Charity Closet with Emily Lam Ho
Meet Emily! Married to Kent, and mother to a three-year-old son and a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Emily Lam Ho is a force for environmental impact in Hong Kong. Empact28 CEO and Founder, and Co-Founder of EcoDrive Hong Kong, Emily has recently opened the Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel with her family. The hotel is leading the way with cutting-edge sustainability solutions including rainwater collection systems, vertical planting, bamboo toothbrushes and cornstarch tableware for kids. Emily is also passionate about women’s empowerment, and serves as a council member of the Women’s Commission, working on projects spanning education, healthcare and social welfare among many civic roles.
You are extremely driven to find a solution for reducing plastic waste in Hong Kong. What fuels your passion for this project?
I have always been interested and wanting to contribute to sustainability efforts but I think I really started taking tangible action steps, like through reducing plastic waste, after becoming a mother. Just learning more about the harms that we have been doing to the environment was a big wake up call, it’s even more heartbreaking when it’s my home, Hong Kong. So trying to contribute as much as I can, for a better future for my children and the next generation, my interest was turned into my passion.
What are some simple ways to reduce everyday plastic usage, for people who are unsure how to make the first steps.
I think there are lots of ways to start small but still make an impact, as long as you are willing to start now! One of the easiest start is using your own reusable water bottle (like an mm goi one ;)) to reduce bottled water consumption. Another simple act is to stop using plastic straws and drink directly from the cup. If you must drink from a straw, consider buying your own reusable metal ones, you can keep a set at work and a set at home! I think an important part is just being more conscious of when you using or generating plastic waste and try to find simple alternatives. And worst case, if you generated waste, at least recycle!
You are launching a green education programme for kids at Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott hotel. What topics will you cover? How have you taught your own children to have a green mindset.
Yes! Very excited about this - I think kids need to be educated and made aware of the damage that we are doing to our environment, including how some of the plastic waste harms our “ocean friends” that they love seeing at Ocean Park. The understanding needs to start when they are young and we can help them develop some good green habits by starting small (i.e., no straws, recycle, don’t be wasteful, etc.) and that will hopefully stick with them and turn into their mindset as they continue to grow!
How does your drive for sustainability impact how you dress your children?
I have always heard of how quickly children grow out of their clothes but honestly didn’t fully appreciate the magnitude of waste until I became a mother myself. I think I became even more conscious of the issue as my first grew and when I prepare for my second child. Just like everything else, I believed in starting small but trying to make an impact - and in my case, within my household, I tried to buy more unisex items such that my daughter could wear some of her brothers old clothes, especially for a lot of the basic items. I also try to “size up” as much as I can, instead of buying perfect fit, I try to buy “ahead” and even if it’s a bit big, my kids can wear it for a bit longer so it’s less wasteful. I also encourage within my friends group to share clothes. A good friend of mine had a daughter 3 months after I had my daughter, so even during her pregnancy, I have been coordinating with her to pass along a lot of the items that my baby girl was outgrowing so she could use them. Obviously another important part of this is to try our best to keep the clothes in decent conduction such that others can utilize and extend the lifecycle is the article of clothing.
How do you mindfully clear out your children's outgrown clothing?
I think the focus is routinely purge and again, in light of all the mess that kids make, try to keep them in as good of a condition as possible. We typically do a “closet check” on a monthly basis, making sure anything that’s outgrown, we organize them either for donation to those in need or for giveaway to friends who are interested in getting hand-me-downs.
Tell us about your non-profit organisation EcoDrive, and what upcoming projects we can look forward to?
EcoDrive is ran by a group of likeminded women, who are out there wanting to make an impact in reducing the harms that we are doing to our environment. In addition to more education programs to raise awareness (from kids to grown ups), more partnerships with companies to raise funds through events, we are hoping to make more large scale impacts through influencing corporate and governmental policies. One step at a time, we will continue to “chip away” at the issue through clean up and educational events but we will also keep pushing for the policy scale type changes!
#weretykle because... I want to contribute to a sustainable future! Waste reduction - from plastic to fashion - is not a small task, but if everyone does their part, no matter how small (no straw, recycle clothes, etc.) that can help contribute to a better future for everyone!- Emily Lam Ho