(Post: 01/06/2016,South China Morning Post)
Eco-warrior turns her Tai Po home into storage space to save perfectly good unwanted items from landfill.
“I once saw a brand new toilet, still wrapped in plastic, chucked at a refuse site. So I asked the cleaning ladies to keep it there for a couple of days while I found it a new owner,” she recalls.
Lam has used her own Tai Po home as temporary storage space to save perfectly functional goods or food from a wasteful end in the landfill. “I get a little overzealous sometimes and my husband tells me off for hoarding,” she laughs.
With a strong desire to connect unwanted items with new owners, Lam first began maintaining a small email network of people who might know those who might know someone who might want such things.
Step by step, her community grew.
When she came across the online concept of “green mapping”, she ended up kick-starting her own local version.
The idea is to map out “green spots” in your community—such as recyclers, bag and shoe repairers, veggie restaurants—to help create a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Her brainchild, about to be officially relaunched as wherevergreen.hk later this month, aims to create a virtual eco-village, where environmentally conscious “villagers” across Hong Kong may connect and share the tidbits of such a lifestyle via the web platform.
The project has not been easy. “I am technologically clueless,” Lam admits.
But she does what simple things she can, such as setting up a “Hong Kong regional green-living mapper team” Facebook group, which gathers contributors who help build content for the local green map.
And she counts her blessings when it comes to getting help for the work that requires technical know-how, from design to IT. “I’ve been so lucky to have met the right people with the right skills.”
But, she adds, with a twinkle in her eye, “The website doesn’t have English content translated yet.”
It’s her willingness to continue taking steps forward, no matter how small, that makes a difference.
Despite a lack of technological expertise, she took part in a hackathon in 2014, contributing what she could—her ideas and experience—to those who possessed the online skills.
Her team ended up winning a prize with their proposal for venue.hk, a platform for those with spare—wasted—space, be it a garden or a room for piano lessons or conferences, to share with those needing a venue.
Lam, who has also published a bookaimed at “bringing up children in a non-toxic home”, has been nominated by the Conservancy Association for a Cultural Preservation award in the SCMP’s Spirit of Hong Kong Awards.
She is a firm believer in the need for humans to live more eco-consciously, likening it to her “religion”. But Lam is quick to point out she is wary of being preachy with it. “The core idea is respect,” she says, “be it life, our planet or each other.
“And if you’re in people’s faces with your belief, you’re just pushing them away.”
It used to be frustrating for her: for all the efforts some put into making the world a better place, others seem to care little.
“Then I learned ‘Zen’,” says Lam, who practises meditation. “I realised it can be easy to lose the ‘spirit’ of it. If you get angry or frustrated, that’s no longer the healthy living you were seeking.”
She has learned to let go. “You do your own part, that’s all you can do.”