TEDxTinHauWomen are back!! So What Matters Now…

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” – Helen Keller

These words by Helen Keller, humanity’s extraordinary icon, bring a special meaning at a time when the pandemic has brought life to a virtual standstill. Yet a lot has changed in the last one year as our routines got disrupted, forcing us to reformat our existence. 

Keller’s words also resonate well with the event we are planning in December, whose theme incidentally is “What Matters Now.’’ The gathering is set to showcase ideas and prompt us to re-think and re-align.  

If the global health crisis brought despair to many corners of the world, it also made many of us focus on issues that were critical to our overall wellbeing. While health and immunity became priority, mental health is getting the attention it deserves. There is a staggering rise in domestic abuse due to lockdown, many women quitting workforce to support home schooling. On the flip-side working from home not only became necessary but also found acceptance. Our kids got used to attending classes online. Families got closer, communities rallied to help those in need.

“The pandemic deeply impacted everyone. It forced us to re-look at every aspect of our life.  But it also shone a light on compassion, shared experiences and brought us closer. And challenged the creative thinkers, problem solvers, innovators, to go beyond the ordinary,” said Jen Flowers, our Co-Founder and Co-Chair.

So, what now? Where do we go from here? What would the world be post Covid? What will the new normal be?

It’s the time to Pause, Breathe, Reflect, Reset and Re-imagine a better future.   

“We are thrilled to bring back our annual event, especially with such a thought-provoking theme this year. Our Hong Kong community will be inspired by diverse topics from amazing speakers who are passionate about big ideas and making a difference. With some new changes all around, we can’t wait for you to see what we are planning,” added Daniella Lopez, our Co-founder and Co-Chair.

The TEDxTinHauWomen tribe in Hong Kong is  already supercharged about this. The manic frenzy has started! The stage is set. Be sure to join us and be a part of these inspiring talks that will spark stimulating conversations.

So mark your calendar and save the date. Our 2021 countdown will take place in Hong Kong on Friday, December 10, 2021. Half a day of gathering together as a community, celebrating visionary speakers with powerful messages.

We will share more details on the event and how to get tickets soon, so save the date [December 10, 2021], follow our TEDxTinHauWomen InstagramTwitter and Facebook accounts and sign up for the TEDxTinHauWomen email updates.

We have given the oceans a fever. Is improving our climate fitness the cure?

Jessica Broomhall gives herself a climate bootcamp inspired by Jonathan Cybulski’s TEDxTinHau Countdown talk.

Jonathan Cybulski at TEDxTinHau Countdown explains how to build your climate fitness. Photo by Alex Macro.

Climate change and athletics. Two things I most definitely would not have put together… at least that is until Jonathan Cybulski took to the stage for the TEDxTinHau Countdown event and introduced his Climate Fitness training manual. 

Jonathan, a marine ecologist, athlete and fitness coach, believes that we must improve our climate fitness to become part of the solution to climate change.

Jonathan’s training guide to improve our climate fitness includes 4 key steps:

  1. Reshape your mentality – rather than quitting in the face of the climate mountain ahead of us to climb, put one foot in front of the other and start walking” celebrate the small achievements
  2. Reform your climate identity – recognise one conscious action every day for 30 days. Through identifying as a sustainable person, you will find it easier to become more sustainable.
  3. Take actions – align these to your interests and find your tribe. Like the beach? Organize a cleanup. Budding chef? Prepare a vegan or sustainable meal.
  4. Learn to care. Build your personal motivation and trust the process.
Watch Jonathan’s TEDxTinHau Countdown ‘How to build your climate fitness’

Sometimes in the fitness world we need a boost. A kickstart towards our goal. That’s when a bootcamp comes in. In line with the TEDxTinHau Countdown key areas, I committed to making a small change every day for 5 days across each of food, energy, transport, nature, fashion.

So here we go.

Climate fitness bootcamp day 1 – food

Between the office and studying life can be pretty full on. If I haven’t meal prepped for the week on Sunday, it’s likely I’ll resort to take-out for both lunch and dinner. I know this isn’t good for me or the planet, but knowledge doesn’t always equate to action, and sometimes convenience and cravings win out over my better self.

Lunch is usually a quick dart to get a sandwich or (usually) a Deliveroo. Today I make a conscious decision to switch this up. I give my legs a stretch and my brain a break and head over to Mana for a wrap. Food literacy – the subject of Peggy Chan’s talk , is all about understanding the impact of food on your health, the environment, and the economy. By skipping meat and supporting local business this seems like a step in the right direction.

