5 Sustainable Swaps For A Luxury Lifestyle That Don't Damage The Environment
1/5 Helicopter → Paragliding
As Hong Kong’s skies become cluttered with aircraft and airborne sightseeing tours become more common, showing guests around via helicopter no longer has quite the shine it used to. Unless you can charter your own craft and negotiate a route away from the traffic, seeing Hong Kong from the windows of a rotored vehicle seems rather, well...basic.
For a truly breathtaking experience that’s zero-carbon to boot, go paragliding. This niche sport makes the most of the city’s vertiginous landscape, giving a tranquil bird’s eye view of a rarely seen side of the skyline. You’ll spend the day hiking to one of 10 official paragliding zones—such as Lantau in the west, Ma On Shan in the east or Shek O in the south. Strapped to a pro you’ll step off the mountain and into the clouds. See Hong Kong Paragliding Association for more details.
See also: 25 Ways To Go Green In Hong Kong
2/5 Pet Tiger → Guard Llama
Before you invest in some ostentatious exotic pet like a tiger, python, giant Tibetan mastiff or chimpanzee, stop to think about the creature’s eco credentials. Predators need meat to live and rare creatures drive the unethical exotic animal trade, which threatens protected species worldwide (and may be a factor in triggering global pandemics). The answer is both inherently green and on-trend: a llama.
Unusual enough to satisfy the need to mark yourself out as an individual, while ticking all the right boxes when it comes to sustainability, llamas are not only vegan but are also fiercely loyal to those they trust, making them excellent guard animals. You’ll need special permission from the government to have one in Hong Kong—and this fuzzy beast will definitely need green space—but it’ll be a guaranteed talking point at your next garden soiree.
3/5 Proposing via Plane → Proposing via Projection
Remember Victor Tang, the guy who dropped HK$400,000 on a lavish proposal to his girlfriend in 2015, involving not only a night’s stay at the Ritz-Carlton and a 1.5-carat diamond engagement ring but also a message of love written in the sky? Skywriting using smoke, aerial banners or fireworks certainly has the ‘wow’ factor, but just think of the carbon emissions.
Instead, affluent inamoratos have begun commandeering iconic skyscrapers like Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, using the buildings’ LED lights. Sure, you could write it in the sand at the beach or have a pastry chef ice it onto a dessert, but using a landmark ensures that the engagement remains a grand gesture. In Hong Kong, there isn’t exactly a formalised process to arranging a tower takeover, but drop the folks at ICCLightshow a line. Maybe they’d be open to more unusual proposals.
4/5 Rare Wood Furniture → Adopt a Hectare of Forest
When outfitting a new apartment, the temptation is to deck the place out in as many luxurious materials as possible. Spare a thought for all the exotic trees that are being felled for your mahogany coat stands or balau decking and do a little giving rather than taking by adopting a nature reserve—one hectare at a time.
Reachable only by boat or seaplane, Tui Nature Reserve in New Zealand is helping to protect the delicate forests, wildlife and ecosystems in the south island’s outer Pelorus Sound. Sponsors are eligible for guided tours of the reserve to see the wilderness and wildlife their investment is protecting as well as access to eco-cabins and boat cruises—meaning your next sustainable retreat is sorted, too. Or there’s Planting Peace if you’d rather funnel donations to tree-planting projects in the Amazon. We hear all the billionaires are into it.
5/5 Serve Steak → Serve Bugs
These days when it comes to steak, you might as well serve up a garnished slice of the Amazon rainforest dripping with crude oil. With red meat being environmentally problematic, to say the least, little will trumpet your adventurousness while shining your eco-friendly halo more than eating what has been described as the future of food: bugs.
Once reserved for stunt reality TV shows and toddlers wandering unchecked, eating insects on purpose is now hailed as an antidote to the ecological destruction caused by industrial farming—and insects are packed with protein and minerals.
Upscale restaurants are beginning to catch on, too: Rene Redzepi served queen ant egg tostada at his Noma pop-up in Mexico, swanky London eatery Archipelago serves salads and desserts made with worms and locusts, and hip New York hangout The Black Ant seasons several dishes and cocktails with its famous black ant salt. In Thailand, which has a long history of breeding bugs for food, Insects in the Backyard chef Surasit Buttama infuses his tasting menu with grasshoppers and caterpillars and believes bugs are the next big thing.
“In the future, the population will increase and there won’t be enough protein sources,” he says. “For insect farming, we need less space, use less water and less feed. [It] will help a lot if we start to wake up.” Put in a request to your personal chef. You can find insect-based snacks at grazingfoods.com.
See also: Beyond Biodynamics: 6 Sustainable Wine Brands To Try