In October 1992, I answered an ad in the @scmpnews for a half-time PR Lady and landed my second HK job.
It came after working 3 months at Laykin Communications, where I got the best introduction to Hong Kong media.
My mission at The Jimmy’s Group was to convert a storage room into my office and create their first in-house marketing department. There were 7 restaurants and we opened 3 more, including La Trattoria in the Landmark and Jimmy’s Sports Bar at the newly opened Hong Kong Stadium.
Fast forward to 2003, when I personally delivered copies of the first edition of Natural Hong Kong – the heartbeat directory for free distribution, and I was welcomed like it was old home week, though I had not set foot inside the restaurant since 1994.
I popped down for a quick swim at lunch today and the ocean invited me to lend her a hand by giving me a little (I mean tiny) plastic bag while I was in the water so I said thanks by filling it up with little bits and bringing it home.
The task took less than 10 minutes. It was the least I could offer to her as an easy exchange for a wonderful, much-needed, long-overdue, refreshing break.
The entire time, I kept thinking about 1 turtle or 1 sea bird or 1 little fish or 1 giant whale I could serve with each little piece I collected, recalling the tears streaming down my cheeks as I watched the images in A Plastic Ocean, last night — not fear, but love.
Fishing for trash
Since my arrival here in 90’s, I have never taken a bag with me and I have been quietly cleaning Hong Kong beaches on my own. Every time I took a beach break, I would pick up a plastic bag and fill it as I walked along the shore. People would join me. Others would offer me fresh fruit from their picnic baskets.
A few years ago I had stopped when the plastic bag levy meant no more plastic bags on the sand. The volume washing up on shore after spring rains hurt my heart so much I all but stopped going to the beach.
Today, as I fished for these tiny bits of plastic, I realized I had reached a point where my big picture thinking had me dismissing these small acts of kindness as rather pointless.
“From knowing comes caring. From caring comes change.” Craig Leeson
It is clear from the opening moments that this moving film is a real life love story about our oceans from a team who is clearly in love with their work and that plastic is not the enemy. Plastic is oil in another form and our landfills are bursting with this untapped resource. Durable plastics are one of our greatest inventions. Single use disposable plastics have become an addiction and it is time for an intervention.
BYOB – bottle, bag, bowl … and whatever else you can think of.
Be the change.
Update: 20 May 2018
Today’s catch – I had help from my new friend, Craig. He’s 9. Same name, different Craig. We had fun fishing together. And I got some good fresh air and exercise. Imagine the wildlife that won’t mistake these bits for food. As long as the sea continues to offer me plastic bags, I will accept her invitation to fill them.
UPDATE: 21 May 2018
Plastic fishing box and a “Clean Bag”
Just when I thought there would be no bags today, I looked out and saw a polystyrene box floating in on the horizon. I waited patiently while it drifted in on the waves until it was close enough to grab and fill … and that’s when the bags showed up. I snagged a lovely, durable blue bag and a couple of big shopping bags and stashed them in my secret, shady spot for future use. I’m not exactly sure what is meant by a “Clean Bag” or how it relates to “Clean Heart & Nature” but it was printed on one of the bags I fished it from the sea today.