‘The first day we opened Edgar’s Wan Chai store, people were walking in and pulling containers out of their bags – and they didn’t know about the store or that they’d be shopping there that day. I was impressed. Some had very simple containers, others had newfangled ones. All the same, you could see the desire to make a change was there,’ starts Raphaël De Ry, owner of Hong Kong’s boutique bulk grocery shop Edgar.
The change De Ry is referring to is the adoption of the zero-waste movement – a lifestyle that advocates eliminating, or at least severely limiting, the amount of trash sent to landfills or incinerators through initiatives such as BYO containers, which are used to transport food sans any unessential packaging.
It’s a concept that sits at the core of Edgar, which just opened a charming second store on Moon Street. Along with jars and tubes filled with an assortment of mostly organic pantry goods (think muesli, pasta, chocolates, cookies, and freeze-dried vegetables and fruit), the space also stocks tools for embracing the zero-waste lifestyle – from starter-pack stainless steel straws and sustainable water bottles to advanced-class tubeless toothpaste and reusable makeup remover pads.
Bulk grocery shop Edgar has brought its zero-waste ethos to Star Street
For those new to the movement, De Ry suggests starting with simple daily changes such as ‘switching to reusable water bottles and refusing items that are not necessary like plastic cutlery and excess packaging. Tea bags, for example, as insignificant as it might sound, really contribute a lot to landfill. And Hong Kong throws away 5.2 million bottles every single day. It’s about stopping to ask yourself “Is this really necessary? Or can I change my habits and avoid damaging the environment?”’
While De Ry admits there’s still a long way to go until Hong Kong catches up to global city leaders in sustainability (San Francisco, for example, is currently diverting an impressive 80% of its waste through reusing, recycling and composting), he’s optimistic. ‘People don’t have trust in the recycling movement here at the moment, but at the same time, you can see some amazing initiatives happening.’