In 1972, The United Nations designated 5th June as World Environment Day (WED) to raise global awareness on taking positive action in protecting the environment. Now 45 years on, preserving the environment for future generations has never been more important. 
In Hong Kong, non-profit environmental association Green Council, has proudly celebrated World Environment Day as a local event since 2013. Its aim is to focus the city's attention on the globally significant day, with the long-term goal of transforming Hong Kong into a greener community. The Council is run by a group of dedicated individuals from different industries and walks of life, but all who share the same vision of helping build Hong Kong into a world-class green city. 

"Our work involves varying degrees and types of interactions with industries, governments, retailers, procurers, academics, international partners, and the general public," says Linda Ho, Green Council's Chief Executive Officer in a public message displayed prominently on the company's website. "Our goal is to bring about informed, appropriate and positive changes in attitudes, decisions, actions and behaviours." 

This year Green Council will host an array of activities to encourage corporations and the general public to make Hong Kong greener. As an environmental association, Green Council's efforts are a great example to other businesses. 

The theme for this year's World Environment Day is 'Beat Plastic Pollution'. Plastic straws are considered to be one of the top ten contributors to marine debris and last year, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK) conducted a survey to understand the level of plastic straw consumption in the city. The survey result showed that of the 1,000 respondents, aged 15-59, on average each used around seven plastic straws a week. Alarmingly they calculated that if the same applied to the rest of the Hong Kong population within the same age group, around of 1.7 billion plastic straws would be used per year. 

Restaurant group Maximal Concepts is one organisation tackling plastic. The company believes that one small change can make a great impact, and switching to alternative straws has been one of these changes. All their venues are now 100% free of them, and they do their best to automatically serve paper versions with any drinks. 

"As an industry leader we have a responsibility to initiate and encourage change," says Malcolm Wood, Maximal's Global MD and Culinary Director. "If the providers of food and drink don't set an example for customers and at the very least provide them with a more eco-friendly option, then how do we expect them to follow suit? Switching to alternative straws was one of the simplest and fastest changes we could implement to an F&B group of our size," he continued. 

Wood has also successfully introduced eco-friendly takeaway containers, and is continually seeking out sustainable packaging options. At whisky bar Stockton, the group hosts 'Influencer Series' to highlight the efforts of other restaurants, businesses and people who are making positive change. 

Other restaurants joining the movement are Feather & Bone, who use straws made from sustainable eucalyptus pulp and sell bottled water in glass bottles, Linguini Fini who use no plastic straws or plastic takeaway boxes, and Stone Nullah Tavern and Posto Pubblico who use stainless steel straws and glass water bottles. Linguini Fini also uses an in-house composter, with compost going to Homegrown Foods' organic farms.

Hong Kong's new landmark hotel, The Murray, has been reincarnated from its original office building status with sustainability in mind. Designed with deeply recessed square windows, its ground-breaking energy efficiency concept is still applauded decades after it was built. In the new hotel these windows have been enlarged even further, and ensure no direct rays penetrate the building to save on energy. 

"In each guestroom and in our restaurants we also use glass water bottles to avoid the extensive use of plastic," says the hotel's Brand Director Anton Kilayko. "In our Murray Lane Bar, we use biodegradable starch straws that do not contain any plastic or petroleum." 

Large scale financial institutions are also looking to make a change from within. In line with this year's theme, HSBC is working to promote the message of reducing single-use plastic products. In Hong Kong the company has already removed plastic water bottles from catering events, and will remove them from all vending machines and canteens. Two private screenings events of the documentary "A Plastic Ocean" were held by the bank in May to continue to raise awareness. 

World Environment Day will take place around the world on 5th June 2018. Hong Kong Green Day organised by Green Council will take place on the same day with an afternoon opening ceremony in Tsing Yi from 4-6pm. 

For more information visit http://worldenvironmentday.global/ or http://www.greencouncil.org/en/index.php or contact your Lifestyle Manager.