The double eleven festival is contributing to an environmental crisis and here is how you can reduce, reuse, recycle this year.

The double eleven or singles festival happens every November 11th, first hosted by Aliexpress or Taobao, customers get large discounts such as free shipping and 20-75% off goods.

Every year, the double eleven festival transactions seem to set new records every year, with 860 billion yuan sales in 2020. Yet, these impressive numbers also bring a new record of packaging and trash influx during a short period of time.

Screenshot of the double elven advertisements on the Taobao app.
Credits to Taobao

Asia itself contributes to 50% of all waste produced via online shopping, with China and Hong Kong being the biggest contributors. According to a report published by The Green Earth HK Hong Kongers create 924.1 million packages of trash just through online shopping in the year of 2019. With so much waste being produced, landfills around China are filling up quickly and are finding it difficult to keep up with demand.

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Shipping packages at a fulfilment centre. Credits to Getty Images.

I talked with a user of Aliexpress, 25 year old Mick Barbir, who will participate in the double eleven festival, does most his shopping online. Barbir cites convenience as another driver for his online shopping, “Yes, half of all my shopping is online, its so much more convenient, its usually more easier to buy my items while i remember them on the spot rather than to make a shopping list and travel to buy them.”

When asked about why he use Aliexpress he said that, “Most retailers are just selling the same products from Aliexpress but for an inflated price, so why not cut out the middle man, buy from Aliexpress.”

However, Barbir does think it is difficult to recycle especially for bigger items, “Usually I try to recycle any cardboards or plastics but everything else is usually thrown away.” It is also difficult for users of Aliexpress to refund goods, when asked about the process Barbir said that, “Some of the merchants accepted the refund some didn’t and proceeded sending the item I didn’t need.” With the new shipping, packaging and product wasted.

Cardboard box waste thrown away at HKU campus. Photo credits to
Meghan Chan.

In order to Environmental Protection Agency (ETA) “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is one of the best ways consumers can consciously help the environment with the least amount of impact to daily lives.

First is to reduce, by simply buying less, we could reduce waste in the first place. So think twice before you online shop for unnecessary products.

Recycling poster that shows how to properly recycle items. Credits to the Hong
Kong Environmental Protection Department.

Secondly, reuse. Try to purchase items that could be reused and reduce the waste you produce. So instead of buying items one by one, try purchasing a few items from the same seller or join a consolidated shipping service, so that the carbon footprint from shipping could be lessened and packaging could be reduced.

Finally, recycle. Hong Kong has a lot of different collection points for recycling. You could simply look onto Hong Kong environmental Protection Department’s webpage and seek out collection points to recycle waste responsibly.

Recycling points around Hong Kong Island. Photo credits to Google Maps.

Feature photo credit: Meghan Chan

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