logo
The Best Of Hong Kong
Lifestyle News
By Kate Springer | October 5th, 2015

The environment is under siege around the world, and Hong Kong’s hands aren’t exactly squeaky clean. Sonalie Figueiras, co-founder of eco living website Green Queen, talks about sustainable business in Hong Kong and how you can lead a cleaner, greener lifestyle.

A little background

Green Queen began as a way for Sonalie to keep track of where to find eco and organic products in Hong Kong. When she embarked on a cleaner and more conscious lifestyle, it took her ages to locate toxin-free cleaning products and pesticide-free produce. Assuming others were struggling too, Sonalie put together an online guide with [her co-founder] Tracy Turo.
Sonalie has a banking and consulting background, but her real passion lies in food and the pursuit of a greener lifestyle. She has been working on Green Queen and her other business Ekowarehouse (a global platform for certified organic and eco-label products) for the past four years.

5 things you should know, according to Sonalie

1. Gluten-free is trending

We do a lot of Google search trend analysis as part of our consulting arm. One fascinating find we came upon is how much the gluten-free movement has taken off locally. Two years ago, there were almost no searches for gluten-free products, brands, and restaurants by Hongkongers on Google. Today it is one of the fastest growing search terms in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is no doubt experiencing a health and wellness zeitgeist.

2. Going eco-friendly is expensive…

Whilst the proliferation of sustainable, eco, and organic businesses has been incredible in the past year, Hong Kong is no doubt experiencing a health and wellness zeitgeist. This lifestyle continues to be, for the most part, inaccessible for the average Hongkonger due to cost. It’s an expensive pursuit.

Go green, eat kale
Go green, eat kale
3. …and time consuming

People in Hong Kong are crazy-busy and manage intense schedules. Cost and convenience are the two biggest challenges Hongkongers face when adopting healthier and greener habits. We need more options everywhere to drive down price and encourage mass public buy-in. However, I think people would also be surprised to know how many locally made healthy food products exist in Hong Kong. We have everything from kombucha to almond milk to mustard to raw chocolate bars to vegan ice cream food-preneurs.

4. Not to mention misleading

Because of problems like “greenwashing” [deceptive promotion of eco-friendly products] and a lack of labeling laws, we talk to consumers who are almost too skeptical and have what statisticians call analysis-paralysis due to serious media information-overload. Overall, the rules to follow are simple: source your veggies from local organic farms, buy the best meat and fish you can afford and eat it sparingly, support fair trade brands, recycle or give away what you don’t use and shop less. It’s not rocket science!

 We talk to consumers who are almost too skeptical and have what statisticians call analysis-paralysis due to serious media information-overload.

5. But it’s not rocket science

I think it’s important to start with food and fitness. Commit to hiking — it’s free and therapeutic, we are so incredibly lucky to have trails at our doorstep. You can also commit to getting local organic produce delivered, so that you are supporting our Hong Kong farming community and it is much cheaper than buying imported fruits and vegetables.

And looking to the future?

I am a huge believer of the phrase: vote with your dollar. I hope we get to a point where eating sustainably, making eco-friendly shopping choices and living a waste-free lifestyle becomes the norm. We aren’t there yet, but there are many reasons to be hopeful in Hong Kong thanks to numerous initiatives, businesses, social enterprises and non-profits all working to raise awareness and educate the general public about the importance of living eco-conspicuously.