New trends: Young people switching to a more sustainable lifestyle
Updated 22:40, 16-Aug-2023

Editor's note:  CGTN presents "New Trends," which provides you new trends among Chinese people and tells you reasons behind them. In this part of the series, CGTN offers an insight into the choice of Generation Zers in China pursuing a "life without trace" as the country marks its first National Ecology Day.

In a hot afternoon in August, He Yuming, wearing her dad's big shirt and sweating profusely, sat down in a café and then took out a neatly-folded handkerchief to wipe her sweat.

Everyday, He, beginning her sustainable journey in 2019, brings a reusable water bottle, tableware, portable charger, handkerchief, home-made lipstick and shopping bags in her small second-hand cross-body bag. The zero-waste kit can basically meet the needs of the day, so that she tries not to produce garbage.

In China, growing numbers of young people, with great respect for nature, are finding their ways to lower their carbon footprint. For those young nature-lovers, zero-waste is just a hobby, making them live with less and leading more fulfilling lives. 


'Love myself and love our planet'

Su Yige, also named Yigedaizi on social media, labeling herself as "a hedonic environmentalist," is a environment vlogger who shares her daily eco-friendly lifestyle and thoughts on environment protection on social media.

Su shares eco-friendly tips when attending a beeswax wrap workshop./Photo provided by Su Yige.
Su shares eco-friendly tips when attending a beeswax wrap workshop./Photo provided by Su Yige.

Su shares eco-friendly tips when attending a beeswax wrap workshop./Photo provided by Su Yige.

She feels that "life without trace" will not sacrifice the quality of life and the pursuit of happiness, but, leave minimal impact on the environment.

"Love myself and love our earth," she wrote on her YouTube profile.

Su's path on environment protection is also a teenagers' self-discovery journey. In her freshman year in university, Su was insecure about how she looked and how she dressed.

"Now, I really don't mind if people judge me on my clothes or my makeup. Instead, I would tell them that I truly didn't spend too much time on fashion or my outlook. What I love is the planet and nature," said Su.

Just a hobby and a lifestyle

Beyond charity and morality, environmental protection is more like a hobby and a lifestyle for those nature lovers.

"I don't care if I can influence anyone. I like environment protection just like some other people love basketball or pop singers," Su said to CGTN.

Deeply influenced by her family's living habits, He was instilled with eco-friendly awareness and respect for nature since childhood.

In 2019, He began her minimalist lifestyle journey — getting rid of the things she didn't need and focusing on things that really matter. Several months later, she realized that sustainability might be a better choice since it is about being a more conscious consumer and making decisions that doesn't damage the environment.

Bicycle and subway are He's most frequently used modes of transport. /CGTN
Bicycle and subway are He's most frequently used modes of transport. /CGTN

Bicycle and subway are He's most frequently used modes of transport. /CGTN

Then, He meticulously upgraded aspects of her existence to lead a more sustainable and less-carbon-consuming life by opting for consciously made, compostable and long-lasting, zero-waste daily items.

The first step was to change her shampoo and conditioner to shampoo bar soap and use reusable cups when ordering milk tea. 

When talking about her next ecological footprint, He said she will be more eco-friendly on more occasions.

"I have many small goals. Next, I hope I can reduce the use of disposal napkins and plastic bags when buying vegetable or meat," He said.

A thriving community

"We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly," Su shared her favorite quotes in her video. 

"When I started embrace sustainable lifestyle in Canada, many people thought I was a Japanese student since there were few Chinese people would choose such lifestyle," she said to CGTN.

Then she searched online and found that all the contents about sustainable lifestyle on social media in China were advocated by local government or non-profits organizations.

"It is not because no one in China likes this way of life, but because no one knows such lifestyle is possible," she said. Then she started her vlog journey on social media.

To help more nature-lovers find people sharing the same interests, Su established an online group named "life without trace," which has attracted over 30,000 members online.

In her group, the most active topics of discussion are reduction in the use of plastics, environmental protection life in university dormitories and how to grow vegetables at dormitories.

In Beijing, there is a group of thousands of people who keeping picking up garbage every week.

"There is a constant flow of garbage, and there is no end to picking them up,”Zhang Yashi, 36, the founder of Plogging Beijing, said. "I hope that I can influence more people to realize that the environment needs to be maintained through activities like this."

To them, plogging, an act of picking up litter while jogging, is just simplicity and a desire to make a positive difference. 

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