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Embracing a green lifestyle

Published on Friday, 11 Mar 2011
Young ‘Take a Brake Low Carbon Action’ ambassadors promote the green message to drivers, asking them to drive one day less every month.
A panda mascot drives home a green message at the low carbon game booth at the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon Expo.

Human resources (HR) professional Louisa Lee has been practising green living and driving since joining the "Take a Brake Low Carbon Action" programme, initiated last September by her employer, Standard Chartered Hong Kong.

"Since making the pledge to drive less, I started changing my habits," says Lee, the bank's head, HR, GTO (group technology and operations) risk & support, Greater China and Japan.

Not only does she plan her driving trips ahead of the week - last week, she gave up three days of driving - she is also leading a green lifestyle and encouraging her friends to do so. Bringing her own bags to the supermarket, unplugging the computer and switching off the lights when she leaves home are just a few of Lee's routines.

Car owners and organisations taking part in the "Take a Brake" initiative have pledged online to drive at least one day less each month. Non-car owners can also get involved by encouraging others to drive less.

Fern Ngai, head of corporate affairs for Standard Chartered Hong Kong, says the bank is committed to environmental protection. "We need to raise awareness of climate change and cultivate green consciousness and green living habits."

The campaign is sponsored by The Standard Chartered Hong Kong 150th Anniversary Community Foundation, set up in 2009 out of proceeds from the sale of commemorative charity banknotes that were issued to celebrate the bank's 150 years of operations in Hong Kong.

With local environmental groups - Friends of the Earth, Green Power and WWF - Standard Chartered has put in place a host of events and activities to promote care for the environment among the corporate world, members of the public and young people.

A Corporate Green Driving Award Scheme was set up with the aim to reduce car pollutants and private vehicle use among business organisations. Workshops were held for the driving community, covering topics from the idling of cars to how to maintain a vehicle so as to reduce gas consumption.

At the award ceremony in late January, 18 organisations received gold, silver, bronze and merit awards. Among the gold-label recipients were CLP Power, Hong Kong International Airport and Swire Coca-Cola. According to Ngai, about 82,700 employees from the participating corporations were taught green tips, while the organisations together achieved an average increase

of 7.9 per cent in fuel efficiency and an average reduction of 12.5 per cent in fuel consumption.

The activities that target the public, meanwhile, are designed to promote green awareness and involve a spate of advertisements and publicity-raising initiatives on various websites, social networking sites and on the streets. Canto-pop singer Kay Tse On-kei has been appointed as an ambassador of the campaign. More than 4,000 students have also taken on the role of ambassador, spreading the "no car" message among motorists. Other activities, including the slogan and e-card design competitions, have also attracted enthusiastic responses from youngsters.

"It's easier for kids to embrace the idea and engage [others]," Ngai says. "We hope they will inspire adults so that [the latter will] understand the impact of worsening air quality on the future."

The "Take a Brake" campaign continues to invite pledges from the public. For more information, visit www.takeabrake.com.hk.


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