Budget and power usage are always top of our minds around Crossroads Village. It’s not just because as a charity it’s important to keep our costs low. It’s also because we care that the people we serve in poor communities are the ones suffering most from pollution, environmental degradation and climate change.

Enter Coolnomix, a group that specialises in energy optimisation solutions. In 2017, Coolnomix provided 25 aircon control units for installation in Crossroads’ most heavily used offices, at a generous discount. In the peak months of summer, around 52% of Crossroads’ power costs are incurred by air conditioning. This is in part to keep our volunteers comfortable and in part to protect donated product from mould or other humidity challenges. Coolnomix estimates that their units can save 40% on our air conditioning power usage. Matt Gow, Crossroads’ Director of Strategy, says, “When we can save on our power budget, it means that funding can be invested into what we do best: helping people in need.” Better for our budget; better for the planet; better for those we serve. Now, that’s cool!

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“I used to say that, as an engineer, I was trained to solve problems. That is true, but, more significantly, I was trained to define problems so that we ensure we address the right thing. This is never more complex than when addressing poverty and the environment: each both cause and effect of one another. Poverty, for example, sees a farmer deprived of education which may result in land degradation and, thus, inadequate crop yield, deepening his poverty.” Nigel Langdon, who leads the strategy for our Environment Department, expresses it well. The vicious cycle plays out across the complex landscape of need we serve.

At Crossroads we try to target a range of strategies locally and globally that advocate for environmental sustainability. Here on our own property, we try ourselves to walk the talk, from the plates we use at lunch, to energy-efficient air conditioners in our buildings, to the 33,585 kg of materials we recycled in 2015-16.


 

IMG_2489Nikki wasn’t always an environmental hero. Her story started when she was a young mother with babies and a growing collection of baby gear her little one had outgrown. “I needed space at home!” she says, and knew there must be many families in the same boat. Meanwhile, Nikki saw with sadness the mountains of discarded furniture, including designer chairs and working refrigerators, in estate dumping areas. She knew how much they could help people in need in her own city, and the damage that landfill was doing to the environment.

She swung into action. She began collecting goods from households around her neighbourhood and distributing them to NGOs and needy families in Hong Kong. It wasn’t long before demand for her services snowballed, and she knew it was time to register as an offficial charity. Nikki’s NGO ‘DB Mothers and Friends’ has now grown from a tiny neighbourhood pick-up service on Saturdays to a Hong Kong-wide social enterprise that employs people in need of a job to drive on pickups every day.

Happily, she found us! We have been in partnership with DB Mothers and Friends since 2014 and have grown so close that they now give us 99% of the goods they collect: 1-2 trucks’ worth of goods of amazing quality each day! Nikki herself is unstoppable. “It’s more than a full-time job,” she says. The days can start at 6 am and end as late as 10 pm, but to Nikki (pictured), it’s worth it. In this city, where >3.5 million tons goes to landfill each year, the need for what she does is greater than ever.

They say that not all heroes wear capes! It’s people like Nikki who convince us that heroes walk amongst us, helping Hong Kong fight for a fairer and more sustainable future.

Donate goods through DB Mothers and Friends by joining their Facebook page!

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

2015 – 2016 statistics
Environment

We recycled..
Environment2

Dee Dee - Goods Donor

Dee Dee, a Hong Kong native, knows the challenges her city faces with space and waste. “Hong Kong needs better awareness of where all our trash builds up,” she says. “We all tend to throw it away and move on. We need to change this disposable mindset.” Dee Dee and her husband Harry love using Crossroads as a solution. They’ve donated household items like computers and furniture many times, using our online platforms, and it’s thanks to donors like them, that we receive so many high quality goods to share with people in need in Hong Kong and around the world!

Hong Kong Horticultural Association

Since 2010, the Hong Kong Horticultural Association has partnered with Crossroads, using our leafy site for arboreal training exercises and activities, and providing pro bono services trimming dangerous branches or felling old trees for safety. It’s a very ‘green’ win-win partnership!

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WEEE electronic wasteland

Agbobloshie, Ghana. Photo: Fairphone

They call them “electronic graveyards”: vast dumping grounds in developing nations, where millions of tonnes of discarded computers and appliances from other parts of the world are sent to find a final, toxic resting place. It often costs less to dump the goods overseas than recycle them properly, so things like broken televisions, computers and keyboards are shipped to countries like Ghana (above), where people in poverty sift through them for parts to sell. It’s poisonous not only to local waterways and soil, but also to the people who are trying to make a living from dealing with the electronic waste, and those in the neighbourhood affected by toxic fumes from burn-off. 

WEEE go green stafff

St James’ Settlement’s WEEE Go Green project takes broken appliances and electronic goods from Crossroads, and repairs or recycles them.

We’re acutely aware at Crossroads that when the planet suffers, its people suffer too, and it’s the poor who are left the most vulnerable to environmental change. Each year, we’re donated thousands of electronic and electrical goods, which we gratefully redistribute to people in need. Sometimes, though, donated appliances and computers are broken or missing parts and need to be disposed of. When that happens, we want to manage the disposal process in a way that causes the least harm to the environment.

“WEEE Go Green has recycled or repaired 38,443kg of Crossroads’ electronic and electrical waste.”

