Put simply, the Fuji Kindergarten is an endless playground, with trees growing right through classrooms. The school is especially designed as a circle and the roof as a giant ring of playground to let kids run around literally forever, until they have had enough of it. With the light structure that is the kindergarten built around a big tree, kids are encouraged to climb up to the classroom if they wish. Oh, and there is a water sink in each classroom to foster the children version of water-cooler talk.

To quote the principal: “I don’t train them (children). We leave them on top of the roof, like sheep, and they will keep running.” And that is precisely the kind of school life a kindergartener deserves.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Park Your Dogs While You Shop

Credit: The Barking Garage

We’ve heard enough of negligent dog parents who leave their pups in overheated cars as they shop in air-conditioned malls. It’s heartbreaking to say the least, and if we’re honest, to have to make laws to forbid dog parents from doing so is the least we want to face about the ugly side of humanity.

Thankfully enough, there are always people coming up with solutions to prevent something tragic from happening, as a result of the parents’ thoughtlessness, such as IKEA’s dog park, and recently, The Barking Garage, a company created by an Austin woman called Mary Traverse, who is a chiropractor for both humans and dogs. By converting a bright yellow car hauler into a temporary doggie day care, The Barking Garage is now up and running, opening between 10am and 6pm on Saturday, 11am and 4pm on Sunday, at the Gateway Shopping Center at the corner of US 183 and N Capital of TX Highway (loop 360) in Austin, Texas. Inside the car hauler are individual kennels, ensuring safety and comfort of the pups in the climate-controlled facility, attended by one of their dog-loving associates. The kennel rental rates are hourly, with a half-hour minimum and 15-minute increments.

While we’re happy that someone like Mary has stepped up to save the pups from the heat, we still can’t quite understand why anyone would bring their pups to where they aren’t allowed inside. Why not leave the pups at home anyway? 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Shame On Who?

What happened at 9:25pm, 28 July 2015: dozens of students stormed the conference room at University of Hong Kong (HKU) where a closed-door meeting of the HKU Council was held and arrived at the decision to defer the appointment of a new pro-vice chancellor, after it was deferred last month. From the live news, we could see that as Billy Fung Jing-en, President of HKU’s student union, re-entered the conference room after a bathroom break, the students, previously protesting outside the conference room, also followed him into the room, and that’s how the chaos unfolded. Disruption to the meeting began as the students shouted “Shame on you!” at the council members. Amidst the chaos created by the students, Dr Lo Chung-mau, one of the HKU Council members who supported the deferral, was seen collapsing on the ground, the cause of his collapse is unclear, however. Students were heard calling Dr Lo’s collapse a fake flop, telling him to play football for Manchester United, some even threw in obscenities.

Besieged by the students, Dr Lo and the other council members were told by Yvonne Leung Lai-kwok, former President of HKU’s student union, that a path could be opened up for Dr Lo to leave the conference room for medical assistance, if all Council members went back to their seats, and provided no council members made an attempt to ‘escape’ the conference room.  What Leung also added was an appeal for the journalists to leave the conference room. In the end, council members Dr Lo and Ayesha Mcpherson were sent to the hospital, but not before one of the ambulances was barricaded by the students, and plastic water bottles hurled at Dr Lo.

While the causes of Dr Lo’s collapse remains unclear, the fact that the students prioritised their appeal (the revisit of the decision to defer appointment of pro-vice chancellor) over the wellbeing of a person goes on to show the younger generations’ fast dwindling respect for other people. And since when has disruptive behavior become the norm, the way to get your message across? It certainly brings back memories of the National Education protest and the Occupy Central sit-in: disrupt orders, not make compromises to seek mutual agreement, when you come across something that displeases you.

If I get to ask the students one question, it would be: Will you happily back down if the HKU Council appoints the pro-vice chancellor right now, except that that person won’t be Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun, as has been recommended for the post? Would that be political interference no more? That the students seem hung up about the appointment of Professor Johannes Chan, the rationale largely unknown, does boggle the mind.  

When asked about the chaos caused by the students at the council meeting, Billy Fung was quoted as saying, there isn’t anywhere the students can’t go at the university, because the university belongs to the students. What Billy Fung might have thought of as a witty excuse is really a statement that defies common sense. Think about this: Does it mean I can just walk into a random stranger’s home in Hong Kong because Hong Kong belongs to all Hongkongers? The reality that increasingly eludes young people these days is that there is law and order in society. What this means is, just because you are upset or dissatisfied about something doesn’t give you the right to breach law and order with impunity, such as illegally blocking major motorways or breaking into closed-door meetings uninvited. So widely glorified and yet so pathetic is such disruptive and rogue behaviour, with a disregard for other people’s rights and lack of intention to seek common grounds, among young adults these days.

For a person supposedly equipped with tertiary education, one would expect a more civilised way of engagement than a forced shut-in of council members who were verbally abused by students, not to mention their meeting adjourned because the students were displeased with the decision. The future of Hong Kong is fairly worrying, if these students are the leaders of our future.

Turning Food Waste into Nutritional Powder

Credit: Fast Coexist

Sorry to be talking about food waste again, but it IS a big issue, an ironic one at that too, with approximately 791 million people in developing countries going hungry while those in developed countries dump hundreds of thousands of tonnes of food waste into the landfill on a daily basis. The good news, however, is that individuals and organisations worldwide are increasingly devising ways to tackle the problem, not least by turning food that is intended for the landfill into something useful.

