Category Archives: Loop Universe

Chinese child wearing a red scarf to symbolise Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year – a perfect time to begin a zero waste lifestyle

The ancient traditions that accompany the Chinese New Year are well understood by Hongkongers. However, as with Christmas, those celebrating in true style create a great deal of waste. With our landfill almost at the point of overflow, we’ve come up with a few ideas on how you could minimise the impact we have on our fragile world.

Old furniture up-cycled to make new again

1          Cleaning and Decluttering

This custom is symbolic for ousting bad luck with the advantage that the Chinese New Year is a perfect time to begin your zero waste lifestyle.

Why? It offers an ideal opportunity to dispose of those things you don’t really need by donating or recycling, rather than sentencing them to be dumped in landfill. You could also up-cycle your old furniture and make it look brand new, or why not update that old sofa with a beautiful throw!

Chinese signs of the zodiac - Chinese New Year

2          Decorations

Red is a symbol of energy, happiness and luck and so a favourite colour of Chinese culture. If you need to buy any items, keep your display minimalistic and purchase decorations that can be reused again over the coming years.

You could purchase 12 small items representing each sign of the zodiac and bring the relevant one out each year. Or consider innovative ways of including each year’s sign into your decorations. If you own a dog, for example, you could highlight him or her as your 2018 mascot!

Digital wallpaper illustrating a dog and Happy Chinese New Year

Image courtesy of

Why not create a digital wallpaper from images of dogs for your laptop or iPad and use this as a static display when family and friends join you for celebrations? Or simply download a ready-made one here.

3          New Clothes

The tradition of buying a new outfit for Chinese New Year’s Eve can feel mandatory for those with family members who believe these symbolize the welcoming of new fortune and growth for the coming year, but the fact that most are only worn once means it’s a waste.

Many of us already have items in our wardrobes that are new or practically new which could be worn for the occasion. Or why not look through your belongings and see if you can create a new outfit by mixing and matching items you already own.

If you need to buy something, consider purchasing from brands that produce their goods ethically, and consider how these could also be worn in the future. Buying something fairly plain and dressing up with jewellery or a scarf, means your outfit can be worn again and again. Wearing a red scarf during the festival season is one way of entering the spirit of the Chinese New Year (see main image).

4          Red Envelopes

Red envelopes, known as ‘Lai See (Cantonese) or hongbao (Mandarin), are a way for people to share blessings and wish happiness and peace in the New Year. In China, the red envelope is called yasui qian, which translates as ‘suppressing ghosts’ money’.

However, recent Cathay Pacific research found that 320 million Lai See packets are given annually in Hong Kong, and as they usually carry the zodiac sign of the year, it means that under 2% are reused; this alone creates one of the largest negative impacts on our environment during the Chinese New Year.

As a result, the airline decided to recycle crew uniforms destined for landfill into beautifully designed, reusable Lai See to encourage a more sustainable way of giving. All profits from their sale will go to a local Hong Kong charity. Discover more here.

Or why not buy re-usable non-year specific red envelopes and packets? Alternatively – and very common among the younger generation – is the popular digital red envelope, an online money transfer with a colourfully designed message. PayMe by HSBC app is the local option – simply download for free, and start sending your Lai See. Zero waste sorted!

Selection of food for Chinese New Year

5          Food and Drink

The copious amount of food and drink on offer during Chinese New Year usually means that plenty gets thrown away. In relation to food and drink, zero waste is simply about careful planning of our meals so that nothing gets discarded. Planning in advance means you all share in providing delicious food at the celebratory festivities.

Mandarins - gifts for Chinese New Year

Give gifts of food you’ve prepared yourself and create your own Yu Sheng. Prepare homemade cookies and other goodies and present in a reusable glass mason jar – always useful to have around the home. Dress up loose fruit using flowers and other organic materials and present in a previously used basket or container.

And so the primary elements for moving towards a zero waste lifestyle in the upcoming Lunar New Year are:

  • Minimalism is key;
  • Declutter: donate, recycle or up-cycle items in your home;
  • Retention of decorations for use each year;
  • Up-date existing outfits or buy for longevity from ethical brands;
  • Utilise digital platforms to expand on the concept of a cyber Chinese New Year;
  • Use organic materials without packaging wherever possible;
  • Plan your meals so that nothing goes to waste.

