Claire Sancelot is a one-woman green revolution. Her incredibly inspiring blog Zero Waste Hong Kong and Facebook page detail her fastidious commitment to living an expat life in Hong Kong while producing almost no waste at all. Her entire family of 6 (herself, her husband, 3 kids, 1 helper plus 1 very naughty dog) produce less than 1 bag of trash per week! Read more about how it all began below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I worked in marketing & advertising for more than 10 years before launching my first company a couple of years ago. Lulu Hong Kong was the first ethical fashion shop in Hong Kong. All the products were made in the US and Western Europe from eco-friendly natural fibers and dyes. Even our silk products were cruelty free. Sadly, I had to make the tough decision to close the store down during my very difficult second pregnancy (which results in with my lovely twins daughters1). The Lulu experience taught me a lot- I realized that although selling ethically-sourced products was a step in the right direction, it was not a viable solution to the problems facing our planet. The solution is actually to consume much less overall, consume locally, choose organic and use products with as little packaging as possible.
When did you first adopt a green lifestyle?
Like many of us, I was always very concerned about the environment. My parents have been recycling since the 80s, always carrying our own shopping bags, etc I thought these few habits were enough. Then I had my three babies in short succession- my oldest is 18 months older than the twins- and I found that every day, my garbage cans were full of diapers, wipes, plastic bottles on top of the usual household garbage. This is when my husband and I realized that our way of life was totally unsustainable and we decided to completely change the way we ‘consumed.’ We turned the experiment into a game: we would remove every disposable item in the house and replace it with a reusable version. If we felt too constrained, we would take a step back. We went day by day, one item at a time. I would say start by removing the kitchen paper towel roll and replacing it with a fabric cloth. (Have one cloth for hand washing and one doing the dishes if you think it is more hygienic).We also removed all the tissue boxes in the house, and within a week we realized that we did not need them- we could make do the fabric cloth or a sponge. We went on in our journey and at every step, consuming less and reusing more paid off greatly. Here are some of the rewards:
- 1. Less garbage- less to take out, no more paper, cardboard or plastic cling film).
- 2. Money saving- paper towels and tissues are expensive.
- 3. Time saving- less time spent grocery shopping, queuing and carrying everything back.
- 4. Healthy- every time you go to the kitchen to use the fabric cloth instead of grabbing the nearest tissue, you burn a few extra calories.
- 5. Aesthetics- your flat looks far less cluttered and those paper towels and tissues tend to be an eyesore.
What is your greenest daily habit?
Filtered water! Invest in a great water filter, you will get a return on the investment quite quickly. Our family probably consumes a minimum of 10 liters of drinking water every day, I cannot imagine what that would represents in number of plastic bottles required if we did not have a water filter.
Tell us about Hong Kong Green Home and its mission.
The blog was created one sunny day. There was no grand plan. Friends kept on asking me: How to replace this? Where to source that? How to recycle? Answering was getting really time consuming-I was writing the same information over and over in emails. The blog was a way to have one platform to share the knowledge and reach more people. Once the blog began, people got really into it, which really inspired me. The blog, and the conversation it created, made me go-and is still making me go- that extra mile to find a solution to remove all disposables from our lives.
What are some of the greenest features of Hong Kong Green Home?
Probably our Bokashi composting system, since our largest volume of waste is from vegetables/ fruits peels. People are really interested by the subject of composting but as most of us live in small apartments it can be a very intimidating concept. I know a lot of people who would love to compost if there was a weekly program that could “wet waste”. Attention Hong Kong entrepreneurs, think green, think composting!
Share a green Hong Kong tip with our readers.
In Hong Kong, there are still way too many people requesting plastic/paper bags everywhere they shop, using disposable paper cups and carrying plastic bottles. My number one tip is to always have a reusable shopping bag in your purse! As well as a reusable water bottle/tumbler and reusable utensils. Ok so that’s three. But by having these three items in your handbag, you can reduce your daily wastage by a shocking amoutn. I believe it is best to start with baby eco steps. Before you start making your own toothpaste, using less packaging on a daily is a small way to make a large difference.
Where is your favorite place to eat green in Hong Kong?
For lunch, I really enjoy Mana for a quick bite and Grassroots Pantry if I have time for a longer break. These days, I find it difficult to eat out because I am now so conscious of asking where the food comes from, was there any animal cruelty involved at any point, are the restaurant’s well treated? I try to be flexible on weekends when out with friends as I don’t want to become anti-social, but we always ask for the filtered water :).
Green Queen Heroes is a monthly series showcasing the talented and relentless individuals who are helping to make Hong Kong a greener, cleaner, kinder place to live and giving us eco-warriors more accessible options!
All images courtesy of Hong Kong Green Home.