Food: we seem to enjoy throwing it away almost as much as we love to eat it. Food waste makes up more than a third of our daily household rubbish, resulting in more than 3,000 tonnes of it ending up in our city’s already overflowing landfills. For a group of Year 11 Sha Tin College (STC) students, enough was enough.
Back in August, they decided to embark on a project to reduce food waste in their school, as part of Nature Works Hong Kong, an education programme sponsored by the environmental charity The Nature Conservancy.
And while they hoped the project would inspire change on campus, they didn’t expect to be crowned winners of the programme, too.
Speaking to Young Post after their win, two of the team’s members, Solomon Lam and Clarence Lee, both 15, explained why they wanted to tackle food waste above other environmental issues.
“The cafeteria is one of the most neglected places in our school, and a leading source of food waste,” said Solomon, who is also the founding member of STC’s environmental council. “So it only seemed natural to address the issue of food waste.”
Clarence explained that their initiative was carried out in three stages
“Firstly, we decided to do composting. It’s essentially turning food waste into fertilisers which can be used by the gardening club, and is an example of food waste being put to good use.”
The second step was to raise students’ awareness.
“Some students don’t really understand why food waste is such a big problem that we need to solve,” said Clarence.
He said the team tried to help students become better informed by speaking to them in assemblies, and putting up banners and posters.
He added that the team also planned to negotiate with their school’s catering company, Chartwells, to introduce new portion sizes so that students don’t struggle to finish their meals.
Both Solomon and Clarence agreed that the response from their school was overwhelming. While they initially aimed to reduce food waste by 25 per cent, by October 2018 food waste levels were down to less than 60 per cent of what they had been in August. The boys believe this is largely down to engaging with their peers.
“I personally enjoyed talking to the whole school, engaging with students in class visits and school assemblies. I think the support we got ... really inspired us to continue,” Solomon said.
The students hope their success will inspire others to take steps, big or little, towards a more sustainable future.
“Take our team as an example, we started with five people sitting in a circle on the floor writing ‘25 per cent’ on a piece of paper,” Solomon said, “and now we’re here, actually making a difference.”