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

Paola Cortese holding her zero waste jar - nothing to waste

Nothing to waste

Our founder, Paola Cortese was interviewed recently by Kate Springer for Liv. Hong Kong’s Wellness Magazine. “Nothing To Waste”

To give you a taster, the following are a few lines extracted from the three-page cover story article, Nothing To Waste, printed in February 2018.

Extract from Liv. Magazine Nothing to Waste - Paola Cortese LoopUnite! interview


“As Paola Cortese walks around my studio apartment, she nonchalantly quizzes me about my lifestyle habits. How often do you order takeout? Do you buy takeaway coffee, or bring a thermos? Do you sort your trash and drop it off for recycling? Do you compost? Do you buy plastic water bottles?…

We sit down at my dining room table and without any judgement she explains her mission at LoopUnite! To help average city dwellers reduce their personal waste by 80 percent in one month via organised coaching programmes.”

Hong Kong has a huge waste problem,” says Cortese. “A lot of people want to make changes but don’t know where to start.

Good News

The zero waste pioneer says it’s actually much easier than it sounds. “You need to do three things to really achieve an 80% reduction in waste: reuse, recycle, compost.”

The company’s coaching programmes help other Hongkongers take on the challenge with a clear strategy, manageable goals and an enthusiastic support network.

“Instead of everyone going through the research and trial-and-error, I designed these classes to make it easier to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle, says Cortese.

“With this approach, people can reduce waste by 80 percent in one month, something that took me a year to achieve on my own.”

To read the full article, please pick up your free magazine out now! Distribution points in Hong Kong are listed here.


You can read the January 2018 edition online here.

More wellness articles can be found on the Liv. website here

Follow @liv.magazine on Instagram here

Zero Waste family Mum and daughter walking along the seashore

Top Tips On Becoming A Zero Waste Family – Toddlers to Teens

Living sustainably as a zero waste family – especially for those with young children – can be problematic. The move from babies, where you in full control, to the toddler to teens stage is more of a challenge as children encounter the marketing madness designed to encourage peer pressure and ‘pester power’.

I well remember the peer pressure on my children to have the very latest trend in toys for Christmas and birthdays – invariable plastic nonsense, but none-the-less it was deemed important for participative play.

From conversations with Hong Kong mums, it would seem that the most successful zero waste families educate their child/ren as to why they may not have access the commercialised goodies their friends enjoy.  The following are some of the solutions they passed on.

Start Your Children Young

Lisa Odell, founder of Plastic Free Hong Kong, says the key is to “Start your children young!”

“Teach them sustainable habits from the very beginning, even if they don’t realise that’s what you’re doing. This will encourage sustainable practices as the norm as they mature, so it comes naturally.

“I have a three-year-old son with a baby girl on the way, and found the biggest waste makers are food packaging, nappies, clothing, toys and kitchenware.“

One of Lisa’s tips include only giving your child water as a drink, with occasional pure juice out of a glass bottle with metal cap as a treat. 

My top tip would be to introduce your healthy everyday foods as soon as possible. Mix textures and flavours when they are young enough to accept without question. One, it was cheaper; with four mini mouths to feed on a tight budget this was important. Buying pre-prepared packets is not only expensive, but when you consider how many they would need over their toddler lifespan, it would create a mountain of waste. And two, it made introducing one meal for all so easy – and I knew exactly what they were eating. Bubble and squeak – just a mash-up of leftovers – was always a popular dish!

Plate of bubble and squeak

Lisa agreed and also adds: “The issue of going on play dates can be hard as children are offered processed foods, which invariably come in plastic packaging.”

She feels this is just a great opportunity to talk to your child and other parents about why sustainability is so important and has alternatives as healthier snacks.

We pop our own popcorn, eat fruit sold loose, make banana bread, buy nuts sold in glass jars and bake our own bread.  We also buy croissants and bread sticks from a local bakery, which sells them to us in paper bags. These are just a few ideas.

Hong Kong mum of two, Jo Wilson, agrees that teaching your child from a young age about waste is crucial.

Initially, I audited my waste, keeping it for a week or two and got my children involved. I looked at the amount of packaging and worked out how to bring food home without adding rubbish to the pile. We now take our Tupperware to the village to buy cheese, ham and eggs, and use a cloth bag for loose veggies and fruit.”

There is no bin in Jo’s kitchen, just a box for cardboard, recyclable plastic, cans, glass bottles – all of which is clean and dry – and composts any organic waste. She serves small portions at dinner so less is thrown away if the children don’t like it. Wherever possible Jo advocates you should try to eat the same food as the children so you eat the leftovers, or can give them extra.