Day 2 – energy

We use energy in almost everything we do, most often unconsciously. Looking around my desk I have my laptop, extra screen, and phone charger all plugged into the grid, lights on, aircon on… you get the picture.

I turn to google to find some tips to improve my energy efficiency and come across the concept of ‘Vampire Energy’. Vampire energy (or phantom load) refers to appliances that remain plugged in even when not in use (i.e. on standby mode), sucking up energy and ramping up your electricity bill.

A quick tour of my apartment that evening confirms I’m feeding the vampire, and I unplug the offending appliances. Easy, right?

Day 3 – transport

I feel pretty lucky in Hong Kong. We have a great public transport network that’s clean, frequent, and cheap. To push this further, my small win for today was to ditch transport all together and to walk into work. I feel good for the walk, and it allowed me to take time for myself and reflect on Ollie Haas’s talk on the future of flying. I love travel. Unlike Ollie however, I do not love flying (genuinely terrified). Nonetheless I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever fully give up. With the prospect of travel bubbles and vaccines on the horizon, I make a commitment to myself to purchase carbon credits if and when I travel in the future. As Ollie said, it’s not the solution, but it’s a continuous trade off.

Jessica has a revamped holiday wardrobe courtesy of her climate bootcamp. Photo courtesy of Jessica Broomhall.

Day 4 – fashion

A basic cotton t-shirt on average takes a whopping 2,700 litres of water to produce, putting huge strain on our freshwater resources. Add to this the impact of pesticides and insecticides, manufacturing, transportation, use, and disposal, and you can see the issues caused by fast fashion consumerism begin to mount up.

Running up to the festive period I need a few outfits to keep it fresh. Luckily, I have a great group of friends and we decide to get together and have a clothes swap x mulled wine evening to revamp our respective wardrobes. I emerge with a bag full of awesome outfits – it’s a resounding success and we’ll definitely be doing this again in the New Year!

Day 5 – nature

Like Jonathan, I have a mild ocean obsession. My own sustainability journey began with a love of scuba diving, and by seeing first-hand the extent of coral bleaching and the mountains of plastic we’ve poured into the ocean.

A Plastic Ocean is a Hong Kong based NGO dedicated to creating ‘a wave of change’ to stop plastic pollution via education and policy advocacy. They created an award-winning documentary that I’ve put off watching because it’s easier to ignore the problem than to acknowledge it and do something about it. Today my action is educational… time to finally watch this.

I’m overwhelmed by the damage we’ve done but also inspired by the team behind the film and the work the NGO does do day-in day-out to encourage people to be part of the solution. We can and must do better to help save our oceans.

Reflections on the bootcamp

It really wasn’t too much effort to change up my choices, but I recognize I still have a long way to go – doing one push-up isn’t going to make me strong. Acknowledging the choices we make is a key step in changing them for the better… and as with any fitness goal the real challenge comes in sticking with it until actions become habit.

I’m up for the challenge – are you?

Design you own climate fitness and #JoinTheCountdown with the Count Us In aggregator. Choose from the 16 steps that will have the most impact at Count-Us-In.org

Jessica Broomhall is currently studying for the Masters of Corporate Environmental Governance at the University of Hong Kong.

Why food matters in the talk about sustainability

Daniella Lopez considers the right ingredients for a sustainable future while watching Peggy Chan’s talk at TEDxTinHau Countdown

In a former life I used to describe myself as a “foodie”. Back in Shanghai I used to plan my days around meals, exploring hole-in-the-walls, street food, free-flow brunches and saving every penny to visit Paul Pairet’s Ultraviolet. I bragged that I didn’t know how to cook and was on first name terms with many chefs and bartenders around town.

Rarely did I pause to think about the ingredients I was consuming or about the waste around me as we over-ordered to try every recommended dish. Yet, sitting down at one of the 2020 TEDxTinHau Countdown live stream events, I found myself entranced by Peggy Chan’s talk which focused not only on what we eat but how we eat.

Peggy Chan shares her recipe for a sustainable future. Photo by Alex Macro.

A plant-based Chef, Peggy spoke to us about “food literacy”, a new and developing term in the food world. A phrase I had never heard before. Food literacy is understanding how food is related to nutrition, biodiversity, and climate change. It also encompasses everything from nutrition to composting to sustainable business management. And also understanding how our food is processed in order to make more sustainable choices. By understanding these connections we can become more informed about our food choices to make healthier decisions for ourselves and our communities. And Peggy firmly believes “food literacy as a subject should be as fundamental as math, science and languages.”

Planet-forward food from MANA! enjoyed as part of TEDxTinHau Countdown. Photo by Danielle Tjia.