A Swedish startup, for instance, is drying fruits that are about to go bad into a nutritional powder called FoPo, which can be mixed with water or sprinkled on yoghurt or ice cream. According to Kent Ngo, one of the founders of FoPo, the shelf life of fruits can be extended from two weeks up to two years simply by drying them. Incidentally, the drying process can retain between 30% and 80% of the original nutritional value, and the fact that the fruits are now in powder form means easier logistics – they can be shipped to people living in hunger in parts of the world. Also, refrigeration, which could be an issue due to lack of electricity supply in developing countries, is not necessary for the fruits, now in powder form.

The founding students from Lund University in Sweden will be piloting FoPo this summer in the Philippines, where an enormous amount of food grown is wasted because of poor storage and transport. Who knows, food in powder form could be the food of the future if we’re to live sustainably. 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Taste Your Way Around Hong Kong

Credit: Hong Kong Foodie

It goes without saying that Hong Kong is a heaven for foodies with the plethora of cuisines that it offers – and at reasonable prices too. Yet its great culinary diversity available at numerous establishments also means that Hong Kong can really confuse first-timers to the city, especially those with limited time to roam the city – you’d want to get the best bang for your buck, naturally. This is where Hong Kong Foodie comes in handy.

Led by a team of adventurous, uncompromising and professional Foodie Guides, Hong Kong Foodie’s walking tours are designed to take participants off the beaten path for some of the city’s favourite, longest-standing eateries to eat like a local. The 12-pax Central and Sheung Wan Foodie Tour, for instance, will whisk you off to six locations for food and drink tastings at 2:15pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, and charges HKD720 per adult or HKD520 per child aged between five and 14. But the tour is more than just about stuffing your face – the guide will also take you through historical architectures in that part of Hong Kong. The Sham Shui Po and Tai Po Market foodie tours, meanwhile, will entice you with even more down-to-earth tastes of Hong Kong.

So yep, it’s really about walking and munching around the city. And seriously, why not?

Friday, 24 July 2015

Getaway and Have a Taste of Minimalist Living

Credit: Getaway

To a local Hongkonger, a ‘tiny house’ may not carry much of a positive connotation, considering that much of the city live in shoebox-sized apartments as a result of land scarcity and astronomical property prices. Yet with an increasing awareness on the benefits of minimalist living, tiny houses have recently acquired a rather different status worldwide, and start-ups like Getaway are opening up opportunities to interested individuals for a taste of minimalist living.

Launched at Harvard’s Innovation Lab, Getaway offers the chance to try living in a tiny house for a night or a weekend with its 160-square-foot, off-grid tiny house in the woods near Boston, before people make up their mind on whether they really want to live in a tiny house. The houses will be placed on land leased from local landowners, who don’t get to earn much from their land otherwise. The house, mind, is not built into the ground but rather a mobile home that is complete with solar power and composting toilets, and can be assembled in an hour, or driven away, leaving zero traces behind, when needs be. With their location completely secluded in the natural setting, equipped with comfortable beds, propane stove, and accessible just two hours’ drive from the city, these houses offer a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city – start campfires under the stars with freshcut firewood, or bike in the woods if you wish. Getaway also makes sure it is a sustainable business too, by investing money from you into the locals whose land makes Getaway possible.

So, what do you reckon? 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Pot Calling…

Credit: weekendhk.com

Upon coming home the other night, amidst the familiar chaos left behind by the cats during the day, I noticed something unusual: a pair of black Nike Roshe Run. I don’t mean predominantly black, but 100%, inside-out black. The pair that the boyfriend especially custom-made with NikeLab, out of his love of all things black, and his frustration that the blackest Nike Roshe Run would still come with a white rubber sole.

I can’t help but wonder if it’s this same penchant for the colour black that led the owner of Kettle Black to create a black menu, showcasing black ingredients the likes of squid ink, black garlic, charcoal bread and black truffles. You’ll sure be amazed by the Kettle Black Fried Chicken (HKD68) that look like charcoal pieces but are in fact fried with homemade charcoal-breadcrumb. The onion soup (HKD68) is also given a twist and presented with a black charcoal toast, layered with mozzarella and foie gras. A more filling option will be the foie gras and Wagyu burgers (HKD148) sandwiched with charcoal buns, served with fries and kimchi sauce. For that perfect beverage to wash down the food, get a bottle of the New Zealand-brewed Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black beer (HKD75).

So yep, a black-themed fare has just opened in the city, in case you’re stuck for outlets to get your black fix. 

Location: G/F, 198 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3628 2238
Opening Hours: 8am to 11pm (Monday to Saturday), 11am to 11pm (Sunday)