Making Zero Waste Learning Fun

Jo’s family makes regular trips to the beach and she takes great pleasure in turning what is essentially an environmental education, into fun.

I want them to take an interest I nature – they’re part of it – and help them understand that any form of waste is harmful to the environment”, she explains.

On one occasion she turned a beach visit into a mathematical challenge.

Two children sitting in front of a table full of cigarette ends along with their mathematical calculation


As part of a mathematical exercise they collected cigarette stubs from the beach and calculated how many packets it equated to, the cost and the total of unpaid littering fines that should have been paid. It shocked them both as well as me!”

Two children and their mathematical calculation after their beach clean up in Hong Kong

Another example was with sweets.

A couple of years ago, my children returned home with a huge amount of sweets generously handed out at our village Halloween night. The next morning we went to clean the beach and picked up so many sweet wrappers. When we got home, I asked the children to sort their sweets into piles: plastic wrapped and not wrapped in plastic, and those that they actually really wanted to eat.

They found for themselves that there was very little that they wanted and they were horrified at the plastic. This year, my son preferred to just hand out paper wrapped sweets and only accepted two sweets, because he said he didn’t want so much plastic rubbish!”

Dressing Your Child

Unlike today, there was no ‘online’ facility in the 80s and so I bought some super quality second-hand clothing from charity shops. To be honest it was more about saving money with four children to clothe, than recycling, but we also passed these on to friends when they had grown out of them, or gave them to Oxfam to send on to less fortunate children.

Lisa also bought or borrowed used clothing from friends and family.

My circle of girlfriends is great, as we just keep passing around our children’s clothes to each other.  Also, here in Hong Kong, there is such a plethora of Facebook Groups dedicated to selling children’s items, that finding good quality, cute clothes is pretty easy.

Plastic Free in the Kitchen

Lisa told us that she quickly realised after becoming a mother the insane amount of waste created by plastic kitchenware for children.  “It eventually either breaks or they grow out of it, and to the landfill it goes,”she says.

Buy plastic-free kitchenware: stainless steel is a great alternative as it’s equally durable, light and won’t break if dropped.  Cups, plates, water bottles, lunch boxes … all can be purchased in stainless steel form. “

The Toy Dilemma

Having a set of twin boys was a challenge when it came to finding toys with any longevity. I clearly remember Fisher Price and Tonka’s claims that their toys were indestructible – well they hadn’t been tested on my two, who between them must of eaten into company profits at a rapid rate with their guarantee return policies. Back in the 80s, we were not aware of the environmental impact plastic would have on our environment and so you can imagine how much plastic has simply been discarded over the years.

My solution was to buy the indestructible: metal cars, Lego, Meccano, and Transformers. These were all handed down to friends and family. My daughters on the other hand, kept everything pristine. Mostly plastic in the form of My Little Pony, Silvanian Families, etc, all passed on to friends, but today some of these toys fetch a fortune. The Fisher Price Garage – three were casualties in our house – went for 149.99 US dollars back in 2014! Some however, are still with us – Angus the Scottie Dog (age 33) and Care Bear (age 34), still loved and cherished. 

Toys from the 1980s

Fiona, another Hong Kong Mum of a three-and-a-half year old toddler, packs huge punches with her feelings around children’s toys.

Plastic crap seems to accumulate like magic. Our son has fewer toys than most of his friends, but there still seems to be a lot!

Second hand stuff is great. Our main sources are our friends with older kids; these have proved to be extremely useful, but we wouldn’t have bought them. Those I dislike most are the cheap ones, which contain electrics that break too quickly; so the more we avoid the better. Anything that can stay in one piece and be handed down later I have come to terms with!

My advice would be to buy toys made with sustainable materials, or used plastic ones.  We try really hard not to add more plastic waste into the system by following these two rules.  Of course birthday parties, holidays and grandparents often make this a bit more difficult, but every single bit of effort helps. And along the same line, buy other people’s children gifts that are waste free.  It often feels like my son has a birthday party every weekend, so taking the sustainable gift route puts my conscious at ease.”

Look out for our final tips for families with teenagers when we talk to renowned zero waste pioneer, Bea Johnson, about family life with her husband and boys.

Coffee cups piled high as waste

Latest zero waste news up-date – January 2018

The following is a round up of the latest zero waste news from around the World.

South China Morning Post: China Waste Import Rules Looming

With Hong Kong reportedly throwing away 5.2 million plastic bottles every single day, China’s new waste import rules means that its recycling facilities will not be able to deal with the disposal problem.