Peggy has spent years educating herself about the impact that our food choices have on our physical, social and mental health. Her passion was clearly visible in her TEDx talk and as I looked around everyone was entranced. When MANA! was served at the end of the talks, everyone was acutely aware of how MANA! fits into this food literacy school of thought. Their food is about diet change, not climate change. whole-food, plant-based food, served in an eco-friendly & responsible manner.

So although there  is no easy solution for our health and environmental problems, supporting restaurants with a comparable mantra is a step in the right direction.

Watch Peggy’s TEDxTinHau Countdown talk ‘A chef shares her recipe for a sustainable future’

And what else can you do to be more food literate? According to Peggy, there are things we can do right now to help use food in our own fights for climate change.

  1. Push for legislative changes, such as ending government subsidies of genetically modified corn. This will reduce the amount of junk foods being sold on our supermarket shelves.
  2. Influence government bodies to agree on setting a standard to help manage a sustainable global food system.
  3. Support farmers’ markets
  4. Eat locally grown and locally sourced food as much as possible
  5. Educate yourself on ingredients and how to read food labels 
  6. Include more plant-based meals to your diet

You can make your actions count when you #JoinTheCountdown with the Count Us In aggregator. Commit to eat more plants or eat seasonally at Count-Us-In.org

Daniella Lopez is a Co-Founder and Co-Chair of TEDxTinHauWomen.

Magical fuels and other, more immediately available, ways to travel sustainably

Colleen Galbraith is transported to a world of sustainable aviation while watching Ollie Haas’s TEDxTinHau Countdown talk.

Ollie Haas presents his TEDxTinHau Countdown talk ‘Flying on Magic Fuels’. Photo by Alex Macro.

While Hong Kong’s airport has moved since my first trip to Kai Tak in 1990, Hong Kong’s International Airport is one of the world’s busiest passenger airports. HKIA’s vast new third runway project due to complete in 2024 is on a scale almost equivalent to building a new airport next to the existing one

Ollie explained that if aviation were a country, it would have been the sixth biggest CO2 emitter in 2018. Pre-pandemic travel restrictions, Ollie estimates that 65% of his annual carbon footprint related to air travel and that he made 10-15 round trips by air per year. His strong environmental values clearly conflict with the air travel he and I associate with being a modern global citizen. So, what can be done?

Ollie has a strong belief that we can change climate change in the aviation industry, and here are his ideas worth spreading:

  • Batteries – within the next five years Ollie estimates that battery powered aeroplanes will be able to cover 1000km (the distance from Hong Kong to Taipei or from London to Milan). Solar or wind powered batteries have a lower overall environmental impact than jet fuel. While there are constraints such as the weight of the battery, hybrid models will allow for further distances.
  • Waste to energy – although converting waste into plane fuel will still result in greenhouse gases, the cleaner burning fuel and lower emissions have led some airlines to start using blends with biofuel in their existing aircraft. While switching from fossil fuels completely would be expensive and difficult, it’s not impossible. 
  • Hydrogen – last month, Airbus revealed three concepts for zero-emission commercial aircraft which could be flying passengers by 2035. The concepts rely on hydrogen, the first element in the periodic table and the most abundant in the universe. Hydrogen can power planes if it is burnt or using fuel-cells and the only byproduct is water.]
Watch Ollie’s talk ‘Flying on magic fuels’.

Many of us have cancelled flights over the last year and changing travel restrictions may make rearranging trips challenging for the time being. Ollie has two options for our next trips by air:

  • Fly less – while this doesn’t sound fun, Ollie reasons that many people will have learnt to adapt their travel behaviour during the pandemic and that unnecessary business travel and travelling to the farside of the globe for short holidays will be less common.
  • Carbon off-setting – Even though the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says that there was a 140-fold increase between 2008 and 2018 of passengers offsetting through voluntary programmes, this is just 1% of passengers. While buying carbon off-setting vouchers from your airline (if they offer it) or a third party to reduce CO2 is not a silver bullet, Ollie suggests travellers should be more responsible in managing their own emissions.

As the pandemic has caused many aspects of our lives to “pause”, Ollie’s ideas have prompted me to take time to reflect on my travel habits and to take action on the transport within my control. As Hong Kong’s autumn weather arrives, I have stopped relying on Hong Kong taxis in favour of walking around the city more. I have also been more appreciative of the efficiency of the MTR for longer journeys. I hope it’s not too long before I can see my family in person. Before I board my next flight, I am comparing the airlines with off-setting options and researching third party carbon off-set programmes

Colleen with her family before a childhood flight. Will the magic of future travel be the fuel? Photo courtesy of Colleen Galbraith.