Monday, 20 July 2015

Adopt, Don’t Buy

Credit: SCMP

I’ve always loved dogs as a child. And while my parents weren’t entirely ‘struggling’ with finance, we were neither so well-off to afford a pet dog in our household, adoption was the only financially viable option. I remember visiting the small, dimly lit office of the then-RSPCA on Princess Margaret Road one Sunday. Dad told us that we were going to see if there was any chance we could adopt a dog. As a primary school pupil I was naïve enough to think that we could just bring home a dog on that day, so imagine the excitement I could barely contain. But my dream was soon shattered, as the soft-spoken officer said he would put us on a waiting list – with the size of our apartment, we were deemed suitable for a small dog, and like all animal shelters, it’s always the mid-sized or bigger dogs that are harder to be adopted. We hadn’t a clue how long we would have to wait, nor was the officer able to promise anything. The uncertainty was too much for me, and I was on the verge of crying.
I can’t remember the exact length of time in between, but my life changed forever on the day when I, then a primary three pupil, performed as a member of the school choir on graduation day. My family came to see my performance and when I met them outside the hall afterwards, my sister was flinging her arms and legs, asking if I’d seen her lipping the ‘good news’ for me. Of course I couldn’t see that from so far up the stage, but that didn’t matter anymore, because RSPCA called to say that they had our dog. It turned out dad had made a visit to the RSPCA before the graduation ceremony, and was given two options of adoptable dogs: one an extremely friendly and energetic mid-sized terrier-mix, and the other an older Yorkshire terrier that was a bit mangy and wouldn’t come out from the corner of the kennel. The terrier-mix was so friendly that he had paw prints all over my dad’s suit pants in a minute, but dad reckoned it was best for us to start with a smaller dog first.

We named the Yorkie Jimmy. We were told that he was four years old, but looking back he might have been older than that, and his age was tweaked to make the grumpy dog more adoptable. We were soon able to tell that Jimmy’s previous owner must have trained him very well: Jimmy would never pee in the home, not until we took him for a walk twice a day, and if he really couldn’t hold it, he would release himself inside the bathtub. He would never wander too far from us either, and he made sure to be there offering consolation whenever my sister and I fought over something silly. From his initial shyness and withdrawn character, we knew street life had taken its psychological toll, and physical toll too, from the bit of his ear that was bitten off. But Jimmy soon warmed up to us and embraced us as his family. He would be waiting by the door around 15 minutes before dad was due to be home from work every evening, and he once barked three mongrels away to protect dad on one of the evening walks, when dad was still devising an escape plan with Jimmy. Jimmy had brought us so much joy till the end, and we can easily be one of those who testify to the fact that rescued dogs repay your love by heaps and bounds.

We’ve had two more Yorkies after Jimmy. Jesper was given to us by a distant relative who only discovered their son’s allergy to animal hair after buying the adorable puppy, and Toffee was adopted from an animal rescue organisation who took over the poor girl after she was abandoned by a puppy mill. She was eight years old then. Toffee’s story broke our hearts: she was kept in a cage for much of her eight years of life, with no space to roam (which explains her deformed paws and why she doesn’t like to go for a walk), and was injected with so much medication that her skin became extremely sensitive. She would be on all fours at the smallest movement from us, but inheriting the dog’s virtue of living in the moment also means that she soon put her painful past behind her, and learnt to take all the love we were so ready to give her.

In case you’re wondering why I’m babbling about my family’s love of dogs, it’s because I’ve come across an SCMP feature on ‘The Hidden Plight of Production-line Pets’. That breeders are “churning out puppies like factory items” is no news, not since the 1980s, when the majority of Hongkongers have achieved such a level of affluence that enables them the luxury of a pet dog. And then all hell broke loose: with profits and profits alone in mind (the luxury pet trade is estimated to be worth HKD18 million a year), breeders would “keep animals in cages, stacked one on top of another, usually in small flats with no opportunity to exercise. They’ll be sitting in their own excrement.” according to Amanda Whitfort, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong, who is advocating to have the city’s animal welfare laws updated. It surely doesn’t help that there are loopholes in the city’s animal trading legislation, and lax enforcement means breeders still get to inflict cruelty on animals with impunity. Perhaps not surprisingly, while animal cruelty could result in three years of imprisonment and a fine of HKD200,000, sentences have been rather lenient so far. With the combination of the pet trade’s commodification of animals and irresponsible pet ownership, an estimated 5,000 dogs are euthanised by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department every year. That is heart-wrenching to say the least.

Yours truly is not going to let this end of a sad note, so the good news is a bill is expected to be put to the LegCo, after its summer break, to amend the animal trading law, so that the fine for illegal trading of animals will be raised from HKD2,000 to HKD10,000, and the penalty for breaking animal licensing laws will be a fine raised from HKD1,000 to HK$50,000. While such an amendment is more than welcome (not least because it’s long overdue), the best way to curb pet trade, such as puppy milling and kitty milling, is to adopt instead of buying pets. Here’s a list of organisations that go to lengths to rescue animals from the street or from the breeders, as well as to ensure the rescued animals will find a loving, caring home.

Lifelong Animal Protection Charity (LAP)
Hong Kong Dog Rescue
Hong Kong Animal Adoption Centre
Hong Kong Alley Cat Watch
Society for Abandoned Animals
Lamma Animal Welfare Centre
Kirsten’s Zoo

Friday, 17 July 2015

Come On, Hong Kong, You Can Do Better for the Elephants

Credit: SCMP

Not so long ago, yours truly happened upon a shop in Sheung Wan that claimed to sell ivory products from the trunks of mammoths. None of that made sense. Mammoth? And brazenly selling ivory products in broad daylight, when the city is believed to have illegalised both import and export of ivory without a licence 25 years ago? Ah, but then the owner probably has a licence, though why the licence was even issued is beyond me.

That the murder of elephants for their ivory is pushing many species towards extinction is a no-brainer, and it certainly boggles the mind that a city as civilised as Hong Kong is yet to join the global bandwagon in banning, once and for all, the trade of ivory. As if that isn’t embarrassing enough, Esmond Martin, one of the leading ivory researchers, has pointed out that “No other city surveyed has so many pieces of ivory on sale as Hong Kong.” The reason is simple: the lower taxes in Hong Kong make it cheaper to buy here, with tens of thousands of people crossing the border each year to buy ivory, according to SCMP.