A recent study by The Baptist University found that the future looks bleak for half of Hong Kong recyclers with new China’s new regulations looming as they were already losing money even before the new regulations were imposed.

Researchers visited 205 recycling plants and discovered that the industry also faces a manpower shortage, long working hours and a risky occupational environment. 70 per cent of the plants visited were small businesses with fewer than five workers. Read more

The Guardian: Britain’s Plastic Footprint

An investigation by the Guardian newspaper has revealed that Britain’s leading supermarkets keep information on their plastic footprint secret. It found that more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste from food and beverage products is produced every year. The devastating impact on the environment equates to filling enough 10-yard skips to extend from London to Sydney, or cover the whole of Greater London to a depth of 2.5cm. The revelations add to the growing public concern about the damage plastic does to our natural world. Read more

CBC News in Canada: Cups, Containers and Bags

Vancouver is seeking ways to reduce the amount of cups, containers and bags that enter the waste facilities each year. 2.6 million cups alone are thrown away weekly even though they are recyclable. A temporary storefront at 511 West Broadway has been created to enable residents to submit their ideas on how to prevent coffee cups and other items from ending up in landfills. Read more

Chicago Tribune: McDonalds

McDonald’s have announced that they will recycle packaging in around 37,000 restaurants globally by 2025, as well as that all of its packaging will originate from renewable, recycled or certified sources where no deforestation occurs.

It is hoped that the move could pressure other large companies to follow suit as increasingly, consumers and investors are demanding corporations make commitments on such global issues as environmental sustainability and animal welfare. Read more

TheTimes: Shops charge 50% more for loose fruit

A minimum of 50 per cent of the produce at Britain’s leading supermarkets was discovered to be between 10 per cent and 54 per cent more expensive loose than wrapped in single-use plastic, according to Money Saving Expert research. Only Waitrose sold all the fresh produce included in the survey at a lower price when loose rather than packaged.

As part of the government’s 25-year environment plan, Prime Minister, Theresa May, has announced that she wanted all supermarkets to introduce plastic-free aisles in which all the food was sold loose. The government will be issuing a call for evidence in February on taxes or charges for single-use plastics. Read more


Guide to zero waste running in 2018

Fancy zero waste running in 2018?

We tend to criticise Hong Kong for its lack of environmental protection policies and crazy consumption. However, there is one thing we should all be thankful for: about three-quarters of its territory is countryside.

No wonder trail running is so popular in Hong Kong. It is also a powerful way to reduce your carbon footprint and reconnect with nature while getting stronger and healthier. To start running you only need a pair of shoes, a T-shirt and shorts or tights.

But trail running can be also wasteful. The more I ran last year, the more challenging it was to keep up my zero waste standards. As reaching the jar is one of my key resolutions this year, I talked to a few prominent trail runners and race directors to find out their plans and activities for 2018 and link them to zero waste lifestyle.

Zero waste run-solutions

Package free and healthy nutrition

Running requires a great deal of energy. Most of it comes from protein bars, electrolytes, powders – all wrapped in non-recyclable packaging. You can get away with a couple of bananas and apples, but it doesn’t work when you run long distances or add cardio workouts.

Silke Bender and Vlad Ixel are both accomplished trail runners and professional coaches. As they spend most of their time on the trails, nutrition becomes crucial. Vlad usually takes dates, a hydration pack filled with water and dissolvable electrolyte tablets on his trail runs.

No magic, just an easy way to avoid unnecessary packaging and waste,” he shares.

Silke adds: “To hydrate on my trail runs I bring water and coconut water. These are filled up at home into reusable hydration soft bottles, which means I don’t’ need to buy small bottles on the go, saving waste and money. Food wise I bring my homemade energy and protein balls in reusable zip bags”.

Cooking your own meals and choosing natural foods is a great tool, not only on the trails but as part of your daily snacks. You can find a great number of healthy recipes on Green Queen.

Photo credit: Green Queen
Photo credit: Silke Bender

Free water apps for trail running and hiking

Hydrating yourself is a huge priority if you go on a long run or hike. Running out of water might become a real nightmare, especially in summer. Luckily, you don’t need to buy the plastic bottles anymore – take your reusable one and refill it in the nearest water fountain. How to find them? There are currently two solutions in Hong Kong. Water for Free app is a crowdsourced tool available for both Android and IOS users. They also provide drinking fountain rental services.

