As we enter into a very precarious time for our planet, where all of our past mistakes regarding the environment are coming home to roost, it’s hard to remain complacent. Everything from extreme weather patterns to rising sea-levels are a constant fixture on many of our social media platforms, and it’s quite frightening.
Like many other expats, nothing in my life has changed my views on this topic more than moving to China. Between my wonderful wife and mother-in-law, I’ve learned to become much more conscious about this wasteful behavior. Like many other countries, people here understand that everything has value. Whether it be for environmental reasons or not, all cardboard boxes and plastic bags are habitually saved for future use.
I’m not praising this lifestyle of hoarding objects that could potentially be used again. There’s way too much useable space in my apartment that’s being occupied by these items usually considered trash. But having to share my apartment with my garbage has forced me to come to terms with this problem.
While I know that we’ll never be able to throw it all away in one fell swoop (sorry Marie Kondo), I can, however, squash this habit at the source by not allowing it in my home to begin with. Now we never leave the house without a canvas tote for groceries or a plastic box for leftovers.
I could go on about other ways we are making progress, but the point I’m trying to drive home is that you can start anywhere. For myself, I felt suffocated by the number of plastic bags and cardboard boxes we were accumulating.
Making your life in Beijing more sustainable doesn’t need to be a chore, and there are plenty of examples of people in this issue putting forth the effort to do just that. We hope the ideas presented in this issue inspire you to also take action, whether it be through following our Sustainability Checklist (p56), attempting to maintain a more plant-based diet (p50), or even upcycling instead of buying new (p16).
The concepts presented here aren’t about attacking your current way of life, but rather securing a better future for the people we love. That’s something we can all agree is important!
This article first appeared in the beijingkids March 2019 Sustainability issue
Photos: Yifei Fang