The situation with the world’s elephants is alarming to say the least. To quote Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants, an organisation dedicated to securing a future for elephants and sustaining the beauty and ecological integrity of the places they live, “Africa’s elephants are in crisis, with 100,000 killed for their ivory in just three years between 2010 and 2012. Without better controls on Hong Kong’s shops and borders the ivory trade in the territory will continue to represent a major threat to survival of the species.” Yet in response, an agriculture department spokesman said, “There is no evidence showing that Hong Kong’s legal ivory trade contributes to the poaching of elephants in Africa or provides a cover for the laundering of smuggled illegal ivory. In fact, Hong Kong is not a destination for illegal ivory.”

I feel you if your blood is boiling too. What the agriculture department spokesman doesn't understand is that wherever there is demand, there will be supply. The point to consider for the agriculture department is perhaps: why is ivory trade still legal in Hong Kong, when the facts are pointing at the drastic decrease in elephant population worldwide, as a result of ivory trade. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Waste Not

Credit: SCMP

First it was the quote by Caribbean Chan Miu-yu, CEO of Food Angel, and then it was the story in the City section of 15 July’s SCMP that again alarmed me on the sheer amount of food waste Hong Kongers produce on a daily basis. According to Caribbean Chan, Hong Kong records around 3,600 tonnes of food waste every day but food rescue and assistance programme Food Angel can only rescue four tonnes max a day.

With the organic waste treatment facilities’ construction planned, with an expected capacity to treat 200 tonnes of food waste a day by 2016, recycling source-separated organic waste generated from the commercial and industrial sectors (mostly food waste) into useful products, we can only hope that this will truly be effective in lessening the stress on the city’s existing landfills, and turning Hong Kongers’ wasteful consumption habit into something useful. But let’s not forget, the most efficient way to combat food waste is always prevention and reduction at source.

But until then, we have NGOs and non-profits the likes of Food Angle and Feeding Hong Kong to thank, for collecting and redistributing surplus food to the people and organisations in need. Food Angel, for instance, collects raw ingredients from suppliers, supermarkets and wet markets, and prepares them into meals. It is currently providing 6,000 meals a day to low-income families with young children and homeless people, a huge jump from 30 meals a day when it was launched in 2011. With just a smidgen of our daily food waste sufficient to serve 6,000 meals, it goes on to show just how much food we dump into the landfills – good-quality food that is perfectly fine to eat. What it also shows is the failure of the government’s FoodWise campaign in an attempt to educate the public on purchasing less food.  

Discrediting the government’s effort is not my intention here, for we do need to be reminded, constantly, against food waste. But what Hong Kong lacks, compared to other more conservation-conscious countries, is conservation education that is actually included in the mainstream curriculum. Children need to be educated on the environmental impact their consumption habits have on this planet for them to grow into responsible, conscientious adults that would think twice before buying plastic bottled water, or leaving food uneaten. It may be a good idea too to let your children have a grasp of the hard work that goes into growing food, and Green Queen does a list of organic farms in Hong Kong from which you can choose from. 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

It’s Your Turn to be Pampered, Elephants

Credit: ElephantsWorld

Let’s hope this post is not going to make you cry like a banshee like it did me before I even started typing away. Getting you blubbering is certainly not my intention, it’s just that I reckon things like this is something we all need to know. So here we go.

Not sure if you’ve ever ridden on elephants while travelling in Thailand, yours truly didn’t, for she didn’t know if the elephants were duly rewarded for the hard work they did, day in, day out. And most of the time, they aren’t, not to mention the sheer level of abuse they’re put through at various kinds of businesses in Thailand (and the world over). In Thailand, specifically, approximately 100,000 elephants roamed in the country in 1900; today there are around 3,000 domestic and 2,000 in the wild. Whilst the elephants used to work closely with humans in the logging industry, the government’s ban on all logging activity in 1989, due to deforestation, has rendered many elephants ‘jobless’, and they were used to work in the tourism industry, such as trekking camps, circuses, and wandering the streets begging. Trekking camps pose great danger to the elephant’s health as, despite its size, the elephant’s back can hold up to just 100kg of load – imagine the load the elephants have to suffer when they carry the seat and passengers for 10 hours a day.

Fortunately – and this is where your faith in humanity is restored – some kind souls have founded the ElephantsWorld in 2008 as a retirement home for elephants that have been injured during their work, or are too old to continue with this type of work. Located 32km from the city of Kanchanaburi or 180km from Bangkok, the non-profit ElephantsWorld sees each of its 21 elephants assisted and cared for by volunteers, and houses are built for elephants that can’t bent their knees so that they can have a wall or pole to lean on to sleep.

Do consider a stay at ElephantsWorld and volunteer your help, such as walking the elephants in the forest (elephants sleep and eat in the forest in wet season) and bringing them back in the next day,cooking corn porridge for them, feeding them sticky rice balls and fruits and vegetables, as well as washing them in the river while giving them a good clean scrub. ElephantsWorld depends almost entirely on charity funding and visitors for revenue, so your visit matters more than you can imagine. Check out there different visit programmes, there’s bound to be one that suits your itinerary. And the best thing of all? You know you’ve helped instead of harmed these intelligent creatures by visiting ElephantsWorld! 

