Friends of the Earth (HK) was established in 1983 as a charitable organisation; it is one of Hong Kong’s most prominent green groups. Friends of the Earth (HK) is dedicated to protecting the environment locally and regionally by engaging government, business and society in promoting solutions to create environmentally sustainable public policies, business practices and lifestyles.
Edwin Lau has been with Friends of the Earth (HK) for over two decades and is currently its Director. His first project in his early days with FoE (HK) was waste paper recycling for schools – the first initiative of this kind in Hong Kong. Edwin is an advocator who has gradually changed the community perception of waste management. He inspires people to understand “waste” is not waste and is indeed valuable resources!
Edwin’s great passion is the Reduce, Re-use and Recycle movement. Over the years he has worked on this area giving numerous workshops and public speeches. He has also involved FoE (HK) in various recycling schemes with the Government, and the private sector has become an authority on waste reduction, respected by other green groups and Government alike.
In a city like Hong Kong where the throw-away mentality unfortunately predominates, Edwin’s efforts have brought to public attention the environmental desirability and the economic feasibility of responsible consumption, reusing what we have for longer, and imaginatively recycling what we really can no longer use. Edwin has given the recycling effort a strong sense of purpose.
Edwin now focuses more on waste avoidance. Waste avoidance cannot be separated from air pollution and air quality – it is the same problem. Power generation and the transport sector are the primary source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in Hong Kong. The public needs to understand that if you save energy, you reduce the pollution, you clean the air AND you save money.
Edwin started as a project officer in FoE (HK). By following international news, he learnt new things about technology as well as policy and kept abreast of what people were doing in other countries to understand and recommend appropriate initiatives for Hong Kong.
The extinction of species, nuclear waste, climate change and the disappearing forests made him realise that humankind needed to do more and act immediately for the environment for this and the future generations. Media is a potent channel for change – to get the message across.
Everyone needs to be reminded of our impact on the environment. From individuals to corporate we all must shrink our ecological footprint to make this planet sustainable. Currently, the business world still considers profits first. Therefore it is vital for governments to establish comprehensive policies and legislation to guide us along the path of sustainable development.
While FoE (HK) continues promoting many green initiatives in the community, the working team of FoE (HK) has also tried our best to reduce waste and conserve energy through good housekeeping practice in its office.
When asked his hopes and visions for the future, Edwin replied: “There is hope for the environment if all of us can change our habits and actions and most important, our attitude.”