It’s Time for a Recycled Christmas!

By Kelly Chiu

From shopping centers below your building to the mega one-stop paradise found in shopping districts, you could go on an adventure every day looking for an array of Christmas decorations throughout the 2 months leading up to the most wonderful time of the year – Christmas!

As years go by, Christmas has become a holiday season where shopping malls put their creativity to the test. Their efforts to grasp the heart of locals and tourists has been reflected by the variety of decorations we see today. Shopping malls like Lee Tung Avenue, collaborate with foreign malls to bring over the British Christmas spirit. Across the Victoria Harbour, we can see the innovative use of technology to create the largest video kaleidoscope at Harbour City. The festive decorations are limitless in Hong Kong – try to find your personal favorite in the interactive map below.

Map by Amy Hwang

While others actively seek their Christmas spirit at shopping malls, this individual decided to do things differently with recycled art.

Portrait of Agnes Pang

Agnes Pang, an advocate for recycled art, was born and raised in the outskirts of Hong Kong. She witnessed the development of the prosperous city that we all know and love today. When talking about her inspirations, she recalled the days when she couldn’t afford the toys advertised on television, but that didn’t stop her from getting what she wants. “I would gather scraps of cardboard and toilet paper rolls found at home to make my own toys,” said Pang.

It was her creativity that brought joy into her life and for this very reason, she became an advocate for recycled art. In the beginning, she organized workshops for little kids to stimulate their creativity but eventually came to realize that everyone should have the opportunity to create art. So, she founded Agnes Recycles, a brand that organizes workshops for people of all ages and backgrounds, ranging from kindergarten to multinational companies.

“Recycled art is nothing luxurious, it all begins with abandoned materials you could find at home,” said Pang. Below are some of her proudest recycled art creations for the festive season.

Swipe right to find out what kind of Christmas ornaments you can make at home! 

As parties would not be complete without some wine, Pang upcycles your wine corks so they wouldn’t go to waste.

Got some empty red packets from Chinese New Year and forgot to recycle them? No worries cause red is also the color of Christmas!

Have you ever played with the Styrofoam fruit sleeves found in local fruit stands? Well, Pang thought of a even better way to play with them by using a clothing iron!

Localisation of Christmas Celebration

Throughout the six years of promoting recycled art on TV shows, radio programs and media interviews, Pang has gained an extensive public exposure for her work. However, she insists that she continues to conduct workshops for recycled art despite the limited resources and exposure she has for it. “The sense of achievement seen through the recreations of my pupils compensates for the time and efforts used in preparation for the workshops,” said Pang as she explains that her workshop materials come from her friends and families’ unwanted household waste.

From one of her regular workshops at another studio, she shares with us an anecdote where her message came to life. “One day, my student came back from Japan and brought me bottle caps that he had collected throughout the trip. He was thinking that we could create something fun and unique with it.” She was overjoyed by her pupil’s action in believing that anything could be art, and nothing should be put to waste.

Another advocate for recycled products has seen itself producing Eco-friendly Christmas trees since 1980 – Oncor Recycled Trees.

Oncor Trees

From its raw material production to their clients receiving the item, each process is thoughtfully aligned with their responsibility for our planet. Their Christmas trees are not only made of 100% lead-free, recycled PVC plastic but they also have an industry-leading product life of over 30 years.

In response to the artificial trees being non-biodegradable, Benjamin Liu the Director of Oncor Tree Limited has responded with rounded up figures of well-established research studies that an artificial tree with a lifespan of over 6 years offsets the environmental impact made from a living, real pine tree.

So, the question comes down to whether customers would keep their trees for over 6 years to minimize the environmental impact. Liu responded that they stopped selling trees to those low-end clients who opt for one-time use only, leading to a fraction drop in their recent annual sales. As an Eco-friendly business, Liu is dedicated to lengthen the life span of their products instead of exponentially growing their sales rate.

With the rising trend of e-commerce, Liu was happy to interact with the existing users of Oncor trees. “One client reconnected with us saying that his Oncor recycled tree purchased 17 years ago was still in good shape and thanked us for the high-quality product we sell,” said Liu.

2018 has been a turning point for Hongkongers’ environmental awareness. The government has urged the reduction of disposable plastic tableware which makes up 2% of local municipal solid waste and threatens marine organisms. Institutes like The University of Hong Kong has followed through with environmental awareness campaigns by not making disposable plastic bottles and straws available on campus while food operators like Starbucks have taken plastic utensils off their condiment bars. Environmental groups have also introduced reusable metal straws for the public to satisfy their bubble tea-craze.

Wine-bottled Christmas Tree

Now that you could create your own recycled festive ornaments and buy your own recycled Christmas tree – it’s time to discover your own Christmas spirit the Eco-friendly way!

What’s a better time to opt for a recycled Christmas than now? Instead of visiting shopping malls for their Christmas decorations, let your creativity flow at the Zero-Waste Christmas Market organised by Green Queen and other NGOs.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year to recycle!