Ollie reasons that although there aren’t immediate solutions to aviation’s sustainability problem, the future of sustainable flying is not a quantum leap. I grew up in an area with roughly the same land mass as Hong Kong but with only 0.8% of Hong Kong’s population. As a child, I could only dream of living somewhere as unique as Hong Kong, from its skyscrapers to its country parks. As Ollie suggests, from the first Wright brothers’ flight 117 years ago, to supersonic Concorde travelling at twice the speed of sound a little over 50 years later, it is only by daring to dream that we can make sustainable air travel and businesses like Rabbit Airlines a reality. 

You can #JoinTheCountdown with the Count Us In aggregator. Commit to fly less, drive electric or walk more at Count-Us-In.org

Colleen Galbraith is a qualified lawyer and is currently studying for the Masters of Corporate Environmental Governance at the University of Hong Kong.

If you think going green is hard… What if it’s about self-interest and living better?

That’s the question Connie Wu asked herself while she listened to Keilem Ng and Lance Lau’s TEDxTinHau Countdown talk.

Keilem Ng and Lance Lau share how they help communities take climate action at TEDxTinHau Countdown. Photo by Alex Macro.

People don’t like changing, even less so when being told to. Keilem and Lance started their talk with a story about people avoiding them on a recent Friday for Futures climate strike in Hong Kong.

Many of us are told that as long as we are alive and well, any disruption to the status quo should be discouraged. But no, we may be alive but are certainly not well. For example, I’m concerned whether the air that I’m inhaling is full of dirt and toxins, and that the water I’m drinking contains numerous plastic pellets undetected by our naked eye. We may have a flash of regret when picking up takeaway and using plastic cutlery, knowing that plastic is piling up in landfills and killing our marine life, and yet very often this guilt is gone in a blink of an eye, and so the vicious cycle never ends.

Yet many of us seem unwilling to close the value-action gap, i.e. our action does not correspond to our value system, in this case environmental sustainability. The term “going green” sounds like a daunting task which requires us to revamp our whole lifestyle, such as throwing away all things disposable, eating no meat, avoiding air-conditioning in summer and going zero-waste. After all, not many of us are as proactive as Keilem and Lance, who are brave enough to take the lead, go to the street to raise awareness of climate action and help others achieve their own green goals.

Going green is acting in self-interest

Adam Smith, the “Father of Economics”, believed that human-beings act in self-interest all the time. Going green can seem difficult, as many of us believe that it is a distant idea and has nothing to do with our own self-interest. Aside from the benefits of contributing to a healthier planet, and as Lance mentioned, making sure that parts of our city don’t  disappear underwater, what if going green can save our hard-earned money?

Have you considered buying a collapsible water bottle for HK$100 which can be used for years, in lieu of bottled water for HK$10 for 10 times? What about spending HK$79 on three washable face masks which last for two months in total, instead of HK$150 on 60 disposable surgical face masks containing degradation-resistant materials? Or the most obvious one, bringing your own bag so you don’t need to spend extra 50 cents when you do grocery shopping every time? Going green doesn’t necessarily mean researching and calculating the carbon footprint of every single purchase, but a bit of awareness and simple arithmetic can also help you make wiser choices.

Connie Wu shows that swapping to a reusable mask can be good for the planet and your wallet.

Going green is focusing on living better

You may think that spending a few extra bucks for convenience is still better (or cooler) than bringing along an additional water bottle or shopping bag each time going out. I used to think that too, until I moved into my current tiny flat. Suddenly buying less is no longer optional but mandatory, otherwise my freezer would be overflowed with pre-packaged microwave food, my wardrobe fast-fashion clothes which degrade after a wash or two, and my cabinet a chaos of plastic bags from times when I forgot to bring my own bag.

This reminds me of a friend of mine, who once said that Marie Kondo’s tidying/organisation method in fact “creates more waste”, as one would have to throw away things which do not “spark joy”. I would rather think of it as a way to focus on living better and buying quality over quantity – fewer items which last longer means fewer purchase decisions to make and less time to spend on tidying up your home at weekends, and instead you have more time and money to spend on things that really matter and “spark joy” in your life, like family, friendship and lifelong goals. Just make sure that anything you decide you no longer need is passed on responsibly, for example by finding it a new home, upcycling or recycling.

We can start with small actions Keilem and Lance mentioned that they keep telling people what should be done even when they are unwilling to listen, and for me this is a very powerful statement. Whilst the science behind climate change is clear, it can be perceived as difficult and inconvenient to make changes to your lifestyle. Our daily lives amongst our communities are where important first steps can be made. “Climate action isn’t something we should leave to the scientists and politicans,” said Keilem, and Lance concluded, “no one is too small to make a difference, and no action is too small to start with.”

