Big changes take time– environmental group leader interview

by Karen SONG Keyi

Gabrielle Ho, project manager of Green Sense

When Gabrielle Ho is grabbing her lunch one day, she overhears a man’s complaint. “We still rely on electric fans in autumn, then how are we gonna survive in summer?” She doesn’t argue with the man though she really wants to, but she can’t help thinking: is it really that hot to turn on the air conditioner?

Ho, 29, is the project manager of Green Sense, a non-governmental environmental organization. Among all the environment-related topics, the wise use of air conditioner is one of their major concerns.

“The electric heaters in a convenience store of the neighborhood are almost sold out because the room temperature in an office building is too cold. ” she says. “This is totally unreasonable and unnecessary. It doubles the waste.”

Green Sense, established in 2004, advocates environmental friendly practice in society and calls for public environmental consciousness through research and education. It also focuses on issues of shark saving and light pollution etc.

Recently, Ho is busy with the Lung Mei project, a controversial proposal to turn a natural beach near Tai Po into an artificial public beach by 2015. The Green Sense, together with other green groups is working hard to save the habitat of more than 200 rare marine and bird species.

Ho, like most college graduates did, found her first job at a large company. But it was not long before she quit her job. “The company is really environmental unfriendly in many ways.” Ho explains. Then she became a staff of Green Sense after her three-year voluntary work. “I’ve really given up lots of things,” says Ho, “but I just felt a sense of mission to do so.”

The geography major says she got the initiated ideas from her mother. “She collected all the plastic bags and brought them when she went to supermarket,” Ho says, “She also told me to collect the bath water and reuse it to mop the floor.”

Now it’s the eighth year since Ho has been to Green Sense. “It’s not easy,” says Ho, “We have received phone calls from angry residents, some of whom were very rude, blaming us on setting the temperature of air conditioners so high that they are sweating.” “It’s understandable because big changes take time,” she adds, “but I will persist in what I think is right. This is quite important.”