How to be a green DJ in Hong Kong

April 10, 2018 13:17
DJ sets from Solar Sound System HK are powered by solar and kinetic energy. Photo: Facebook

The Fragrant Harbour is anything but at the best of times. Hong Kong's problems with waste, landfill space, inefficient recycling systems and overconsumption are well documented. That's not to mention air pollution and green city planning, and general attitudes to sustainable living. (Where else would an incredible natural resource like Lantau be slowly transformed into a zone for commercial activities?)

If you have ever stood on Sunset Peak and surveyed the majesty of the surrounds, you would never think Lantau needed the myriad of pointless commercial enterprises being proposed in the name of "progress", whatever the meaning of that is.

There is always someone to blame except yourself. As a DJ, or people who work in the club scene, we have to reflect on our own role in the growing environmental disaster. Everything from lighting to sound systems, flyers, plastic cups and straws are major contributors to waste.

Just have a walk down LKF or Lockhart Road after a major holiday party, and the accumulated trash is significant – the majority of this ends up in landfills, which are currently close to capacity. Despite plenty of lip service, recycling in Hong Kong is nothing more than an exercise in exporting your problems elsewhere.

You just need to look at the Winter of Discontent in the UK, where rubbish piled up on the streets, to see how failing to clear up one's trash, both literally and figuratively, can become a powerful metaphor for the general failings of a society.

Environmental degradation is just one way in which Hong Kong society is currently robbing the younger generation of their right to have the best life possible. The problems seem so complex as to be insurmountable, maybe the answers lie in small changes?

Playing a DJ set, for example, requires power for two turntables, a mixer, amplifier, and speakers as the most basic setup. What if that could be powered from a sustainable source of energy? It was thus heartening to have the opportunity to DJ on a 100 percent renewable-power sound system at the recent "Streets of Hong Kong with models by Joshua Smith" exhibition in Causeway Bay.

Run by Solar Sound System HK, it works via sun and kinetic energy, with two attached bikes which partygoers can use to generate energy, and see how much they are contributing to the fairly powerful sound system. It was fun, positive and educational – I was busy playing tunes and also explaining how it all worked to several curious visitors to the art gallery.

The system can be used for anything that requires amplification or powering, from bands to talks, online streaming for radio shows or even simply charging stations for phones at events. It’s a small step to making right the wrongs that we are exacting upon our natural environment, and it shows that meaningful change is always the sum of small accumulative actions.

When added to initiatives to stop the use of straws, the development of dancefloors that generate energy, using LED lighting, or having waterless urinals in toilets, renewable-power DJ systems are another step in the right direction for clubs.

Most people don’t want to hear a lecture about being green, but systems that captivate and create a sense of fascination might be able to inspire Hongkongers to change.

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EJI contributor