Watch Keilem and Lance’s talk ‘The story we’ll tell in 2050’

You can #JoinTheCountdown and take your small step for climate action today, choose your action for 2020 at Count Us In. 

Connie Wu is currently studying for the Masters of Corporate Environmental Governance at the University of Hong Kong.

Why does fruit need clothing?

Tanja Wessels walking and wearing her TEDxTinHau Countdown talk ‘Why I dress like an apple’. Photo by Alex Macro.

Colleen Galbraith reflects on watching Tanja Wessels’s TEDxTinHau Coundown talk.

Why does fruit need clothing? Spoiler alert: it doesn’t, but this is how content creator and environmental advocate, Tanja Wessels, opened her TEDxTinHau Countdown Talk in Hong Kong, part of Countdown, the global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, launched in 2020.

When planning for the event, the first question Tanja asked herself (like most fashion fans) was “what am I going to wear?”. Her striking style evoked Patricia Field’s timeless look for Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City’s finale in 2004, with a conscious 2020 update – the wasteful wrappers that adorn so many apples in Hong Kong supermarkets were carefully collected and upcycled to create her tulle effect skirt.

Tanja is celebrating four years of not buying any new clothes. This may not seem like much if you aren’t into fashion, but Tanja walks, talks and wears sustainable fashion with passion. What started out as a one year experiment after a period of eco-anxiety, led her to change her relationship with an industry whose products mostly end up in a landfill

The fashion industry accounts for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions and around 20% of wastewater, inspiring Tanja to share her three ideas to change perceptions of fashion and help us all respect the planet. 

One: shopping for fast fashion can’t fix us.

Feeling the need to belong, combined with the availability of cheap clothing, leads us to buying clothes unnecessarily. This resonated with me, thinking of my wardrobe full of unworn clothes after ten months of COVID-19 social restrictions in Hong Kong. Tanja talked honestly of the links between our addiction to fast fashion and the mental lows which follow the ever-shortening highs of a new purchase. Tanja spoke of the fear of rejection, vulnerability and shame associated with needing to keep up in the conventional fashion game. After four years of no buying, she reasoned that she cannot lose a game she no longer plays, as her experience has made her feel more powerful in her clothing choices.

Two: if we stopped using plastic straws, why are we still wearing plastic clothes?

While it is obvious there is plastic in Tanja’s upcycled skirt, many of us don’t realise how much plastic there is in the clothes we wear. With the increasing popularity of athleisure during the pandemic for namaste and Netflix binges, the sector is set to grow 7% in the next three years. Most items of sportswear contain plastic (polyester, acrylic or nylon) because it is lightweight and cheap. But every time they’re washed, microplastics are released into the water system, polluting the planet’s water. There are around 700 marine organisms that consume microplastics and I didn’t feel very zen as Tanja reminded us that the plastic from our socks ends up in the sushi we eat.

If we stopped using plastic straws, why are we still wearing plastic clothes? Photo by Karina Tess on Unsplash
Three: second-hand needs a rebrand.

As someone who has been known to store a new-for-me vintage bag overnight in the freezer to freshen the leather, I was not surprised to hear that Tanja has been asked by fast fashion fans whether she ever thought that shopping for second-hand clothes was “dirty”. We know that fast fashion is dirtier. Growing conventional cotton relies on pesticides and these chemicals make their way into the fibres of our clothing, before being absorbed into our skin. In the next stage of the lifecycle of your crisp white t-shirt, that “just off the rack” feeling may be down to a toxic finish of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Buying second-hand clothing decreases the amount of chemicals you’re likely to come into contact with and saves the clothes from landfill, while balancing the use of water and energy expended in creating them. 

Tanja left us with three other creative ideas for change:

  1. Don’t forget about your accessories – consider switching from mass produced leather made with pollutants to planet-friendly alternatives;
  2. Slow down and embrace the repair culture for your clothes. Nothing is ever truly broken in the Japanese art of Kintsugi, where damaged pieces are repaired with gold to enhance their beauty; and
  3. Finally, ideas begin with us, and each of us has the power to develop more creative and meaningful relationships with the clothes we wear and the materials we use.

The latest looks can be found away from the chain stores of Causeway Bay. We can all be inspired by Tanja and the ways fashion is changing in our home of Hong Kong, from pre-loved luxury at HULA to restyling with Redress. Whether you are organising clothes swaps with friends, working with one of Tsim Sha Tsui’s traditional tailors for style crafted to last or supporting a small local business like Beam Bold’s adjustable pieces in natural fabrics, I know I’d choose planet-friendly over fast fashion any season.

