Category Archives: Influencers

Martin Cal and family holding the Green Race flag

Running the Green Race

Interview with Martin Cai

Martin Cai is a Race Director at The Green Race (TGR), an organisation working towards the creation of sustainable trail running events in Hong Kong. They provide finishers with sustainable options for medals, vouchers from sponsors and additional race pack items.

Vision and collaboration with other like-minded organisations is enabling them to build a loyal community of Green Race runners across Hong Kong. They are also expanding to other countries in Asia, including Japan and Singapore.

Native to Canada, Martin has been running since he was a teenager, but as with many other expats, he switched to trail running as soon as he moved to Hong Kong nearly seven years ago. Working in corporate finance with an education in Resource Management from The University of British Columbia, his passion has always been for the great outdoors. Starting up the Green Race was an opportunity to get back out to the green side of things once again.

We caught Martin on a ferry ride to Mui Wo, with the entire team and runners heading for a training run on a Sunday morning.

Q. So how did you start TGR? And why Green?

A. The more I was running, the more I was feeling guilty about the waste generated at running events. At the same time I started looking for a personal trainer and met Vlad Ixel and Etienne Rodriguez just over two years ago. Through a few attempts and learns, The Green Race was born and the rest has quickly become history!

Q. How challenging was it to convince people to join your races? A green agenda may not have been at the forefront of runners minds as much as it is today.

A. We are focusing on creating a greater benefit than all those medals and goodies’ bags. People think you need to give up so much for a green lifestyle. It’s not true. You can have almost everything and be closer to wasteless than you may think. We are working to create more value for the runners without necessarily telling them what they should or should not do to ‘save the earth’. There is a very thin line between urging people to go green and schooling them.

Q. Was it easy to find the sustainable solutions in Hong Kong? Have the running costs been an issue?

A. There is nothing that can’t be done in Hong Kong with a bit of will – where there is a market there is a way. Once we started exploring the opportunities, we felt connected to the entire community. From the outset it has been financially challenging as providing better quality can mean higher costs, be it a compostable bag or high quality T-shirt that lasts longer or is made from natural fibres. In just over two years, we have managed to become profitable and help change perceptions around how these sorts of events can be just as fun without the trail of waste. It’s great to see Hong Kong in action, but as they say, keep your friends close, and your direct competition even closer! Hong Kong business thrives with direct competition ‘setting up shop’ right up alongside you. We’re all learning from each other – and making trail running better for everyone, including Mother Nature.

Q. What are your future plans? Do you see your community growing?

A. Heading into 2018, we find ourselves within our third financial year already! I can think of no other place on the face of the Earth where time moves as quickly as it does in Hong Kong, and we still have a very long list of work items. This is a very big year for us – we feel we have invested our time, passion, and capital into creating brand and loyal following. Our definite focus is on quality. We now have a great responsibility to continue innovating and surprising with new green focused ideas that can help make life better for all of us in Hong Kong, one sustainably sourced bamboo fork at a time #noplasticforks!

We are especially grateful to Loop Unite for having partnered with Green Race to jointly create what we hope will be some of the cleanest and greenest top end trail running events in Hong Kong.

Upcoming Green Race events can be found here

Volunteer with Green Race here

 

One Year into the Zero Waste Challenge

An Interview with Hannah Chung

Hannah Chung is a Business Development Executive at Green Monday, a consultant at Foodie Group, but recently found fame through her Instagram posts documenting “The Zero waste challenge”.

For the last year, Hannah has been on a zero waste challenge and personal quest to change people’s mindset on the current problems with waste, by building a culture of conscious consumerism. Her posts illustrate the ups and downs of reducing her waste in a highly consumerist Hong Kong.

