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Celebrating a plastic-free New Year

by Vicky Lee

The festive season is well and truly here, while all retail businesses are pushing the sales to meet the annual target, many corporates are organising gatherings to celebrate and take this opportunity to thank their employees for the efforts they have made throughout the year.

At the turn of the year, how many gatherings are you attending?  How much plastic waste are we producing every gathering?  If every individual in Hong Kong uses one disposable plastic cup during this festival season, we are producing extra 77 tonnes on top of the 2,000 tonnes of plastic we currently discard every day.

The most effective solution is to reduce and not use disposable cups in your gatherings at all.  Here are some realistic methods that help you do this.


Simple tableware in house

An event I attended at Fuji-Xerox certainly gains my thumbs up for the eco-friendly coffee break they provided.

A nice variety of snack choices were provided where plates and forks were necessary for the bite.   Participants could make their own coffee using ‘real’ mugs, have soft drinks in cans or sparking water in glass bottles – with no straws in sight.

It is a genuine plastic-free coffee break, and I can really see the promise Fuji Xerox made – “unity of words and deeds” (Genko-Itchi).  It does not just reveal in their business processes but also down to small operations, including a 20-minute coffee break.

This is certainly a very good example of plastic-free gathering.  Simply get some reusable tableware and select the food and beverages wisely for your gatherings, going plastic-free is not as difficult as you imagine.


Using service of responsible eateries

If there isn’t any space for putting tableware in your office, why not finding a responsible eatery who makes efforts in plastic-free initiatives.

A day-long series of lectures, presentations and workshops from Savannah College of Arts & Design (SCAD) about sustainability in fashion education was served with simple but freshly made pastries.  The breakfast became more purposeful and meaningful with plastic-free coffee and tea served to the guests and students

Instead of using disposables, Go Cups were provided by Café Sausalito, where participants could use them by putting in HKD$50 deposit.   Even though the operation was a little bit slow, participants feel welcoming for such an eco-friendly initiative and were very patient to line up for their Go Cups.

“It is definitely a sense of accomplishment seeing
how little trash there was after serving 100+ people”,
Mike from Café Sausalito remarked.

It is very easy to find a Go Cup eatery near you, simply open the Go Cup map.  Then everyone can enjoy your warm Christmas beverage without putting any burden to the landfill or jeopardising the sea creatures.


Renting reusable tableware

What if the gathering serves more than just nibbles and coffee? A tableware rental service, such as WeUse, is what you are looking for.

WeUse provides various kinds of tableware, ranging from wine glasses to coffee cups, saucers to large plates, chopsticks to knives and forks, etc.   They deliver tableware to the venue prior your gathering and collect and wash the used ones afterwards – meaning no solid waste will be produced afterwards.

The end of 2017 is a good time to review the events we organised at work, at home and in our communities, and think about how much plastic waste have we produced?   While it may be difficult to provide reusable mugs and tableware for all the events we organise, partnering different like-minded organisations can make a real difference.



If you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution – make plastic-free events your practical and cost-efficient number one commitment!  Whether you are a caterer, hospitality or event organiser, measure your impact across the operation, identify the best practice and look for long term solutions for not only a single event but all.


If you would like a chat on plastic free solutions and some other sustainability issues, get in touch with The Purpose Business.

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