Friday, 10 July 2015

Peru Rewards Hikers with Spectacular Lodge

Credit: designboom, Natura Vive

There’s always a reason to go on a hike. Be it the breathtaking scenery, a breath of fresh air, or a walk down memory lane. And in Peru, the Natura Vive Skylodge is rewarding intrepid hikers with accommodation in one of the three transparent capsules that are 24 feet in length, eight feet in height and width, complete with four beds, a dining area, and a private bathroom that is separated from the bedroom with an insulated wall – only if you’re brave enough to climb 400 feet or hike a daunting trail using ziplines though.

Handcrafted with aerospace aluminium and weather-resistant polycarbonate, the suites, hanging off a cliff, come with six windows and four ventilation ducts that ensure comfort in the internal area, plus lighting system powered by solar panels. If you wish, you may draw the curtains on the dome for privacy from the curious gaze of your ‘neighbours’ – the passing condors. The semi-open toilet, incidentally, offers a view of the Peruvian landscape. And the fact that the lodge is located in the Sacred Valley of Cuzco means the view of the magnificent mystic valley is also complimentary. With the provision of fine-quality mattresses, cotton sheets, down pillows and quilts, you can rest assured that being in the wild doesn’t have to mean compromising on comfort.

So here’s this amazing offer by Natura Vive, as if there aren’t enough reasons to entice you to book your flight to Peru.  

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Deal with Your Monthly the Eco-friendly Way

Credit: THINX, Fast Company

Sorry blokes, this is an exclusively female article but the story of this alternative to the menstrual pad is worth a read nonetheless. According to unofficial research, women on average spend approximately seven years on dealing with menstruation, assuming it starts at age 12 and ceases at 55. That’s a lot of time, not to mention the sheer amount of pads or tampons dumped into the landfill.
In an attempt to make the monthly less insufferable and more eco-friendly, sisters Radha Agrawal and Miki Agrawal and their friend Antonia Dunbar took matters in their own hands and created THINX, a period underwear that has won award and its own patented technology, and – more importantly – that keeps you clean and dry during those seven days every month. Despite its physical similarities to the normal knickers, THINX has all the qualities to keep you dry even when you’ve had a spill, fight bacteria with an invisible silver treatment, hold up to two tampons’ worth of liquid, and it is leak-resistant to make sure even your white pants are safe. The fact that THINX has a top layer that wicks all liquid into the super thin absorption layer right beneath it means that THINX can be worn all day long, without the need for a change during the day. What’s more, THINX comes in three different styles (thong, cheeky, hiphugger) with varying levels of absorbency and areas of protection, so as to ensure absolute peace of mind.

THINX’s eco-friendliness aside, this result of the founders’ three years’ worth of research is deserving of support because, as a brand, THINX is committed to breaking the taboo surrounding menstruation, through the reimagination of feminine hygiene products to provide support, comfort, confidence and peace of mind. Oh, and for every piece of THINX purchased, the company would donate seven pieces of recyclable pads, called the ‘Afripads’, to women in undeveloped countries to help lessen the pressure on insufficient resources. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A Sweatshirt That’s Built to Last

Credit: The 30 Year Sweatshirt

Unless you’re frugal like my father, chances are that you have a seasonal change of clothes, partly to manifest that you’re in the trend instead of out, partly because of natural wear and tear. To quote my father, clothes and shoes and bags (a.k.a. his briefcase) shouldn’t require often changes if you pay enough attention to their maintenance. And he speaks as he finds, as a man that owns shirts, suits, and leather shoes that are over 10 years old and still in pristine condition.

Increasingly, people are coming to the realisation that my father is right. Of course they don’t know my father personally, but it’s the rationale that he upholds regarding consumption: spend only when necessary to conserve the earth’s resources and minimise our waste to the planet. And that is how The 30 Year Sweatshirt was born.

Currently pledging funds on kickstarter, The 30 Year Sweatshirt is the brainchild of UK menswear designer Tom Cridland, who believes the prevailing trend of built-in obsolescence – big fashion powerhouses’ practice of making their clothing fragile enough to get their customers to return and buy more – has to stop, because “our natural resources deserve a higher level of respect and so do you”. And so he embarked on the mission to prove that clothing can, and should, last a lifetime.
The 30 Year Sweatshirt, as it turns out, is made with Cridland’s partnership with a group of old school Portuguese craftsmen, who have been hand-making clothing since 1964, to create a premium knit crewneck sweatshirt that is made ethically with organic cotton, crafted out of luxury fabric from only the finest quality yarn, and backed with a 30-year guarantee. If you’re worried a sweatshirt that is built to last a lifetime will end up making you look naff, know that Cridland has made clothing for Leonardo Di Caprio, Ben Stiller, Stephen Fry, Hugh Grant, Robbie Williams, Nigel Olsson, Daniel Craig, just to name a few from the designer’s star-studded client list.

By supporting Cridland’s project you’ll also be supporting a change towards sustainable fashion, and you’ll be rewarded with the cutting out of GBP75 of pointless retail markups, so that your sweatshirt will be delivered to your door at just GBP55.

Onion, My Saviour

I’m probably going to sound like an onion marketer or sales agent, but do bear with me. So what happened is, for the past three months or so – the time we started have to turn on the air conditioner at all times due to the unbearable heat of Hong Kong’s unforgivingly hot summer – I’ve been woken by the desperate urge to cough, complicated with an extremely stuffy nose. The diabolical ‘routine’ took place at around 2am every night, and every time I’d have to go to the living room to unblock my nasal blockage, not really getting much sleep as the saga usually dies out at approximately 5am.