Q. How did you come up with the idea of the zero waste challenge? How do you evaluate your challenge so far?

A. Hong Kong’s waste problem far surpasses the infrastructures put in place to manage it. Compared to my home city of London, there are no clear recycling rules or transparency as to where the recyclables end up, and I haven’t seen government support to encourage individuals and businesses to separate waste effectively. I started the challenge because I personally wanted to see a change in the city I was living in. So far, I’ve met some wonderfully inspiring people along the way, who share my same vision and I have been able to drastically reduce the waste I produce from making a few simple changes to my lifestyle.

Q. How did this challenge impact your other areas of life? And if this is the case, how did it expand your expertise and skills as a professional?

A. The impact from the challenge so far has been positive. From this experience, I’ve been able to spread the word on being a conscious consumer through regular columns on afoodieworld.com and thecloseteur.com, along with having the opportunity to create events such as The Food’s Future Summit, a one-day event focusing on agriculture, sustainability and waste. I’ve also had the pleasure of speaking at schools and zero waste focused events all of which have helped spread the word. With the aim originally of understanding whether zero waste can actually be possible in Hong Kong, I have have learned more about waste management and the devastating effects of waste ending up in landfills and the ocean, which in turn has made me even more passionate to inform more people on how we need make changes.

Q. Many HK zero wasters criticise the Government for the lack of initiatives and action. If you were a Gov official, what would be your strategy in reducing HK waste? And what would be the first 5 steps?

A. There are many obvious things to start with: Separate bins for each residential building with enforcements on separation of waste is one of them. There are countries we can be influenced by. My family in London has a separate bin for food waste, paper, glass, metal and plastic recycling. In Japan, your recycling will not be collected if items have been put in the wrong bin. A ban on polystyrene, the worst offender in terms of ocean pollution, or a ban on plastic cutlery and plates are ideas we can take from California and France. Subsidies for recycling plants will make recycling a viable business to run and encourage more people to collect recyclables. I’d also like to see higher charges on plastic bags being used subsidies for companies providing alternatives such as cloth bags.

Q. What are your plans for the future? How do you see yourself in a couple of years?

A. I see myself pushing the message further, spreading the word and creating more partnerships in order to cultivate a movement into empowering people to make their own changes. For the day to day, I am constantly searching for alternatives that are realistic, affordable and realistic. Hopefully in two year’s time, we will have more of those alternatives.

 

Follow Hannah’s journey here.

Aquaponics Farm

An Interview with Ray Lok

Agro entrepreneurs Ray Lok and business partner Leon Yao, are both well-established industrialists and business professionals in their own right. Their successful Evergreens Republic project has been hailed a success thanks their thorough and clear agronomic vision with well-established market channels.

The farm, spanning over half an acre in the countryside of Hong Kong, is the first Aquaponic farm in Hong Kong and the largest in South East Asia.

Q: What exactly is aquaphonic farming?

A: Aquaponics is a recirculating system that combines hydroponics – growing plants in water without soil – and aquaculture – fish farming) to create an efficient closed loop system. We use fish poo/excrement and nutrient rich waste-water from the fish tanks to feed the plants.

The micro bacteria converts the waste nutrients into fertiliser to feed the plants; the plants then purify the water which is pumped back into the tanks.

Q: How do you manage to ensure that everything runs smoothly?

A: From the outset we realised the importance of maintenance and the responsibility that comes with running a successful, profitable aquaponic farm of this scale. We commissioned an expert Farming Operations Manager to work with our niche team of farm hands, which ensures our daily schedules of harvesting, seeding, feeding, plant care, fish care and water quality monitoring is guaranteed to keep our farm healthy.

Q: What is the aim of the project?

A: The project aims to be a big part of the rapidly developing growing organic food market in Hong Kong and provide fresh, naturally grown, pesticide free produce.

The farm holds the potential to boost the local market supply by almost 20%. The system will be driven by three tons of locally hatched Jade Perch and will feature gravel beds, deep water culture troughs and wicking beds.

Q: And your vision for the future?

A: Evergreens Republic Farm is a showcase of the best of WaterFarmers design and planning. At 70% productive land usage the Aquaponic farm is set to generate 100 tons of premium quality produce annually.

Discover more here.