Watch Tanja’s talk ‘Why I dress like an apple’.

You can #JoinTheCountdown and make your actions count with the Count Us In aggregator. Commit to buy fewer new clothes and wear them for longer at Count-Us-In.org


Colleen Galbraith is a qualified lawyer and is currently studying for the Masters of Corporate Environmental Governance at the University of Hong Kong.

A story of five talks

Our speakers and support team take the TEDx tradition of ‘ideas worth spreading’ very seriously, what you see on stage is the product of hundreds of hours of preparation. Here’s the story of the five TEDxTinHau Countdown talks…

On Saturday October 17th the TEDxTinHau Countdown speakers presented five talks, sharing their ideas on how to build a better, greener, healthier Hong Kong.

The talks were insightful, inspiring and thought-provoking. They were also the result of hundreds of  hours of work by the speakers and the TEDxTinHau coaches, buddies and curation team.

It was back in August when our speakers were selected for TEDxTinHau Countdown and the preparations began. Each speaker had a team that worked with them to bring shape and structure to their ideas and present them in ways that would resonate with the audience. “There was so many things that I wanted to share and so many things I wanted to talk about,” recalled sustainable food systems chef-consultant Peggy Chan at one rehearsal, “and the coaches really helped guide us in the right direction so that the audience can absorb it better.”

Peggy Chan rehearses with her coach Karen Koh (far left) and speaker buddy Marina Huynh. Photo by Alex Macro.

Historical and marine ecologist Jonathan Cybulski added, When I was nominated, I was pitched as a scientist, which I am, but working through my ideas with the team, I was really happy to have a chance to bring this alternative angle, the fitness angle. This talk allowed me to hone into who I am and it makes it feel really personal in what I am able to contribute to climate solutions, which I think is what everyone wants to do – contribute in their own way.”

“I’ve done public speaking in the past, but I’ve never had a team supporting me telling me what parts of my scripts suck and what parts are great. It’s an eye-opening experience,” said writer, content-creator and artist Tanja Wessels, “Here is a really well-crafted, well thought-out procedure, and consequently, as a speaker, it’s very exciting.”

Tanja Wessels rehearses with her speaker buddy, Megan Leckie. Photo by Alex Macro.
Tanja Wessel’s Why I dress like an apple. Illustration by Inkagrm.

A new part of the support team this year was Chan Wai, aka Inkagrm, whose illustrations were projected on screen after each of the talks providing a powerful reminder of the key points that the speakers have made.  

“My illustrations are graphic recordings. I am always aware that what I do is not about art but about visual communication, memory retention and a good start to discussions and dialogue,” said Inkagrm.

“This was my first time working with a TEDx event while the speeches were being developed and it was super interesting. Not only because the speakers talked about so many things that I was not aware of –  like microplastics, electric planes, and an 11-year old climate activist in Hong Kong –  but particularly because I had the privilege to watch the voice and body coaches go through the talks with the speakers. I learned so much and it was so good to see behind the scenes – it was an awesome experience!”

“It really does take a village,” said Ollie Haas, designer and engineer, “at every step of the process people have been there helping the speakers perfect our talks and get them to a point where they really are ideas worth spreading. The amazing illustrations from Inkagrm are fabulous reminders of our ideas and will encourage people to share the TEDxTinHau Countdown ideas even further.”

Ollie Haas’s Flying on magic fuels. Illustration by Inkagrm.
Jonathan Cybulski’s How to build you climate fitness. Illustration by Inkagrm.

“There is a magic that happens in this process every time we do it,” says Treena Nairne, Head of Curation for TEDxTinHau Countdown, “We start in a certain place, when we first meet, and everyone comes with their idea. The final speeches may not be what the speakers envisaged; they might not have had any idea where it would end up. And none of the support team ever does either. But we trust the process. It is magic. And I love it every year.”

Treena Nairne, Head of Curation for TEDxTinHau Countdown checks in with the speakers during preparation for the live event. Photo by Alex Macro.

Ultimately, everyone at TEDxTinHau Countdown hopes that you enjoyed the talks and are inspired to #JoinTheCountdown and take climate action.

“What is different about this TEDx is the focus on action,” said community environmental advocate, Keilem Ng, “I would like to see more action from this community beyond the day of the event.” Youth climate activist Lance Lau agrees, “We need more action in general and we need to keep spreading the message. I hope that we have planted the seed of climate action in people’s minds and that they water it.”

