Thursday, September 19, 2013

Environmental thoughts on the eve of the Mid-Autumn Festival

Scene at Victoria Park tonight, 
the eve of the Mid-Autumn Festival

Lantern Wonderland that Victoria Park's football fields
had been temporarily transformed into

The interior of the 10 meter high spherical installation is
a veritable visual wonderland made more amazing by
it mainly being made out of...recycled water bottles! :O

As I write this sentence of this blog post, it's not yet the Mid-Autumn Festival but, as can be witnessed in such locales as Victoria Park, many Hong Kongers are already in a festive mood -- and out en masse to enjoy festive treats such as the Lantern Wonderland, Tai Hang fire dragon 'dance' (parade, more like, actually), the fire dragon dance in Pok Fu Lam (and, especially this year, Aberdeen too) and various other public Mid-Autumn Festival lantern displays.

I don't want to rain on people's parades but I do hope that at least some, even if not all, of the people who checked out the very visually impressive Rising Moon installation in Victoria Park tonight will be inspired by it to be more environmentally aware and be more active with regards to conservation of resources and recycling plastics and other waste materials.

Made out of 7,000 water bottles, Rising Moon is an eye-catching work because of the play of multicolor lighting on its surface and the reflections on the water of the pool that surrounds it but also its sheer size.  The shocking as well as amazing fact though is that 7,000 plastic bottles are actually consumed every 15 minutes of a typical day in Hong Kong.

I'm old enough to remember a time when people -- especially adults -- didn't walk around with plastic bottles of water in their hand or backpack, almost as if it was a necessary accessory of urban living.  But now so many people move around the city equipped with a plastic bottle of water as if their hike through the urban jungle will have them passing as few places to get a drink, should they need it, as through a bona fide natural jungle.

And while I'm on the subject of waste: to people who still have some mooncakes left, please make sure they're all eaten or to give them to other people who will appreciate them rather than have them go to waste. A 2011 survey estimated that more than 2 million mooncakes get discarded rather than consumed -- and frankly, I consider it a crying shame because, among other things, I love mooncakes, so think it such a terrible, unnecessary waste of a delicious food item!


Diana said...

Wow, how pretty!

I went to see the Fire Dragon. It was so crowded that I could barely see it. It was really quite long and looked delicate, the carriers must have practiced their timing quite a bit.

But all that body heat on top on the regular heat, was too much for me after a long day. It had been late so we had stood there waiting for about 1 1/2 hours. I said goodbye to my friends as they continued on to see the lanterns.

So thanks to you I can now see the lanterns. :) I like the environmental theme. I drink a lot of water and am not happy that I am buying so many bottles of water. Until I find a better solution all I can do at this point is put them in recycling bins.

YTSL said...

Hi Diana --

Did you stand on the main street to watch the Fire Dragon? The trick is to wait for it -- or even better chase it -- in the side streets. Sometimes you end up fearing you're too close as it barrels towards you... ;b

Re the bottles of water: I tell myself it's better to buy fewer larger bottles than more smaller bottles of liquids. Hope I'm right!

Diana said...

YTSL--not sure where we were but we were stuck in one position. I was following friends who also had never been before. Next time I do something like this I will ask you if you have any advice, if that is okay.

Yes, I think you are right about the larger bottles. I have been doing that as much as I can too.

YTSL said...

Hi again Diana --

Next time, you can also do a search on my blog to find old entries like this one:-

Another tip with regards to the Tai Hang fire dragon: like Chinese New Year lions, it 'consumes' vegetables for luck, so you can walk about the side streets and look for bunches of vegetables tied up high at the front of buildings and wait around there for the fire dragon to make its way over... ;b

Diana said...

Thanks YTSL! If I am here next year, I will definitely do my research on your blog for the fire dragon.

ewaffle said...

The shocking as well as amazing fact though is that 7,000 plastic bottles are actually consumed every 15 minutes of a typical day in Hong Kong.

Buying bottled water in 99% of the advanced sector is expensive, wasteful and unnecessary. While there are some communities whose water supply, while safe is unpalatable there aren't many of them at least in the U.S.

Bottled water in the U.S. is at least 300 times more expensive than tap water and tap water is safe, available and almost always good tasting (for water, that is). And there is a one in four chance (higher by some estimates) that the bottle of water you buy is sourced from a tap and not treated in any way.

The idea of shipping something hundreds or even thousands of miles--Fiji Water, for example--that is already plentiful and cheap in the area to which is shipped should be a recipe for bankruptcy but sales continue to climb through the billions.

It is better to buy large containers of water than smaller ones, although it is only a matter of degree. For example the water in typical 16.9 oz. bottles in the U.S. is 2,000 times more expensive than tap water on the average.

I realize this is a bit of a rant...

YTSL said...

Hi once again Diana --

Feel free to search my blog re other Hong Kong festivals, etc. :)

Hi ewaffle --

I hear you about how ridiculous it is for Fiji Water to be shipped thousands of miles to be sold in parts of the world where tap water is safe to drink.

I have also to be truthful though and say that I hated the way that tap water tasted -- and sometimes smelled -- in the parts of the US where I lived. I think there just was too much chlorine in the water -- so much so that I stopped drinking milder tasting teas like Darjeeling when I was there... :S