The Cardboard ladies of Hong Kong

A lady collecting cardboard for a living is seen in Mongkok.

In Hong Kong, there are  a lot of elderly people who try to make ends meet by collecting and selling cardboard to recycling companies, commonly called the “cardboard ladies”. A feature was made on them in the South China Morning Post in 2014.

Recent Developments

Recently, the plight of the cardboard ladies made the headlines when an old lady got arrested by the HK authorities for reselling cardboard at 1 HKD. The old lady got charged by the  Food and Environment agency of Hong Kong with unlicensed hawking and obstruction of public places. She was released on a bail of 30 HKD. This bail may seem very low, but it left her with only 34 HKD in her pocket!

This brought around an outcry of the public and eventually, the department agreed to drop the charges against the old lady. This served however as a revealer of the huge economic divide in Hong Kong.

The cardboard ladies, illustration of a huge economic divide

While Hong Kong is generally seen as a prosperous city, the prosperity has not reached every class of the population. There are people who are still economically struggling, especially in the low income classes. When they reach retirement, cost of living and cost of housing take their toll.

The “cardboard ladies” are just one example stressing how the city is becoming increasingly unlivable.

Update on 14/07/2017: Bloomberg published an article on the Cardboard ladies : https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-12/china-s-property-boom-passes-by-migrants-to-hong-kong

You can watch their video below:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2017-07-12/the-tough-lives-of-hong-kong-s-cardboard-collectors-video

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