Neighbours, high school friends and University flatmates Bertha Shum and Ching Ching Cheung started blogging about sustainable alternatives in early 2018, to initiate a conversation on sustainable living.
“We personally started changing our lifestyle towards being less wasteful after reading more about it. So we wanted to write a blog about our experience of personally switching to eco-friendly products and our honest opinions about them,” Shum says.
Shum and Cheung discovered a dearth of Hong Kong-specific information online about eco-changes or sustainable living, so they took it upon themselves to make that information available, and started sustainable lifestyle blog Earthero.
Since then, the project has expanded into a weekly newsletter in collaboration with European eco-blogger Eco-nnect, a strategic sustainable business initiative Earthero Project Creative Solutions, and an Instagram blog that promotes habit-oriented sustainable lifestyle changes.
The founders believe that the first step is to change mindsets around sustainability, and the idea that it is hard to achieve. That is why Earthero generates content that educates its audience on switching to sustainability (for instance, through news on the environment, product reviews or interviews).
“We do not want to force a lifestyle. Through our interviews we often ask how they started and what their struggles are. We want to show that we can all start somewhere,” Shum says.
Businesses are another avenue for change. Shum points out that companies are currently operating at an unsustainable rate, and will need to switch to responsible business practices to sustain themselves in the future.
Today, the idea of a sustainable business has expanded beyond climate change. While it rightfully asserts that businesses are answerable for their environmental impact, it also includes responsible governance practices and social accountability in its gamut.
“The problem now is that people still think climate change and environmental problems are far away from us. It is much closer to us than we thought. If we continue to operate the way we do, by 2030 we need two Earths to support human needs!” Shum says.
The sustainable conscience that was evoked by climate change in the early 1990s has been reiterated by the devastating impact of the recent Covid-19 outbreak. Sustainability will redefine the idea of ‘business-as-usual’, and businesses that do not start now will be “too late in the game,” Shum points out. She adds that demand for sustainable business practices has grown both from the consumer side and from employees.
“Customers are increasingly being educated about products and services that are responsible for our planet and prefer them. Employees are looking to work for companies that are ‘making a difference’. That is why sustainability is essential for businesses – to capture market demand and retain talent,” Shum continues.
Companies can start by examining their strategy and identifying sustainability priorities, or the lack thereof. Setting internal goals and implementing small changes are a great way to kickstart the sustainable initiatives within the company, Shum notes.
Products mostly move from factory to consumer to landfill, generating waste in huge numbers. A larger change, Shum recommends, is to incorporate a closed-loop system in the lifecycle of their products.
“A closed-loop system is to feed the “rubbish” back into the supply chain and create no waste. This requires entrepreneurs to study their supply chain and innovate on both the process and materials. No doubt this is a long process but by doing so it will eventually save the costs on raw materials,” Shum says.
Ultimately, Earthero’s goal is to demonstrate that sustainable alternatives are not difficult to put into effect. Not only is this tactically relevant for businesses, and healthier for lifestyles, but it also makes responsibility a much-needed systemic effort.
“There are simply too many things going on around the world and we want to share as much as we can on the ones that we find relevant, and most importantly that people should be aware of,” Shum says.
She adds that Earthero hopes to “help as many people as we can in changing their habits. More importantly, we hope to change people’s mindset of thinking that being sustainable is extra work, or not worth it.”
Header image courtesy of Earthero