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Day in the Life as a Scavenger

Sep 13th, 2023

Alex Fang


Facts to know before we get started:

"80% of scavengers are elderly women 60-89 years old"

"72% of which make less than 24HKD per day"

"31% work over 8 hours a day"


Hong Kong has a unique predicament. Despite being known as “Asia’s World City” and a bustling financial center, it has its share of impoverished citizens. Significantly affected are the city’s elderly: Estimates suggest approximately 583,600 elderly people live in poverty, 39.3% of the total elderly demographic. This shocking image of poverty often retains a key notion:



Hong Kong’s forsaken “cardboard grannies”. Sadly, even when considering the challenges of the job, these cardboard scavengers can scantly make enough to cover their daily expenses. Whilst government subsidies do exist, they harshly cover all fronts, necessitating jobs like these. In numbers, 80% of scavengers are elderly women between 60-89 years old. Working hours are long and uncompensated for. Some may work up to 8 hours per day earning at most 24HKD. For reference, the SMW for HK is $40 per hour. By any measure, the job and life as a scavenger is unfair, uncompensated, and unthanked for.


Case Study: Day in the Life of a Scavenger


Working hours are long and competition is fierce to acquire cardboard to sell. Profits are low, meaning those who do work face grueling hours for any substantial compensation.


Even as they clean HK’s streets and manage our paper waste, these scavengers still face harsh criticism and stereotypes such as “dirty, uneducated” in their profession.


In light of this, we want to try our best to help. We go to the streets of Sham Shui Po to interview and financially support cardboard grannies. At school, we create cardboard products themed around cardboard grannies and sell them to raise funds to assist HK’s cardboard scavengers. Through raising money and spreading compassion, we hope that we can be of assistance and change their lives for the better.


Interested in joining our mission? Here's our application.


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Works Cited


Cheung, E. (2018). New study into Hong Kong’s forsaken ‘cardboard grannies’ finds they earn just HK$716 a month. [online] South China Morning Post. Available at: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/community/article/2148168/hong-kongs-forsaken-street-scavengers-female-elderly-and [Accessed 22 May 2023].


V Cycle (2014). V Cycle — Poverty Alleviation. [online] V Cycle. Available at: https://www.vcycle.com.hk/poverty-alleviation [Accessed 22 May 2023].


Scavendgers. (2023). Scavendgers - Application. [online] Google.com. Available at: https://sites.google.com/student.isf.edu.hk/scavendgers/application [Accessed 22 May 2023].


Westbrook, L. (2023). How far will HK$40 go in Hong Kong? New minimum wage takes effect amid city’s rising living costs. [online] South China Morning Post. Available at: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/hong-kong-economy/article/3219040/how-far-will-hk40-go-hong-kong-new-minimum-wage-takes-effect-amid-citys-rising-living-costs [Accessed 22 May 2023].


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