Photo Credit: Water For Free

Another solution is the Water Initiative by HK Running launched in late 2017 to help athletes who are out running the trails or hiking to find the closest water fountain instead of having to buy another water bottle:

We are very pleased with the feedback so far having received support from a few of Hong Kong’s top environmental awareness and plastic reduction agencies: Ocean Recovery Alliance and Plastic Free HK. We are also looking forward to developing this in the future and helping HK become less dependent on single-use plastic items”, says David Tanner, Founder at HK Running.

David is also organising Women’s Five, Hong Kong’s women-only 5 week Running and Yoga programme to help them prepare, or to build on their fitness to for the run.

Map: HK Running

Zero waste running events

Taking part in running competitions is another milestone in your run-solutions. Whether it’s a 5km competition or a full 50k ultra, making it to the finish line is absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, seeing the start/finish line – and often the checkpoints – filled with plastic bottles and single-use cups kills the spirit. Add the race packs full of sponsors’ leaflets, unwanted T-shirts wrapped in plastic and you might reconsider your passion to run the race.

The Green Race (TGR) was the first one to thrive for zero waste events, providing the runners with sustainable alternatives to medals, race packs and offers from sponsors. LoopUnite! teamed up with TGR for one of their races in 2017 achieving 83% of waste reduction.

Photo credit: The Green Race

Fortunately, more and more Hong Kong races are becoming sustainable. Steven Carr is one of the founders at RaceBase, famous for The 9 Dragons Race and The Country of Origin, among other running events. Having seen the massive amount of rubbish left at those races, Steven and his team decided to prevent it as much as possible.:

At the pre-race stage, no plastic will be used to wrap the race pack or medals. Factories have been asked to use less plastic in their packaging and this is at our cost”, reassures Steven.

RaceBase will ask participants to bring their own cups and utensils for any food during the event. To attack the waste produced during the event, RaceBase will have separate containers at all checkpoints and send it later to recycling centres, while food waste will be sent to composting.

Photo Credit: RaceBase

At the Women’s Five we try and be as less wasteful as possible, one example is the merchandise we give to everyone in race packs – some of it is usually individually wrapped in plastic, but we make sure to order them in bulk and not individually wrapped“, says David Tanner.

You can check the 2018 race calendar for Asia and start setting your milestones.

Donating your unwanted clothes

Runners tend to try out many pairs of shoes before finding the ones that fit their needs most. Add here the GPS watches, backpacks, poles and other items left behind by their newest models – and you have another big wardrobe problem. What should you do if they are still in good condition? Donate them to less privileged runners!

Gone Running is a popular online and physical shop, “for runners, by runners” as they describe themselves. They are collecting donations for the Nepalese runners and most recently they launched a new campaign, where you can donate your old working GPS watches and get a 200HKD voucher if you decide to purchase the newer model.

Likewise, Steven’s team is working with two green charities “who will collect any unwanted finishing gifts to be sent to other charities who can use these” at their races.

Beach cleanups and runs

Many of us have offered our help at least one beach cleanup in Hong Kong. Why not to merge it with trail running? Keilem Ng is a famous eco-warrior and activist. She started with “One person – 30 minutes” initiative, where she spends 30 minutes for a regular beach cleanup in Lantau, and documenting it on social media. Keilem then founded Eco Marine, a Lantau based non-profit organisation that aims to promote local marine and environmental awareness.

“At Eco Marine, beyond discouraging single-use plastic items like single-use water bottles, disposable rain jackets etc, we encourage a ‘take out policy’ where we carry away our own rubbish items as well as pick up additional rubbish items we may see on the trails. We believe every little action counts and a small change by every individual can together create great impact”, explains Keilem.

Photo Credit: Keilem Ng

You can join The Eco Marine Adventure Cleanup #2 on Sunday and meet Mira Rai, a legendary Nepalese runner.

Trail running is only one of the millions of options to improve your fitness, health and nutrition goals simultaneously in 2018. It’s also an exciting way to go zero waste and be part of the glocal community that always inspires and supports you.

Do hope this article inspires you to lace up your shoes and hit one of the HK trails!

Photo credit: Women’s five
Loop Coach Programme - Loop Coaches Paola and Aigul at The Green Race

Loop Coach Programme Launches for 2018!

Loop Coach Programme

While continuing to coach private clients, LoopUnite is opening new Loop Coach public group programmes with Dream Impact, our partner sponsoring the venue. There will be three programmes to look forward to this year:

1  Low Impact Lifestyle

Reduce 80% of your household rubbish within one month.

2  Zero Waste Lifestyle

Start your own Zero Waste annual jar and reduce your recyclables and compostables.

3   Circular Lifestyle

Start to think in system, get to know the bigger issues and make a larger impact at a community level.

Our first programme, Low Impact Lifestyle, is ready and currently taking student registrations. The second and third programmes will begin shortly.

LoopUnite Coach Programmes: How to reduce 80% of your household waste in one month

Delighted with the early interest we have already attracted, we are looking forward to more people joining us. If you, your family and friends are interested, please join our FREE intro session on 12 January at Dream Impact co-working space, Lai Chi Kok.

Loop Coach classes are limited to a maximum of 10 students. You can reach a dramatic reduction in your waste in just four sessions with Loop Coach, and be part of our Loop Tribe community. Together we will support each other to live a sustainable life.

We look forward to meeting you very soon!


Check out more details of our Loop Coach programme on our Facebook and Eventbrite page.

Zero Waste 2017 and 2018 Goals

Gifts were opened, fireworks died down, and today my jet lag is finally over. The New Year has arrived, but before I embrace it, I’m taking a day for annual reflection and set my vision for  2018. So here goes.

“2017 was undoubtedly an eventful year.”

On the bright side, I married the most amazing man, Adam, and gained a wonderful new family in the UK. We built a comfortable life in Hong Kong and went on some amazing adventures together. I discovered that my passion for environmental issues had been consistent, so I founded an eco-minded startup, LoopUnite. I also met a talented multilingual brand journalist and entrepreneur called Aigul, who became my co-founder.

On the down side, LoopUnite experienced a number of pivots that slowed us down – apparently quite normal for startups! With hindsight, those pivots were valuable journeys which enabled us to find our company’s core value: coaching those interested in living a truly sustainable life in an urban environment like Hong Kong by practicing Zero Waste Lifestyle.

My 2017 Zero Waste Jar

The first of January 2017 was a day similar to that of today. My reflection on that day convinced me I was ready to start my zero waste jar. Not knowing what size I needed, I decided to start with my smallest and adjusted with time. Every time my rubbish outgrew the jar, I moved it to one slightly bigger, until I reached the final rubbish weight on 31 Dec 2017 of 289 gram (not including the jar).

Rubbish for me was waste that I couldn’t managed to avoid or divert from landfill. It’s important to note that I still recycled and composted, confident that my recyclables and compostables were accountably processed to be part of another production cycle. I also offset my other environmental impact with online carbon calculators, especially the flights I took, and contributed to various local charities and social causes, both by donating my time and money.

Whenever I showed the jar and repeated my story to an audience, I saw jaws dropping in the room. Disbelief quickly turned into curiosity and a myriad of questions on how I managed to did it. I realised that people did (and do) care about their environment, but at a loss on how to do better, and that’s how the idea of Loop Coach came about.

My 2018 Zero Waste Goal

Adam and I used the same jar in 2017, but this year we are experimenting with separate jars, to monitor our individual waste. We will also invest in new ways and alternative products to further reduce our recyclables and compostables.

For example, in 2017 we used Nespresso pods and returned them to the shop to be recycled. For 2018, we have decided to keep our machine, but use reusable stainless steel pods and buy coffee in bulk. The coffee waste is added to our compost tumbler to produce even better quality compost. The solution works by having a few reusable pods and load them up once a week for convenience – we will also save a great deal of money in the long run.

Business-wise, Aigul and I believe that sustainable living is a practical skill that everyone can learn over a short period of time, practice for life, and will never go out of fashion. That’s why LoopUnite will focus on developing the Loop Coach Programme in 2018.

Loop Coach Programme

While continuing to coach private clients, LoopUnite is opening new Loop Coach public group programmes with Dream Impact, our partner who sponsors the space. There will be three programmes to look forward to this year:

  1. Low Impact Lifestyle: reduce 80% of your household rubbish within one month
  2. Zero Waste Lifestyle: start your Zero Waste annual jar and reduce your recyclables and compostables Circular
  3. Lifestyle: Start to think in system, get to know the bigger issue and produce larger impact in community level.

Delighted with the early interest we have already attracted, we are looking forward to more people joining us. If you, your family and friends are interested, please join our FREE intro session on 12 January at Dream Impact co-working space, Lai Chi Kok.

Loop Coach classes are limited to a maximum of 10 students. You can reach a dramatic reduction in your waste in just four sessions with Loop Coach, and be part of our Loop Tribe community. Together we will support each other to live a sustainable life.

Have a happy and waste-free 2018!


Check out more details of our Loop Coach programme on our Facebook and Eventbrite page.


Top 5 New Year Resolutions for 2018

This is a light-hearted look at my personal top 5 New Year’s resolutions for 2018.

Interestingly, one third of those who responded to a New York poll this year chose to make no resolutions at all! However, I’m determined to follow the New Yorker’s most common aspirations for the coming year: to eat healthier, get more exercise and to save more money.

1. Exercise More

I really need to take a leaf out of my business partner Aigul’s book and take up trail running. Common issue for all of us is time so I’m determined to build exercise into my weekly routine.

2. Eat Healthier

I’m already spotting a common theme here. I love to cook everything from fresh, especially Indonesian food, but again this takes time. I shall make time, cook double or triple portions of everything and freeze for the hectic days.

3. Sleep More

Experts at the Sleep Foundation say I need 7-9 hours sleep every night. This is essential for my body to relax and restore itself so all devices will be switched off from now on for at least 7 hours.

4. Spend Less

Those who know me understand my love of shopping. However, my perspective changed when I became a zero waster. Now I search for the best quality second hand items I can find; these normally cost less than similar, inferior quality new items and last longer. For example, I spent HK$500 for a preloved Burberry jacket instead of buying a new one from Zara. I also buy less –and only things I actually need – so have saved money and aim to continue spending less.

5. Inspire More

My Zero Waste jar journey has been amazing and I love sharing this with my fellow Hongkongers. I definitely aim to design more Loop Coach workshops and programmes for 2018 and continue to spread the word.

You can read the more elaborate article reflecting on 2017 and my Zero Waste 2018 goals here.

Made in Santa's Workshop -Red bauble hanging on a Christmas Tree

Santa’s workshop – fact not fiction

Santa’s Workshop

Ever wondered where your Christmas decorations came from?

You can forget the Disneyfied versions of a Santa’s workshop with hundreds of cute elves working happily together in a warm, friendly environment for a jolly Santa Claus.

19-year-old Chinese worker Wei wearing a face mask removes red powder on his hands at a factory in Yiwu city, east China's Zhejiang province

Image: Santa’s Workshop

Back in 2014, The Guardian reported on the plight of the mainly migrant labourers, working 12 to 13 hours a day for a maximum of £200 to £300 a month. This all happens in ‘Yiwu Christmas Village’ – a conglomeration of 600 workshops and factories, all helping to create a humongous festive ‘wonder-world of plastic tat’.

In 2015, The Independent relayed the same story concentrating more on where the merchandise is heading: “the world’s largest wholesale market”, covering 4 million square metres, formally known as China Commodity City.

And this year the story continues via ABC News who recently reported that between September 2016 and August 2017, Santa’s workshop churned out $3 billion worth of Christmas products. Their destination: the US, Russia, Latin America and China.

World demand for Christmas decorations shows no signs of abating which means Yiwu Village will continue to be the real Santa’s workshop for the foreseeable future.

Here at LoopUnite! we ask that you please rethink your Christmas and bring on your personal zero waste magic. Our recent article ‘Happy Zero Waste Christmas‘ is a great start.


Need help to reduce your waste? Our Loop Tribe Coach will guide your waste reduction journey and show you how to live a zero waste lifestyle in Hong Kong. Loop Coach is result-driven, effective, and affordable. If you follow the programme, you will see an immediate and dramatic waste reduction, and improved quality of life.

Caption: 19-year-old Chinese worker Wei removes red powder on his hands. AP/Yang Guang

Image stating I shop therefore I am

We’ve Had It So Good… Until We Don’t

How reducing your resource footprint can help save the planet

We live in an age of abundance – at no prior time in human history have we had it so good. Or so we think…

We have access to an astounding bounty of contemporary goods and services that our ancestors could only dream of: affordable consumer products (fueled to a large extent by the remarkable rise of China), low-cost flights that make inter-State travel a commonplace activity, fast-fashion houses that release multiple collections per year, disposable electronics that get ‘upgraded’ annually…the list goes on.

This is the height of the consumerism age, where we are made to believe that ‘We deserve it’ and the next new material acquisition will bring us the ever so coveted happiness, status and peace of mind. What we do not realise is that the show cannot go on forever. We live on a finite planet, with a finite amount of physical resources at our disposal. Infinite growth and infinite consumption are simply a material impossibility.

