Living in HK means that we can hardly escape the pressure of a multi-million advertising industry that is hell-bent on making people feel inadequate unless they buy the latest mobile phone or designer bag.
Unless we start to take pride in our alternative 'lifestyle choices', to borrow a marketeers' cliche, and use word of mouth and our influence in the media to spread it, we will never pose a challenge to the multinationals of planet destruction.
So i propose a manifesto for eco-conscious HK chicks and call for more entries to this list.
1. You love your old mobile phone, as it does exactly what a phone is supposed to do. Its no nonsense design can easily be described as "vintage", the simplicity of its menu mean that time can be spent engaging in more pleasant activities than studying functions and applications, its sturdiness means you don't need to worry about accidentally dropping or scratching it. When it finally breaks down, you can easily fix it or replace with a similar model, which you can buy second-hand for HK$200 (My Nokia is 5 years old and i have only changed the battery once)
2. You buy your clothes in second-hand and charity shops, alter them or re-style them yourself, you organize swap parties where friends and acquaintances can exchange loved items without ever opening your purse. Your style is unique and fashion designers will copy it, because they always take inspiration from what stands out in the street, but then put a silly price tag on it.
3. You travel by train and bicycle to reach places that other people will read about in travel magazines some time after you visited them. As you save money by spending less on consumer products, you need to work less, hence your holidays will be longer. You leave the "long-weekend" getaway places to mass tourists who are time-strapped and herded like cows into over-crowded resorts.
4. You make things. As you have more time for yourself, you learn how to make stuff that other people can only buy in expensive designer shops. You can make unique pottery, jewellery, photo-albums, knit jumpers and scarves, build your own furniture, make bags with discarded cloth and beads, there is virtually no limit to what you can make by hand.
5. You are a vegetarian. There is really no need to eat meat: the healthiest populations have always eaten little or no meat. You love animals and cannot bear the idea of eating parts of an animal that has been killed to feed you. You cook your lunch and dinner, put it in a re-usable container and carry it with you. In HK healthy food is expensive, but very affordable if you cook it yourself. Also, a quinoa and vegetables stew cannot be bought from a take-away, and the same applies to the most nutritious grains and pulses.
6. You never buy bottled water. It's terribly polluting for the environment, and also bad for your health: plastic releases carcinogenic particles into the water, especially when bottles are stored in high temperatures, as they are in HK. Instead, you carry a flask and refill it with tap water which is no worse than water you buy in bottles. At home you drink filtered or boiled tap water.
7. You carry your own bag when you go shopping. You only choose groceries without excessive packaging, as this saves space in your bag and creates less waste at home. You can use Marseilles soap to wash your laundry as it comes in a soap bar, instead of a plastic container. To clean kitchen and bathroom use a vinegar and water solution. Most cleaning products are unnecessary and very harmful for the environment.
8. You never buy cosmetics and body & hair care products. You don't need to because you can find everything you need to be beautiful...in your kitchen!
Natural beauty tips can be found on the Internet, and after trying natural ingredients, you will never go back to chemicals-laden creams and hair products. Besides, if you exercise daily, get plenty of sleep, live stress-free and eat healthy, your skin will never need a boost.
9. You often go the library. There you can read and borrow books, instead of buying them, and bring home CDs that you can listen to and even copy.
10. Your apartment feels much bigger than it is because you never clutter it with stuff you bought on impulse and don't really need. The less you own, the lighter you feel. Freedom can never be achieved by owning more. Material things are like a ball and chain that hinder your personal development and inner growth.
11. Your electricity bill is usually below HK$100 a month, you choose to live without a TV, because you'd rather socialize with friends than passively watch the box, you don't need air-conditioning in your flat because you keep your windows open and use a ceiling fan instead. As you avoid meat, your body temperature will naturally be lower. If you live alone, you don't need a washing machine either, as you can soak your clothes and bed linen in the washtub overnight, and rinse them in the morning.
You only need a small, energy-efficient fridge because in HK you are never too far from a grocery store or market.
12. You work to live, rather than live to work as many do in HK.
When you free yourself from the shackles of consumerism, you need to work fewer hours to support yourself. In the developed world we are facing over-capacity, over-production and over-consumption. If we all consumed less, then this unsustainable system would fold like a house of cards, and some sanity would be restored: the real quality of life would improve and the environment would benefit. People who live in developed countries are not happier than those who don't. That's a fact. And we should all ponder the irony of it.
13. You have no car. Nobody really needs one in HK. You can go anywhere you want by public transport, you also take any opportunity to walk, climb stairs and cycle, which keeps you fitter than going to the gym.
14. You are not defined by what you buy, but by what you treasure. Your rubbish bin fills up really slowly, as you recycle most of your waste. The less you buy, the more uses you will find for what you previously thought of as 'just waste'.