Bobsy Gaia leads a meditation at MANA! before TEDxTinHau Countdown talks. Photo by TEDxTinHauWomen.
Keilem Ng & Lance Lau’s The story we’ll tell in 2050. Illustration by Inkagrm.

So, what are you waiting for?  #JoinTheCountdown by making a pledge on the Count Us In website.

TEDxTinHau Countdown Highlights

TEDxTinHau Countdown would like to thank everyone who joined in taking action to help climate change on October 17th 2020. We’re still buzzing from the excitement and positive energy from our TEDxTinHau Countdown event this past weekend. Across Hong Kong, people tuned in from their homes and from our sponsored venues (many thanks to WeWork, Banyan and Explorium) to watch six of our brilliant speakers share their ideas on sustainability. 

We are still in awe to see the support from the entire community to come together to participate in full day of sustainability-driven activities and talks. Starting with morning beach clean ups, getting creative –– from upcycling and diy workshops, to vegan cooking classes and supporting local restaurant’s planet friendly lunches.

Countdown is TED’s global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action. The goal to build a better future by cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 in the race to a zero-carbon world – a world that is safer, cleaner and fairer for everyone. On 10.10.2020, Countdown launched globally with a virtual event and over 600 TEDx Countdown events around the world. (watch the Countdown online here).

Here are some of our key takeaways for the day:
We kicked off with Ollie Haas –– inspired by his love for aviation and remaining positive about the industry’s sustainable future. Today we can buy carbon offsets and aim to fly less. In the future, perhaps we will fly on battery powered planes that emit close to zero emissions. We indeed have a long way to go, but we mustn’t give up on making our dreams a reality.

Image: Alex Macro

Lance Lau, Hong Kong’s youth climate activist, has been on a climate strike for 57 weeks. At the young age of 11, he captivated the audience with his sheer courage to take rejection and stand up for what he believes in. Accompanied by Keilem Ng, founder of NGO EcoMarine, focused towards raising awareness of local marine issues like beach and underwater cleanups. She has generously and kindly extended her hand to guide him, and take small yet important steps forward together. Keilem sees herself as a starter (a bit like a sourdough starter), who helps others kick-start their ideas to help our climate. This humble, down-to-earth duo inspired us to see that making a difference is also about helping one another so that together, we can make a bigger impact.

Image: Alex Macro

Tanja Wessels took the stage with her beautifully crafted skirt made of fruit packaging. The fashion industry has massively sped up plastic production and waste, and 35% of microplastics in our oceans comes from synthetic textiles. Tanja shared ideas on sustainable materials such as cactus leather replacing cow hide. How can we imagine a better relationship with materials? How can we take what’s normally perceived as “trash” and turn them into treasure?

Image: Alex Macro

Peggy Chan of plant-based restaurants Grassroots Pantry and Nectar called out for the need for fundamental reform in food education. 37% of global greenhouse gas comes from the food industry. At the same time, people are dining out more. Globally, Chef Activists are taking matters in their own hands, one example being Jamie Oilver’s mission to halve childhood obesity in the UK by 2030. What more could leaders in this industry do to guide the next generation of chefs to cook more responsibly and source more sustainably?

Image: Alex Macro

Historical and marine ecologist Jonathan Cybulski poses the question : “Why aren’t we taking enough action yet?”. The problem is, we don’t understand what a healthy climate can achieve and how it can save lives. But we can do it. We just have to start. “Big goals are built by small wins. When we start to think like that, when we build our climate fitness’ mentality, then we’ll be in a position to create long-term climate wins.” By identifying one goal, breaking it down into actionable steps, we too can start on our personal journey to help change climate change.

Image: Alex Macro

Thank you to our speakers, who have shown us that making a change starts with just one decision. It doesn’t have to be complicated. There are so many ways we can all contribute before it’s too late. From rethinking materials, to organising a local beach clean-up, to taking action to visit your local farmer’s market instead of the neighbourhood supermarket. What decision will you make today to change climate change?

We’re in! Are you? 

What if we told you that we have the power to protect what we love from the impacts of climate change?

Whatever it is that you love ❤️, Count Us In has made it easy for you to have a real impact on climate change. With 16 steps, you can choose what works for you and track your progress alongside the rest of us on their platform.

Check out @countusinsocial to take a step and join us!

