Meet the group of passionate women who are fighting single-use plastics in Hong Kong

"Ocean’s 8" might be the talk of the town, but Hong Kong has its own "Ocean’s 11" who’ve just released their latest blockbuster—a short film highlighting the city’s ever-pressing plastics problem.

Shot over 10 days in Hong Kong, “Start Small, Start Now” is a collaboration between award-winning film duo Photo Escapes and EcoDrive, a non-profit organisation founded in November 2017 by 11 Hong Kong women who—instead of planning a heist—are masterminding the demise of single-use plastics.

They include Tatler 500 listers Emily Lam-Ho, Yolanda Choy-Tang, Tansy Lau-Tom and Angela Cheng-Matsuzawa (see the full list of founders below)—all of whom are coincidentally mothers, and influential women in their own right.

Together, they’re championing change in Hong Kong corporations and schools through educational film screenings, audits and advice on reducing single-use plastics and tailored events such as panel discussions and speakers series.

EcoDrive Hong Kong

Since November, EcoDrive Hong Kong has screened “A Plastic Ocean” (a documentary showing the startling amount of plastic pollution in our seas) to over 9,000 individuals, advised Hong Kong’s private members clubs on how to reduce their disposable plastic usage and educated over 4,000 students on the subject of single-use plastics. 

With partners including the Plastic Oceans Foundation, Plastic Free Seas, WWF and Jane Goodall Institute, the focus is very much on educating the next generation. 

“It’s really for the children,” said EcoDrive co-founder Sherry Fung at the premiere of “Start Small, Start Now," the group's first-ever original production.

“We’re not going to see all the changes because we’re leaving the world to our children. My quote [for EcoDrive] is, ‘We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.’”

Fellow EcoDrive co-founder Emily Lam-Ho also shared how motherhood changed her perspective on recycling.

“I lived in America for so many years when I was studying and I was always recycling, but there was never really a purpose behind it—it was just ingrained. But, the purpose became stronger the second I became a mom because there’s suddenly a reason why you’re doing this.”

Start Small, Start Now

Like “A Plastic Ocean”, “Start Small, Start Now” shows the shocking amount of plastic pollution in Hong Kong—from the suffocating amount of styrofoam and plastic bags used in takeaway orders from a Sheung Wan congee shop to the infinite mounds of rubbish washed up daily on what would otherwise be a beautiful Hong Kong beach.

Featuring stunning drone videography and inspirational interviews with local activists, it’s a film that definitely makes you want to take action.

“We had so much material; it took a long time to cut down,” said EcoDrive co-founder Claire Yates (whose youngest brother is one half of Photo Escapes).

“We wanted to make a film that was short enough to keep people’s attention and to keep people asking questions, because the whole point of it is to start a conversation.”

Get involved

Ready to take action against single-use plastics? Here are three things you can do straight away:

  1. Say no to straws—bring your own reusable stainless steel straw instead.
  2. Carry a reusable water bottle, coffee cup and Tupperware with you. 
  3. Bring your own reusable bag for grocery shopping. 

In a city where 5.2 million plastic water bottles are thrown away each day (not to mention all the plastic bags, straws and boxes), these small steps can make a huge difference in fighting Hong Kong's single-use plastics epidemic.

Learn more about EcoDrive Hong Kong.

EcoDrive Hong Kong founders:

  1. Yolanda Choy-Tang, founder of Central Weddings and The Private Wine Company
  2. Emily Lam-Ho, founder and CEO of Empact28, an impact investment company
  3. Cissy Wang, co-founder of Super Bullet Pictures and wife of international movie star Donnie Yen
  4. Tansy Lau-Tom, full-time mother
  5. Sabrina Pang-Fung, health coach and founder of Monday’s Child
  6. Angela Cheng-Matsuzawa, co-founder of PunchDetox
  7. Jennifer Wang-Fang, committee member for Adventist Hospital’s Women of Hope
  8. Julie Lee, chief innovation officer of Edipresse Media Asia
  9. Claire Yates, founder of The Lion Rock Press
  10. Laura Derry-Southwood, founder and managing director of lifestyle PR agency, Prime
  11. Sherry Fung, social issues ambassador
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