As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact on everyday life, the general public has begun to explore different forms of entertainment. In particular, the popularity of hiking has soared to an all-time high in Hong Kong – but so have the volumes of rubbish left behind. The 2021 “Hong Kong Countryside Rubbish Survey”, conducted by Green Power, indicated that with visits to the countryside continuing to increase during the pandemic, concerns have grown regarding the impact on the environment, with people leaving large amounts of garbage such as plastic bottles, plastic bags and disposable tableware on trails. Some of this discarded food and packaging may be ingested by animals, putting their health in danger.
The survey also found that more than 60% of respondents generated an average of 2.5 pieces of plastic waste during each visit. Among the types of waste discarded on trails, tissue paper was the most common (68%), followed by food packaging (61%), and then plastic bags and disinfectant wipes (48%). On average, each visitor produced one to two pieces of such rubbish during each outing.
One positive note is that more than half of respondents said they would take away their own rubbish at the end of the trips, and that figure has been increasing over recent years.
Remember not to throw rubbish on trails as it not only spoils the natural beauty but also increases the workload of cleaners – please leave no trace of your presence when hiking and camping!
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Whatever You Carry, Bring It Back
Minimize Fire Impacts
Use Durable Surfaces
Leave What You Find
Be Considerate to Other Visitors
Remember to take ALL your trash away and don’t leave anything behind after hiking or camping. You may think that some of your rubbish will decompose, but actually it could increase the burden on the natural surroundings.
Tissue paper will decompose naturally. Is that correct?
It’s only partly correct. An experiment conducted overseas demonstrated that tissue paper will not start decomposing until it rains – and the speed of decomposition varies according to the size and thickness of the tissue paper. That means a wad of tissue paper left in our beautiful countryside could take a few months – and as long as a few years – to decompose entirely.
I can throw fruit peel on the hill as fertilizer, right?
Can I leave fruit seeds on hills to add to the diversity of plants?
Seeds are generally harder than fruit peel and in fact are more difficult to decompose. Even if the seeds left on hills can successfully germinate and grow, this may disrupt the ecological balance in that area. Species that did not exist originally may begin to occupy the space and use all the nutrients over time. As a result, the local ecosystem will be affected with a food chain created that interferes with nature.