In fact, every year we go into ‘ecological overdraft’, a phenomenon called  Earth Overshoot Day. This year it fell on 2 August 2017, meaning that by 2 August we had already used up more ecological resources and services than the planet can naturally regenerate through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can sequester. For the rest of the year, we effectively went into ecological debt, borrowing the Earth’s resources from the future, but without the future generations’ consent. The (even more) disturbing part is that Earth Overshoot Day comes closer each year:

We now need 1.7 Earths just to sustain ourselves, and this happens in a world where nearly half of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than US$2.50 a day.

But before we have run out of material ‘stuff’, there is a far more worrying phenomenon that we so conveniently choose to ignore – climate change. Our consumption patterns impact not only our material environment, but also natural ecosystems, biodiversity, air quality, land and water pollution…you name it.

The link between material consumption and climate change is well-defined. Manufacturing – much of it for international markets – uses 54% of the world’s total delivered energy, especially in industries such as petrochemicals, metals and paper. Every year 322 million tons of plastic, 59 million tons of aluminum and 240 million tons of paper and paperboard are produced in the world. The result: 1.2 billion tons of garbage produced by three billion people living in cities every year.

The sheer scale of the challenge is often unimaginable and frequently placed out of sight and out of mind. But the consequences of our selective ignorance are magnanimous. There are not only ecological, but also great economic costs to the disposable economy that we currently operate. Indeed, according to UNCTAD, we are losing €48 billion a year in e-waste alone. In terms of climate-harming greenhouse emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2), research suggests that a shift to a more circular economy would result in a whopping 33% reduction of product carbon footprint.

The solutions don’t lie in the hands of large organisations, governments and businesses alone. As the Christmas shopping season fervently approaches, there are some immediate steps you can take to contribute your fair share for a future-proof world. I will use the fashion industry as a case study example. It is quite a compelling one because the global fashion industry is projected to consume an astounding quarter of the world’s annual carbon budget by 2050. Moreover, the fashion business creates greenhouse emissions of 1.2bn tonnes a year – larger than that of international aviation and shipping combined. This should not come as a surprise, given that Zara delivers new products twice each week to its 1,670 stores around the world, adding up to more than 10,000 new designs each year (compare that to the usual 4-season fashion cycle that was, until recently, the norm).

Endless fashion & consumer choices can actually result in choice anxiety, as this year’s Nobel Laureate in Economics Richard Thaler so insightfully demonstrated in his research. You heard it correctly: having too many choices (i.e. choice overload) can actually bring about reduced wellbeing and satisfaction.

So what can you personally do to help address these issues?

  • Step 1: Be a Smart & Responsible consumer:

Ask yourself whether you really need this (flashy) new item and whether it was sustainably and organically sourced. This can contribute to improved working conditions in apparel factories and you can make sure you are not putting harmful chemicals so close to your skin.

  • Step 2: Think before you buy

Impulse shopping: we have all been there. Using shopping as a therapy that distracts us from other problems has become commonplace. My advice: try not to find refuge in the first Flash Sale when you need a serotonin boost and aim to tackle your problems head-on (as this is the only way to truly resolve them). Your wallet can thank me later. J

  • Step 3: Go vintage

Thrift and vintage stores do have this romantic appeal and you can find pieces that are truly unique (unlike the run-of-the-mill fast-fashion products that have no real character). Plus, you can save a fortune by buying higher quality durable products that have stood the test of style and time.

  • Step 4: Donate & Declutter

At least once a year, go over your wardrobe and pick the clothes that you haven’t worn during the past year. You can donate them to your nearest clothes bank or charity store (like the Salvation Army). Or you can organise a clothes swap sale with your friends.

  • Step 5: Consider a non-material Christmas/Holiday

What could be more magical than giving the gift of time and dedication? In our age of attention span deficit, our time is the most valuable gift our friends and family can receive. Treasure experiences and not material belongings. Organise a road trip, book a sports class together or take care of your loved ones with a spa treatment – there are so many possibilities that will not only help the environment, but will also bring you closer, leaving many memories to treasure for holidays to come.

We live in an age where everything has become disposable, even human relationships (read here: Tinder-fuelled dating, no judgment). Real, long-term value and life satisfaction do not just happen overnight: we need to work for them. A thousand-mile journey starts with a single step, and today seems a pretty good day to set off.