Young Boy Scout and environmentalist Vikram Krishna is determined to solve Hong Kong’s plastic problem, one bottle at a time.
The 14-year-old Hong Kong International School student set up collection points for plastic bottles as part of his “Eagle Project” as a member of Boy Scouts of America, Troop One, Hong Kong. He collected bottles from his school, and from blocks of flats and neighbourhoods around the city.
Vikram managed to amass an incredible 42 kilogrammes of plastic bottles. He had them converted into a polyester material, which he then used to make reusable bags. “My inspiration for this project came from seeing how severe the plastic problem is in Hong Kong,” Vikram, who was born in India, said. “When I found out that the landfills in Hong Kong were almost full, mainly due to plastic consumption, I was utterly speechless.”
He recently moved to Hong Kong from Japan, where he says citizens care a lot more about the environment and have a far more extensive recycling programme. “Recycling is massive in Japan,” Vikram explained. “Everybody recycles without even thinking twice. In fact, at my school, there was a separate box just for bottle caps. Hong Kong is really lagging when it comes to recycling.”
Vikram said he was particularly alarmed during his first beach clean-up with the Hong Kong Boy Scouts. “There were so many pieces of plastic and microplastic scattered all over the beach,” he said.
“I decided that I had to do something to fight the issue. So my project was my way of raising awareness and reducing the problem on a small scale. Hopefully, that scale will increase in the future.”
After receiving the bottles, Vikram had them recycled locally and turned into plastic pellets. He then shipped the pellets to the mainland where they were made into polyester. “With this polyester, I designed a reusable bag for shopping and groceries. I then hired an elderly Hong Kong local to sew 200 of these bags using my design.”
With more projects like these, Vikram believes Hong Kong can both reduce its plastic problem and help provide work for retired residents.
Vikram hopes to continue his work both with the Scouts and in his school next year, and plans to work with younger students to raise awareness of this issue. His projects will also be featured during the school’s “zero plastic day”, a full day dedicated to fighting the problem of plastic waste.
“I’ve really learned a lot from this project,” Vikram said. “I found it really cool how just four or five plastic bottles can be recycled to make one of these bags, and I plan to continue pushing this initiative – not only recycling, but more importantly, the minimisation or even elimination of single-use plastic, which has become a menace to the environment.”
Vikram is also committed to supporting other causes, such as making education accessible to all, and eliminating world hunger. Last year, he and his classmates launched Scouting For Food, a food drive with the Boy Scouts for local food bank Feeding Hong Kong. And he doesn’t intend to stop there.
“I have been fortunate and privileged compared to millions of children in the world who are deprived of basic education and food,” he said.
“I am a firm believer that all humans should have equal opportunities and I want to do my bit to create opportunities for others who are less privileged.”