Health in Harmony, Planet in Disharmony

Laurel Chor

I grew up in Hong Kong with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) a normal part of my life. The tenets of TCM – including balance, energy and flow – are essential to Chinese culture and society. However, TCM has come under harsh criticism for the environmental consequences of the use of some of its remedies, like rhino horn, pangolin scales, or bear bile. On one hand, it’s undeniable that the industries that supply TCM with its ingredients – some of which are not condoned by mainstream TCM – are having an impact on nature around the world. On the other hand, I find much of the criticism to be unfair, uninformed, and sometimes, downright racist. If the world is really going to address the environmental crisis, we can’t afford more xenophobia, alienation, or divides. This new and ongoing photo project aims to show what TCM really is, who uses it, why, and how it’s really affecting the planet. I hope it helps to bridge cultural gaps and to spark an empathetic, sensitive and informed conversation about TCM and the environment.