I’ve never had any nasal allergies so it goes without saying that I hadn’t an inkling whether an air purifier actually works. But we got one anyway, for a friend claims to have had similar symptoms but has been able to get undisrupted sleep once she got an air purifier. For a few days the air purifier seemed to save the day, and yet all of a sudden its effectiveness seemed to wear off as soon as its novelty. What we also tried was aromatherapy with peppermint but other than filling the apartment with refreshing scent, it was pretty much useless.

So last night, the boyfriend decided to take inspiration from his mother and use power of the onion. I’ve known of the bacteria-killing power of onion but I must have underestimated it in hindsight. We cut two onions in halves and put them under the bed, with one half right next to my pillow. And lo and behold, I woke up this morning, though not feeling like a Disney princess rising to birdsong, definitely more reinvigorated than I’d done in a long while, because I was able to sleep till the alarm was due to wake me.

Just my two cents. The onion doesn’t have to work for you, but at least for now, it is on my side. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Mighty Lemon

Credit: Ecozine

So your truly has started a new routine of daily lemon water intake in the hope of well, staying healthy and ridding my body of toxins – regular consumption of lemon-infused water is believed to be effective in preventing formation of kidney stones. And by end of the day, I’d use the lemon slices to clean the flask that I use to contain the lemon-infused water with. Turns out there’s a whole lot more things you can do with lemon, such as an all-natural odour-remover.

With half a lemon and ½ cup of water, you can make a chemical-free odour-remover and cleaner for your microwave oven, for instance. All you need to do is to squeeze the lemon juice into the water, heat it up in the microwave until it boils, and let it sit for five minutes and let the steam do the work. To bring back the glimmer in silverware, mix lemon juice and baking soda (4:1) and wipe the silverware with the mixture or let the silverware sit in the solution for three minutes. Got sweat stains on your clothes? No matter, add ½ cup of lemon juice into the water during the rinse cycle of your laundry, and the clothes will come out of the tumbler all bright and smelling fresh. Apparently, you can unclog and freshen drains with ½ cup of baking soda, ½ cup of white vinegar, and one cup of lemon juice too by simply pouring the baking soda down the drain, followed by vinegar, and the lemon juice at last.

The health benefits and household uses of this amazing citrus fruit is abundant, go explore, and stay clean and healthy the natural way!

Friday, 3 July 2015

Recycling Food Waste into Soup

Credit: Kromkommer

Did you know about 3,200 tonnes of food is wasted and dumped into the landfills in Hong Kong every day? If that doesn’t appall you, know that 30% to 50% of all the food in the world goes to waste, while 1 billion are starved. What you may not know is that approximately 5% to 10% of fruits and vegetables are wasted because of their looks – yes, thanks to an obsolete EU legislation that restricted the sale of wonky vegetables. But as awareness of sustainable development picks up the world over, individuals and nations are devising ingenious or pragmatic ways to rescue food waste, as an attempt to conserve the earth’s resources and create a sustainable future. First there was France’s unprecedented ban of food waste in supermarkets, and then there’s this brand called Kromkommer.

Literally ‘crooked cucumber’ in Dutch, Kromkommer is a brand started by two girls, Jente and Lisanne, who, when attempting to seek solutions for major environmental issues such as climate change and food waste, started collecting fruits and vegetables that were dumped because they were too small, too big, too crooked, had a funny shape or were unsold at a local market. Like any conscientious individual the two realised something had to be done, and in 2014, they started a crowdfunding campaign to bring the wasted fruits and vegetables back to the consumer with their own soup line. The campaign proved a massive success and the soup, made with rescued vegetables, is available at over 50 stores throughout the Netherlands. In fact, it was so successful that they managed to raise sufficient awareness of food conservation to sell a whopping 6,300kg of crooked vegetables and fruits that otherwise would have been dumped.

As consumers we need to acknowledge the fact that most wonky vegetables and fruits are just as fresh and tasty, and perfectly good to be eaten as their better-looking counterparts. If, god forbid, you need a reason to conserve food, try growing some tomatoes on your window sill. 

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Meet the New Superfood

Credit: Ecozine

For those health-conscious among you, the new kid on the superfood block is something you’d want to stock up on.

Called baobab, this superfood is derived from an ancient African tree known as The Tree of Life, which is celebrated for its health benefits and healing properties. As a fruit that is eaten cracked open and ground into powder, the baobab is 100% natural, vegan and gluten-free, and is free of additives or processed ingredients. What’s more, baobab has also six times more vitamin C than an orange, six times more potassium than a banana, twice as much calcium as milk, more soluble fibre than psyllium, and more magnesium than coconut water. True to its title as the new superfood, baobab is not just an ideal food ingredient, but in its oil form baobab also has a velvety feel to it, meaning it can easily serve as a skin hydrating product while preventing wrinkles and signs of ageing with its plentiful amount of vitamin A and E.

We know you must be wondering where in Hong Kong the baobab can be had. You may order online at Nice Things, or buy it at Anything but Salads (Sai Ying Pun), Healthy Chicken (Central), Organic Footmark (Ma On Shan and Mong Kok), Spicebox Organics (Sai Ying Pun), Maya Café (Wan Chai), IFC Foodlab (Fanling) and many more! 

Freelancing in Hong Kong

Credit: Fast Company, The Hive

In a recent survey done by online resource Contently, only 30.2% of the 643 freelancers interviewed said they would take a full-time job with identical pay and benefits, while 31.9% said they would decline the offer, and 37.9% replied with a ‘maybe’. It seems that freelancing is preferred as the mode of employment the world over, not least because of the flexibility it offers, even though that may mean unstable income.

