Last year, 11 Hong Kong women from the Tatler community joined forces to fight one of our world’s most pressing issues: single-use plastics. Known collectively as EcoDrive Hong Kong, they've been running outreach and education programmes at Hong Kong schools, private members clubs and local sports teams to reduce their plastic footprint (and that's just the start). In our latest series, get to know these 11 inspirational women who are making Hong Kong a greener place. Up next is Tatler 500 lister and animal-lover, Tansy Lau-Tom:

Why and how did you decide to become one of the founders of EcoDrive Hong Kong?

I've always been passionate about environmental issues, especially those that affect animals. I first noticed cows eating plastic on the road in Bali, then how much trash (including recyclables) piled up next to the trash cans in Hong Kong and how no one seemed to be bothered by it.

Later, I started reading about the plastic pollution issue and talking to friends about it. Since we were all passionate about the situation, we decided to form EcoDrive. We all have different skill sets and working experiences but we are all mothers—we care about the next generation.

Why are you passionate about reducing single-use plastics?

Because we are producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is single-use. Single-use plastics can be largely avoidable if people make a conscious behavioral change. Through education and talking to corporates, we hope to instil a habit change in people and provide alternatives to single-use plastics.

See also: Introducing EcoDrive Hong Kong

What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to plastics usage in HK?

Oh, there are so many! The restaurant servers seem to think that giving drinks with straws equates to high quality service. I was at a restaurant and ordered a glass of water that came with a plastic straw. I absolutely do not understand why they need to do that.

Another peeve is how supermarkets wrap every single fruit and vegetable in plastic wrap, even avocados, lemons and watermelon. Not to mention the plastic umbrella covers that malls and buildings have at the entrance, which people use for five mins and then throw away. 

What actions have you taken in your own life and/or business to help reduce plastic waste?

I carry a couple of containers with me when I dine out so I can pack leftovers without using plastic, and when I order take out, I tell the restaurants to wait until I get there so I can fill up my own containers. I carry my own bag when I go shopping to avoid any paper wraps or bags, and if I cannot reduce totally, I reuse any plastic bags for storage, travel or garbage liners. I also try to avoid anything made of plastic, opting for bamboo, paper or glass items instead. 

Plastic seems to be a necessary evil in our modern world. Given that, what do you think is the future of plastic? Can we really live without it?

Plastic has helped our society in tremendous way and has saved millions of lives, so I'm not saying that it's evil. We just need to use it responsibly.

For the future of plastic, I think we need to tackle the issue from different angles, such as reducing our dependance on it by making changes both at the individual level and government level, creating a new material that is as durable as plastic but can be totally biodegradable, and creating a circular economy through an efficient recycling system that converts it into fuel or energy.

See also: 11 Eco-Essentials For A Plastic-Free Life

What are some tips you have for everyone to reduce single-use plastics?

Start by reading about the plastic pollution problem and decide on the first action you'd like to take. Some people might ask their local bakery chains to start using paper bags instead of plastic, while others start in their own kitchens or bathrooms to make a change. 

Are there any other ways that we can protect the environment?

When hiking or visiting the beach, throw away your own trash. Use water responsibly and don't use products that contain microbeads. Turn off your lights or air conditioners when no one is using it, and eat less meat. Protect and be kind to animals, as they are essential for the wellbeing of the environment.

What other causes are you passionate about?

I am passionate about helping animals and stopping animal cruelty. A lot of people do not know the truth about elephant rides and buying dogs from pet shops. I have been a supporter of the Hong Kong Dog Rescue for many years, and would really like to spread the word about adopting dogs instead of buying.

What are some of your favourite anti-plastic products? 

Styling: Grace Lam | Hair: Alex Chan | Makeup: Megumi Sekine | Clothing: EcoDrive T-shirt, denim items from Tansy 

See also: Start Small, Start Now: Introducing EcoDrive Hong Kong

Watch "Start Small, Start Now" here

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