Interview by CSF Ambassadors: Nicole Po and Claire Hodges.
Tuesday, May 28th , 2019
Authors: Nicole Po: 3rd year Biochemistry and Claire Hodges: 1st year Nursing I 2018-2019 CSF Ambassador.
Tell me a little about yourself: Name, Year, Major, Dream Job, and favorite Night Market food!
Name: Justin Ho
Dream Job: Consulting
Favorite Night Market food: Taiwanese sausages
What inspired you to implement environmentally-friendly practices into your event?
JH: For a lot of TSA officers and members of the same body, being environmentally-friendly is really high on our list of goals. To be able to build that into the Night Market is something that we're really proud of, and we want to keep doing it year after year.
What are some challenges you faced in implementing your project & how did you overcome them? Did you get any pushback from any of the vendors when you asked them to stop selling bottled water?
JH: Plastic water bottles are awful for the environment. To solve that issue, we wanted to give out free reusable glass water bottles and to have our patrons refill at the provided water stations. I guess the biggest issue was probably getting the reusable water bottles; it’s cheaper to get them from China, but there are a lot of tariffs and other customs that we had to go through. That was my biggest challenge. How I overcame it? A lot of paperwork!
Another thing that we've been fighting for a long time is progressing to be able to use all-compostable products, because it reduces a lot of cross contamination. When we told the vendors that we didn’t want them selling non-compostable parts, we got some pushback, but I feel that we can continue to work on that year by year. I hope that as our relationship with vendors grow, we'll have more leverage over the situation.
What do you think worked well? What would you do differently for future Night Markets? Would you add any other sustainable methods?
JH: The water stations actually worked out really well! We hope to continue implementing those since we got past the issue of obtaining reusable water bottles. Next year, we'll be working on going all-compostable. It's a lot easier for the vendors to use plastic because it's often a cheaper option and because they might feel that it's not really their responsibility to what goes in the trash-- but it is ours! We are working to move towards using all-compostable utensils, so that everything can be thrown into the compost. That way, people don’t have to worry about cross contamination (throwing material into the wrong bins).
If you’ve been to a Night Market in Taiwan, are there differences you’ve noticed in the way they handle their waste compared to the one you hosted?
JH: In Taiwan, they basically have a big plastic bag to throw everything in. I'm not sure how the government deals with that. But in our network, we're going to try and improve on that front.
What message to the community (future TSA officers, attendees, vendors) do you hope to convey in your work?
JH: We want every year to be an improvement on the last, and to keep the changes that we have from past years so that it builds and builds until the Night Market is a really green event. Hopefully, this event will encourage and inspire other Night Markets and similar events to take on responsibility for the environment.