In Hong Kong, there’s even the Hong Kong Freelancers Network which connect employers and freelancers, and freelance jobs have come to acquire its own categories at major recruitment sites the likes of Recruit.net and Careerjet.hk. As a response to the increasing desire for freelance job, work spaces where people can work, create and collaborate have also popped up all over the city. From The Hive, The Loft, 8080 Space to Hong Kong Commons and The Good Lab, freelancers in Hong Kong now no longer have to resort to cramped coffee shops to get their work done.

What are your thoughts on freelancing?  

Friday, 26 June 2015

Affordable Accommodation for Foreign Students in Hong Kong

Credit: Campus Hong Kong

Back at my previous job I was entrusted with the task of recruiting interns from overseas every summer. While most of the potential candidates, also HKID-holders, had their accommodation issue sorted by staying with their families and friends, there were occasionally those second or third culture kids in foreign countries, whose previous visits to Hong Kong were at least a decade ago, and who have not even distant relatives to speak of in Hong Kong. As the person who had to give them a vague inkling of the average rent for a 'shoe box', which the interns would be calling temporary home for three months, I was invariably on the receiving end of dropped jaws and faces that looked just incredulous.

But that’s about to change, for a bit at least, with Campus Hong Kong. With priorities given to foreign exchange students at local universities, foreign students employed as interns at local companies, as well as local university students, Campus Hong Kong offers a total of 48 well-equipped and furbished rooms, each spanning 660-square-foot, offering plenty of space for four, and complete with en-suite bathroom, fully fitted kitchenette, refrigerator, high-speed Wi-Fi and many more. From the individual lockable drawers, study desk with chair, hanging rail, storage shelves and multi-socket and USB hub that come with each bed, to free access to the fitness centre, sauna and swimming pool, HKD190 per bed per day (HKD1,200 weekly and HKD4,000 monthly) is more than justifiable, considering the astronomical rents in Hong Kong.

And no, Campus Hong Kong is not located in some far-off places in the city where nobody speaks English. Just seven minutes away from MTR Tsuen Wan Station and Tsuen Wan West Station, Campus Hong Kong is fairly well connected by the city’s integrated public transportation. Oh, and as residents at Campus Hong Kong, you’ll be entitled to special benefits at designated stores at Discovery Park mall, such as discounts or complimentary gifts. 

Lamma Pet Nanny

Credit: Lamma Pet Nanny

If you’re anything like me, you’d be thinking about your pets at home every time you travel. It doesn’t matter how much good food you get to satisfy your insatiable appetite with, and it surely doesn’t matter how many great people you meet. So you may be awe-struck by the spectacular landscape but as you return to your space of accommodation at night, thoughts for your fur babies will always fill your mind. You’d find yourself wondering about their well-being, knowing that they’re thinking of you too.

Of course, you can always get a friend to drop by your house but that’s only if you’ve got an animal-loving friend who doesn’t mind spending hours playing and petting your pet; normally though, that charitable friend would only feed your pet, take it out for a walk, or clean the litter box and be gone.

As pet parents, you’d be envious of Lamma Island residents for they have the Lamma Pet Nanny, who has years of professional experience as a clinical veterinary nurse, and is experienced with taking care of animals with special needs. As a member of both Pet Sitters International and Hong Kong Veterinary NursingAssociation, Bee is also a Lamma Island resident, and owner of two cats, a dog, and a hamster. To put pet parents’ mind at ease, Bee also provides daily updates, medical support, grooming services, and complimentary simple housekeeping alongside professional pet sitting. The best thing of all? She charges only HKD150 per day, and HKD50 extra for each additional pet per day!

Sustainable Seafood Week

Credit: WWF-Hong Kong

So you knew Hong Kongers are mad about seafood, but did you know we also are the second-largest per capita consumer of seafood in Asia? From lobster served with e-fu noodles in cheesy sauce to the ordinary home-steamed fish, there isn’t a dearth of seafood traces in our staple diet. But as overfishing and overconsumption is pushing many marine species towards extinction, it’s about time we started thinking twice about what we put on our dining table.

As an attempt to promote and encourage a more sustainable seafood consumption habit across the city, WWF-Hong Kong has announced its annual Sustainable Seafood Week, held from 27 June to 5 July this year, partnering with over 100 restaurants scattered all over Hong Kong, just to show that a sustainable seafood menu can – and should – be had anywhere in Hong Kong, by people from all walks of life. From all 32 Tsui Wah Restaurant’s outlets to 44 Maxim’s MX outlets, Congress Plus at HKCEC to Steakhouse at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Plat du Jour to The Continental, you’re literally spoilt for choice when it comes to a seafood feast matching various budget concerns.

Go on, check out WWF-Hong Kong’s list of partnering restaurants and do your bit as a responsible global citizen!  

Thursday, 25 June 2015

MTR’s Green Fingers

Credit: MTR Corporation Limited

As you pass by the resident properties atop MTR stations, how often do you stop to appreciate the well-groomed greenery and flowers? Maybe you should next time, after reading about the story behind the beautiful landscaping work.

