Do the earth and your wallet a favour, and ditch single-use plastic forever!
Being environmentally conscious doesn’t always come naturally in Hong Kong (bananas laid out on a plastic tray, wrapped up in cling film, anyone?), but that shouldn’t stop you from making planet-friendly choices where you can. One everyday, essential item that definitely needs to get a green makeover is the lunchbox (and all the snack and drink containers that come with it). Luckily, there is now a range of non-plastic options – from steel to silicon – widely available across the city, containing no nasties for your family and the environment.
This option makes for the most sustainable containers, by far. Once you have bought your stainless steel lunchbox, bottle and straws, you can be pretty sure that they will last a lifetime. The highly-popular PlanetBox Rover (pictured) has plenty of compartments that the kids will love and also comes with optional rubber magnets to dress up the lunchbox with adorable cars, mermaids and emoticon designs. Other top-selling boxes, available in different shapes and sizes for adults and kids alike, include the stacking Three-in-One and the Bento Splash Box.
As far as bottles go, it’s perhaps best to pick these up from a physical store to test how easy it is for your little one to flip it open and shut it tight (there’s nothing more annoying than having the bottle leak all over the school books!). There is a wide variety to choose from, ranging from the ever-faithful Skip Hop, Cheeki and Stephen Joseph, available across multiple children’s stores and sites through the city. It’s worthwhile looking for food grade stainless steel, usually marked with an embossed 304 inside the bottle. One product that has consistently good reviews is Klean Kanteen, which has interchangeable covers so your child can go from sipper to spout with the same bottle.
Bamboo eco-ware items often have cute designs and shapes, and make for unique birthday gifts for children. Be warned though – it is not toddler-tantrum-proof! Bamboo is also used to make reusable cutlery and most zero-waste stores carry a variety of these sets, along with pretty printed coffee cups. We particularly like this Bento lunchbox (pictured) for kids from social enterprise, Bamboa. Its biodegradable bamboo fibre products are sourced from rural communities across Asia.
Glass lunchboxes are ideal for working people looking to reheat leftovers in the office because they are microwave-safe. You can also use glass bottles and coffee cups which usually come with handy silicon sleeves to make them easy to hold. They are not a great idea for anyone with butter fingers though! Glass boxes are available at all supermarkets in Hong Kong, while the bottles and coffee cups are available at conscious living stores and selected coffee shops.
Silicon is a super material with the convenience of plastic, the durability of steel (well, almost!) and all the benefits of being non-toxic for human consumption. Its pliable nature makes it the perfect material for collapsible boxes, cups and bottles (convenient for stashing in your handbag to bring back restaurant leftovers!). Silicon is microwave and dishwasher friendly, so it can even be used for baking and sous vide cooking. Silicon wraps are also making their way into kitchens as a reusable alternative to cling film, and they help make leakproof containers out of regular snack bowls and boxes.
Read more: How To Introduce Your Kids To Sustainability
This humble and often-overlooked cotton fabric is making a comeback with eco-warriors. While cloth cannot be used for items that could ooze and spill, you can use it for a sandwich, snacks and even bento bags.
Where to buy
Most items mentioned above are available at green living stores and sites around the city. Plastic-free HK, Live Zero and Edgar, to name just a few, stock a variety of sustainable food storage options at comparable costs to shipping directly from the manufacturer. You could save on costs by combining purchases with friends or asking visitors to carry them to Hong Kong for you. After all, going green also involves reducing shipping where you can!
Eco-ware stores in Hong Kong:
Edgar, Causeway Bay, Lee Garden, 1/F, 17 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Edgar, Wan Chai Star Street Precinct, 5 Moon Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, 3484 2088
Live Zero Bulk Foods/Beauty, 20/24 High Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, 9433 3394
Live Zero Bulk Foods, 5 Tak Lung Back Street, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, 2567 6696
Seed, 29 Yee Kuk Street, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, 5703 2223, www.facebook.com/weareseedhongkong