#countusin

Thank you

Together we can change climate change

#JoinTheCountdown #CountdownHK

Watch this space for more information about TEDxTinHau Countdown. For more behind the scene fun, follow us on Facebook @TEDxTinHau Countdown | Instagram @TEDxTinHauWomen | Twitter @TEDxTinHau

The TEDxTinHau Countdown Team’s checklist for attending events sustainably

TEDxTinHau Countdown is hosting events throughout Hong Kong on Saturday October 17th. Our community workshops, planet-friendly lunches and inspiring TEDxTinHau Countdown Talks take place a mix of online and in-person event. Find out what is happening and how you can book at TEDxTinHauWomen/JoinTheCountdown.

If you’re heading to an in-person event, a little planning can be a positive climate action. The following list is the TEDxTinHau Countdown Team’s essentials for attending any event sustainably. 

Make sure that you have:

  • Your confirmation email/digital ticket on your phone
  • Reuseable water bottle/coffee cup
  • Upcycled or unbleached cotton spare bag
  • Reuseable cutlery
  • Reusable face mask
  • Refilled hand sanitiser (and a temperature check before leaving home)
  • Octopus card to travel by public transport
  • Virtual business card and QR code to LinkedIn ready to share
  • Fully charged phone to take notes and photos and spread the word on social media (using #JoinTheCountdown #CountdownHK)
  • Healthy appetite – drink/eat everything or bring a container, ensuring you don’t leave food waste behind!

Got more tips and ideas? Share them with us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and LinkedIn using #JoinTheCountdown #CountdownHK.

We’re not paused, we’re poised on a springboard: diving into the exciting intersection of innovation & sustainability

by Victoria Gilbert, TEDxTinHau Countdown co-lead

It may seem that the world has spent a lot of time standing still this year. That we have been on a collective pause.

As factories suspended production, and transportation of people and goods was reduced to a bare minimum, there were noticeable, and much reported, changes in the natural world. While some stories were revealed to be flights of fantasy (dolphins in Venice – really?), others were grounded in real science.

Sadly, but predictably, these results were all too temporary with carbon emissions and air pollution heading back in a direction that is unhealthy for people and planet. We saw clear evidence of this in Hong Kong as health risks due to air pollution hit the highest level on the city’s scale at the beginning of September.

Yet, the beautiful blue skies that Hong Kong and much of the rest of the world enjoyed over the summer months show what can be achieved. They also serve as a sombre reminder of the scale of change that is required from us if we are to make the difference we need to.

So how do we bring about the change we need to make? Where do those ideas start?

For me, that is the power of TED, and its mission to share “ideas worth spreading.” Since the first TEDx event I attended in Shanghai in 2014, I was gripped by the dedication of the volunteer committees to find, coach and support amazing people to tell their stories in a way that is deeply personal and also sparks a connection with their audience. Sometimes that spark is so vivid you can almost see it in the air, and from that spark, comes a new way of thinking or doing.

New ideas, thoughts, and better solutions – what we know as ‘innovation’ – are at the heart of sustainability efforts. In many ways, sustainability is innovation. Sustainability is always forward-thinking, identifying what we really want, what we need to achieve, and asking how can we do that better? And cleaner? And fairer – for both people and planet.

A couple of my favourite examples of the intersection of sustainability and innovation are right here in Hong Kong.

  • This summer, a research team at the University of Hong Kong created and planted the world’s first 3D-printed terracotta “reef tiles” to help restore eroding coral communities on Hong Kong seabeds.
  • Asia is set to be home to 5 billion people by 2050, and its alternative protein industry is expanding rapidly to feed the increased population with a much-reduced carbon footprint too. New research by Green Queen Media identifies Asia as the alternative-protein industry’s fastest growing region in the world, with vegan and vegetarian product launches in Southeast Asia increasing 440% since 2016.
  • The rapid expansion of electric vehicles in Hong Kong from 100 in 2010 to over 15,300 by summer 2020 helps in the battle against roadside emissions and pollution. It has been encouraged by generous tax incentives on car registration and charging points and complemented by trials for electric light buses and ferries.

These ideas are important. This year, August 22nd marked Earth Overshoot Day – the day when humanity’s use of the planet’s resources exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We know our consumption behaviours have to change; we know we need to invest in regeneration; and we know there are solutions out there. 

TEDxTinHau Countdown could not have come at a more pivotal moment. Though unsettling, the world has had a glimpse of what can be done when people work together across seas and borders, when they identify and focus action on an idea that has benefit to all.  As Einstein wrote: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” In 2020 we are not paused, we’re poised and ready to jump into a better world, where sustainability and innovation are hand in hand. We have an amazing day planned for Saturday October 17th and whether you join a community activity, a planet-friendly lunch or join us to listen to our incredible speakers please do #JoinTheCountdown #CountdownHK. I look forward to seeing you there.