Meet Chan Yin-chun, the eight-year Gardening Supervisor at Caribbean Coast for MTR, who has been planting thousands of flowering shrubs, trees and plants in an effort to transform the initially bland area into a green paradise. Her works get compliments every day, according to Chan, and apparently a man who used to live at South Horizons moved his family to Caribbean Coast because of the exquisite landscaping. What Chan doesn’t say is that she is also the recipient of the 2014 Grand Award for Individuals, the highest honour granted to staff at MTR, partly because she was the developer of a self-fertilisation method that utilises recycled flowers and plants to replace chemical fertilisers, therefore helping to create a more sustainable environment for Hong Kong.

Chan gets asked about tips on growing houseplants quite often, in case you’ve got a question or two about your pot of something at home too. 

Now You Can Undo-Send Your Gmail

Credit: Fast Company

Fed up with the cringe-worthy moments of mis-sending your emails, exposing unspeakable content to undesirable recipients? Now you get to undo your sent Gmail with a few clicks in the ‘General’ tab.

But your email can only be unsent provided that you haven’t navigated away from the page, meaning your boss is still going to receive that hateful email if you’ve already left the page, with the email already on its way. Also, the effect can only be done within five to 30 seconds of clicking the ‘send’ button.

How do you like this new tool which Google has been testing since 2009? 

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Lobster Bites with a Twist

Credit: Lobster Bobo by Eddy

If you’re a fan of lobster and if you confess to be an adventurous foodie, then your luck is in, because a restaurant specialised in lobster dishes has just opened.

Nope, it won’t be your favourite lobster bisque or risotto that Lobster Bobo will be serving, what it does have on its menu is a variety of local Hong Kong street snack such as ‘woon jai chi’ ('poor man's shark fin soup), rice rolls, rice in soup, as well as Southeast Asian cuisine the likes of laksa, topped with succulent lobster meat. If you like, you may also order a pot of whole lobster udon, served with a five-hour soup, cherry tomato confit, and semi-boiled egg.

The lobster, by the way, is flown in fresh daily from Canada, its shell used to make a flavoursome soup base and its meat used for the restaurant’s dishes.

Location: Shop A, Haleson Building, 1 Jubilee Street, Central
Phone: +852 3971 0933
Opening Hours: 11am to 9pm daily, closes on Sunday and public holidays 

Recipe: Popsicles for Brekkie!

Credit: Allrecipes

My mum would have never allowed this ("Cold food on the stomach first thing in the morning will give you weak kidney and grey hair!") but apparently fruit and yoghurt breakfast popsicles are a thing! Don't you just want to make these as the obnoxiously hot and humid Hong Kong summer is returning with a vengeance?

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Pee, Poo, Fertilise

Credit: Peepoo

Did you know that over 2.6 billion people in the world lack access to basic sanitation, and up to 40% of the world’s population don’t have access to even the simplest latrine?

To tackle the issue, Peepoo, a personal, single-use, self-sanitising and fully biodegradable toilet was invented to prevent faeces from contaminating the immediate area and the surrounding ecosystem, while solving the problem of scarce water supply by saving the need to flush – water is only needed for washing hands afterwards.

Weighing just 10 grams, Peepoo is really a slim biodegradable bag with an inner layer that unfolds to form a wide funnel. It’s designed to be easy to store, handle, and use in complete privacy. With the ability to remain odour-free for at least 24 hours, Peepoo can be stored in the immediate environment without endangering it. What’s more, it also transforms the faecal matter into high-value fertiliser to benefit the local organic farming industry.

Don’t you just love innovative, green and community-driven inventions like this? 

Grow Your Own Algae and Eat It

Credit: Fast Company

Read on if you’re the adventurous type that is curious about what the future brings in terms of food. While meatless meat is beginning to sound a good idea, we’re not quite sure what a green sludge of matter sounds to you.

Our world faces uneven food distribution, and more sustainable food production methods are constantly called for. In sight of this, architectural designer Jacob Douenias has created a conceptual line of photosynthetic furniture, which includes custom glass bioreactors that use waste heat, light and carbon dioxide from a home to feed the spirulina inside what resembles a fish tank. The resultant food is a green sludge of matter that is, according to the designer, “super nutritious”. And he’s right, because apparently the blue-green algae is used as a supplement at health food stores.

So what you need to do is pretty much live life as usual, and let the bioreactors collect your waste energy to provide food. If you come to think about it, Popeye also survives on algae-like matter too, so why not? 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Eat Cruelty Free, with Beyond Meat

Credit: ecozine, Beyond Meat

Despite the drastic increase in vegan and vegetarian dining options, Hong Kongers are constantly looking for options that enable them to eat cruelty-free, without compromising on food quality. So good news to those of you, as Beyond Meat, the top brand of plant-based food that has attracted investment from Bill Gates and the likes, is available in Hong Kong.

Free of antibiotics, hormones, cholesterol and gluten, Beyond Meat’s products are rich in high-quality protein and are cooked and pre-seasoned, meaning all you need to do is to add them to your recipes. From Italian Meatballs (HKD64) to Beefy Beef Crumbles (HKD59) and Beyond Chicken Strips (HKD59), Beyond Meat makes sure its products can fool even the most fastidious foodie by recruiting food and chemical experts to realign the molecules of plant proteins, so that they would have the same texture as meat.

And the best thing of all? These cruelty-free products are available at Green Common, Green Monday’s organic, healthy living store in Wanchai!

Green Common
Location: 222 Queen’s Road, East, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2263 3153
Email: info@greencommon.com
Opening Hours: 9:30am to 8:30pm Monday to Saturday, 10:00am to 8:30pm Sunday