Enter St James’ Settlement and their ‘WEEE Go Green’ project! For more than seven years we have partnered on the project, which offers a neat solution to the problem of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in Hong Kong. Their workshop in Tuen Mun takes discarded WEEE from around the city and then trains and employs disadvantaged people from the community to process the goods. Whatever can be fixed is repaired and donated to the elderly and other needy groups and whatever can’t be fixed is stripped and recycled efficiently. Crossroads’ partnership on the project has been an investment not only in the lives of those employed, who have been given new skills and opportunities, but in the health of our planet and the people who suffer because of environmental damage.

The project trains and employs disadvantaged people from the Hong Kong community to process, repair and recycle electronic and electrical waste.

The project trains and employs disadvantaged people from the Hong Kong community to process, repair and recycle electronic and electrical waste.

Over the course of our partnership, Crossroads has given WEEE Go Green a hefty 38,443kg of electronic and electrical waste. Some of those items were even repaired and given back to Crossroads, so that we could give them away to our clients in need. On other occasions, the workshop has sourced equipment for our own operations, like a chest freezer (below) that our kitchen staff needed to store food for daily volunteer catering. They also supply us with new rice cookers for local clients who need them, from a stockpile of 30,000 donated to them – an incredible and valuable gift!

Freezer

A huge chest freezer sourced by WEEE Go Green has been a valuable addition to Crossroads’ volunteer catering department.

In a city that generates 70,000 tonnes in WEEE each year, it is a privilege to partner with groups like St James’ Settlement who care enough about our environment and our people to make Hong Kong a safer place for both.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Living in a city where 13,800 tonnes of waste are sent to landfill daily, we were excited to receive a donated solution for managing Crossroads’ own waste. Every day, as we receive donations, we handle cardboard, metal and plastics: all an abundant by-product of goods donations. With the compacting machine (above), donated by Ladies’ Circle Hong Kong, our environmental staff can compress all of this waste to a tiny 1/4 of their original volume. That means we can load four times as much waste onto a truck for recycling, giving four times the new life and purpose to something that could have been filling dump sites.four times the new life and purpose to something that could have been filling dump sites.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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The BBC calls if ‘the worst refugee camp on earth’. A camp on the far-flung island of Lesvos, Greece, seen by...

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The quantity was astonishing: 7,000 brand new toys, donated through our Global Hand service by a leading toy manufacturer. NGOs across...

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The Yamuna river, in Northern India, battles pollution on a tragic scale. Although its waters are clear in the early stages of its journey, when it flows through New Delhi, that drastically changes. Up to 80% of its pollution is gathered in the 22 km stretch within the city.

Entrepreneur Vimlendu Jha sought to make a difference. Targeting young Indian students, the leaders of tomorrow’s generation, he sought to gather change-makers. He soon found, though, that there were more environmental issues to be addressed and, in time, began a very successful scheme they call “Green the Gap.” It was started as a way to give waste another life by upcycling old materials. They purchase materials from rag-pickers and waste markets, transforming old tyres, juice cartons and waste fabrics into beautifully designed products.

We now stock trendy satchels and bags in our Global Handicrafts store. These products ‘do a double good’. They are good in brilliantly re-purposing trash and, being a Fair Trade organisation, good for employment opportunity. Many ‘Green the Gap’ workers have come from low income backgrounds and, by working there, have seen not only their environment improve, but their personal lives as well.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

HELPING LIGHT THE DARKNESS

The BBC calls if ‘the worst refugee camp on earth’. A camp on the far-flung island of Lesvos, Greece, seen by...

read more ...

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The quantity was astonishing: 7,000 brand new toys, donated through our Global Hand service by a leading toy manufacturer. NGOs across...

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One of the tenets of our fair trade principles is care for the environment. In our cafe and marketplace, we sell goods that are eco friendly as well as powerful in generating income for people in need.

The creativity of our producers leaves us in awe as they recycle and upcycle.

• In Uganda, for example, victims of the war years were strapped for materials to generate income. They roll, colour and varnish newspaper to produce jewellery so elegant none of our shoppers can guess the source material.

• In Mongolia and Myanmar, artisans upcycle glass shard to produce Christmas ornaments.

• In Cambodia, in the hands of craftsmen, rice sacks turn into funky bags, large and small.

• In India, saries are upcycled to provide decorative features on hessian bags.

• In Vietnam, crisp wrappers turn into tableware

Many of those farmers and suppliers also focus on organic products: tea, coffee, jams, cocoa, chocolates and spices.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Shop Now!

Browse Global Handicrafts’ full online range here or visit our shop at Crossroads Village to walk through our colourful global marketplace, with even more handmade delights from around the world, all of which care for the people who made them.

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HELPING LIGHT THE DARKNESS

The BBC calls if ‘the worst refugee camp on earth’. A camp on the far-flung island of Lesvos, Greece, seen by...

read more ...

7,000 brand new toys for Christmas

The quantity was astonishing: 7,000 brand new toys, donated through our Global Hand service by a leading toy manufacturer. NGOs across...

read more ...

Excelsior Hotel close equips HK social enterprise

It was the end of an era when Hong Kong’s beloved Excelsior shut down in early 2019. As their doors closed,...

read more ...

Helping equip Ukrainian maternity facility

"Finally, the repair of our maternity hospital is finished," wrote our colleagues in the Ukraine. "Your beds are in refurbished rooms...

read more ...