How a ‘green living’ Hong Kong family survives on HK$8,000 monthly
Originally published at the South China Morning Post on November 5, 2016.
Environmentalist Mok Ho-kwong and his wife spend their days in a small, rural house tucked between Fanling and Kam Tin. They tend their farmland, where they grow their own vegetables.
They cook their dinners using abandoned wood from garbage, and wash their hair with tea seed powder. They wash their clothes with baking soda in a nearby stream. They haven’t used toilet paper in over a decade, choosing instead to use water for cleansing.
Called “Ye Yan” in Cantonese – which translates to “Wild Man” – by those who know him, 34-year-old Mok is an environmentalist who has embraced what he refers to as “green living” for almost a decade. Mok, his wife and their six-month-old baby strive to live their lives in the most sustainable way possible by reducing their energy usage and waste. The house is sparse, with only a computer, a fridge, and some lights.
“Consumption does not mean happiness. Happiness actually comes from everywhere, and is not related to money or property,” says Mok, who works as a nature educator and activity instructor for self-launched social enterprise Natural Network, which promotes nature.
“We don’t need much money to live this way. We spend less than HK$8,000 per month. We’re definitely happier,” adds Mok.
He was introduced to the concept by a teacher during his university years. Although he was always interested in environmental protection, the teacher inspired him to go beyond recycling and really embrace a more subsistent way of living in order to minimise his environmental impact.
Although he recognises that his lifestyle may seem extreme, there are many other ways people can live more sustainably, Mok says. He suggests buying second-hand, local or handmade products from small shops rather than chains. Mok also recommends bringing your own containers to the market when purchasing food, or your own bags to cut down on using new ones.
“I would like to show other people that such a lifestyle is happy and enjoyable, and one they are able to follow,” Mok said.
“I encourage more people to live with less dependence on money, and to start a ‘green living’ lifestyle to save our environment.”