Waste not, want not
Thinking of going a little greener this year? Well, our latest That Girl is here to show us the ropes and help us out along the way. Founder of online marketplace, NO!W No Waste, Fanny Moritz is leading the way in the Hong Kong Zero Waste movement and helping to bring plastic-free alternatives to the 852. We sat down with her to find out a little more about her background and how she started, along with her top tips for how we can all use a little less plastic, and her favourite spot for French food in the city…
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you from and how long have you lived in Hong Kong?
I’m a French entrepreneur, I arrived in Hong with a 3-month contract and have now been here for 6 years, and counting! Time flies!
I was born in Paris but my family comes from the East of France, near Germany.
You’re the founder of NO!W No Waste, an online marketplace offering alternatives to daily disposables. How did you first get involved in the zero-waste movement?
At the end 2015 I read an article about Bea Johnson and I saw a picture of her trash jar, which really surprised me, as the waste produced by her family of 4 over a whole year fits into a hand-size jar. I thought this was impossible to do!
When the article mentioned her book “Zero Waste Home”, with tips and ideas that helped her to get to this little amount of waste, I decided to read it and it was a revelation for me. I was already eco-conscious and living a minimalist lifestyle where I tried not to own too many things, so it was logical for me to take this new challenge.
I started to look for reusable and compostable products that were mentioned in her book to help me follow this new lifestyle in Hong Kong, but I couldn’t find them. There was no dedicated shop at that time, everything was online on different websites, with expensive shipping fees, as well as a huge carbon footprint. So, it gave me an idea. Since I had been developing websites for 10 years, and this topic was really something I cared about, I decided to create a unique e-commerce website where people in Hong Kong could have easy access to all the reusable and compostable products they need to follow a Zero Waste lifestyle.
How easy do you find living a waste-free lifestyle in Hong Kong, and do you have any tips for our readers?
It only depends on how motivated you actually are. You need to change your habits – and it takes an average of 21 days for a task to become a habit. But yes, there are solutions, even in Hong Kong – so no excuses!
The best tip I would give is to start by reading the Zero Waste bible: “Zero Waste Home” that has changed the life of many people!
Then, here are three easy first steps that anyone can start with:
- Carry a tote back with you, so you can refuse the plastic bag that is usually given when you buy anything. It’s small once folded, fits in your handbag or a pocket, and will come in handy very often!
- Refuse the plastic straws in your cocktails and juices. This will avoid so much waste ending up in the oceans!
- Bring your own container when you get take-away food and drinks. It will help you avoid having to use the plastic boxes they give you, and you’ll also very probably get a discount out of it because many restaurants and coffee shops now support the movement and offer lower prices to people who come with their own lunchbox or coffee mug. Zero Waste and economical!
A lot of places have also started replacing their plastic straws with paper or metal ones. The movement has started!
And if you want to go further into this lifestyle, start buying your groceries with a minimum of plastic packaging. Purchase your fruits and veggies at the market and go to bulk stores to buy your pasta, rice, vinegar, eggs. Just remember to bring your own containers (I usually go to Edgar in K11 TST).
We created a zero-waste map for people who want to make the switch, that regroups all the bulk shops, coffees houses and restaurants in Hong Kong that we know of. It’s open to the public so anyone can add a new location they have discovered, and help the map to be more complete.
Before starting NO!W No Waste, you founded a digital agency, NETPOM. How did you transition from one to the other? And how do you balance doing both?
I was still a web developer when I got the idea for NOW, and at first, I mostly saw it as a personal challenge. But, as soon as the project got bigger, and after it was officially launched, I had to make some decisions. Having two jobs at a time was counterproductive and very tiring physically.
So, after four months of intense activity, I decided to stop accepting new clients for Netpom, and focus all my energy on NOW. And I regret nothing!
Both companies are huge successes and through NETPOM in particular you have worked with some huge names (Alchemy, H&M and Ladurée to name a few!), but what has been your biggest achievement so far?
My biggest achievement so far is when people tell me that I inspire them; whether it is to launch a business, or to reduce their waste.
It’s also funny because sometimes my friends call me to ask which soap they should choose, or they think of me when they empty their trash, and realise it is still too much. Aha, it’s not very sexy, but it’s true!
You’re originally from France, what drew you to Hong Kong? And what do you most miss about home?
I came here for a three-month job contract, then decided to have my own business in web development, and I’m still here 6 years later! It feels like time flies much faster here than in other cities.
What I miss about France is not wine, cheese, or even charcuterie – yes, I know, very unusual from a French person! – but spending quality time with my family.
The French are known for their fashion! What are your favourite fashion and beauty brands in Hong Kong?
Oh la la! Good question, but to be honest, I am not known for my fashion sense. I’m not the kind of girl who owns a ton of shoes or has a huge wardrobe.
The less I have, the happier I am ☺
Where do you go in Hong Kong when you’re craving authentic French cuisine? I’m sure our readers would love to know the best spots!
I usually go to Pastis, my favorite French restaurant in Central. I love the croque-monsieur, you really need to give it a try! And for dessert – because a nice diner needs a sweet ending – I usually go to La Rotisserie for its delicious chocolate cake (sweet and savory in same time). Delish!
And in your down-time what are your favourite things to do around the city?
I’m a workaholic, but when I have a day-off, I usually try to meet up with my friends and look for new restaurants or bars to try.
NO!W No Waste focuses on brands with a social impact, but are there any other brands and movements in Hong Kong that you support (and we should know about!)?
Oh god yes! There are tons of great initiatives that have launched in Hong Kong. Here are a few:
- Edgar (in K11 – TST) – the first bulk shop where you can buy your food package-free
- Stanley Beach Clean-Up – if you want to help out one afternoon
- ImpactHK – a charity dedicated to supporting the homeless and underprivileged in Hong Kong.
Thanks to the talented Michelle Proctor of Michelle Proctor Photography for all of the beautiful images above! Follow her on Instagram @michellejproctor and Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichelleProctorPhotography.