For Feiy's new Impact Series we are talking to entrepreneurs who pursue a path greater than just profit and strive to contribute to the greater good with their products and services.
Today Let’s meet Alizee. She founded Zer’0 Waste Shanghai, that is devoted to contribute to a sustainable future and to continuous environmental improvement, by supporting and consulting companies on how to take steps towards being zero waste.
今天，我们与Alizee见面。她创立了Zer’0 Waste Shanghai，藉由支持和咨询公司如何实现零浪费，致力于对永续发展的未来做出贡献，以及持续进步的环境。
Can you tell us more about Zer’0 Waste Shanghai and your mission?
Zer'0 Waste Shanghai is a sustainability consultancy firm with the mission to bring individuals, corporations and schools closer to the circular economy. Our current lifestyle and way of living is not sustainable and we believe that the circular economy is a model where the three P's will fully benefit: people, profit, planet. We do this by tackling problems one by one and make it easy through our support and vibrant optimistic mindset.
您可以跟我们分享更多有关Zer’0 Waste Shanghai以及您的使命吗？
Zer'0 Waste Shanghai 是一个永续发展顾问公司，使命是拉近个人、公司和企业与循环经济的距离。我们目前的生活方式就是不永续，而我们相信循环经济对3P：people（人），profit（利润）、planet（地球）是完全受益的。我们逐一解决问题，并藉由我们的支持和充满活力的乐观心态，使其更轻松达到这一点。
What is your personal background, how did you find your why, your purpose, and how did it lead you to Zer'0 Waste Shanghai?
I am from Belgium and was raised there for most of my life. I had a very green and nice childhood, very much focused on sustainability, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I have very loving parents, a dad who still cooks great food, prefers organic or free range, really has this respect and this connection with nature. We spent our weekends outside (or at least were pushed to) and I spent summers with the scouts building our own house, oven, table and so on. This was a big part of my life. I grew up not knowing what I wanted to do but I knew that I wanted to travel the world and discovering new cultures. I was always jealous of people that had found their way, because I felt like I was late.
The first time I was close to finding my purpose was my last week in my master. I was doing a master in fashion design luxury management， because I love the creative world and wanted to be part of it. During this class we were talking about sustainable luxury and all the bad things on the other side of the coin of the fashion world. It was horrible news, but in a way it made me very energetic. I could feel in my entire body that this was something I had to pursue. Then, I looked more into the circular economy, and when I watched Ellen MacArthur’s video on YouTube on circular economy, I just knew that this was what I had to do.
I chose the topic of circular economy for my master thesis. Whilst researching, I figured out that we are so far from a circular economy, and asked myself “how can I get there faster?”. And what I started doing was living a zero waste lifestyle, which is very similar to circular economy. Circular economy sounds better on a corporate and governmental level, whereas a zero waste lifestyle is more on the level of an individual. Zer'0 Waste Shanghai (ZWS) was born from that. Within a year, news of the zero waste lifestyle spread and people wanted to join the movement, and then a company was born, which is ZWS today.
您的背景是什么？您是如何寻找您的为什么，您的目的？而它又如何引导您到Zer'0 Waste Shanghai？
我选择了循环经济做为我硕士论文的主题。研究的同时，我发现我们离循环经济好远，于是我问我自己：「我可以如何更快地达到那儿？」。而我所做的就是开始过着与循环经济相似的零浪费生活方式。循环经济在企业和政府层面听起来比较好，而零浪费生活比较属于个人层面。 Zer’0 Waste Shanghai (ZWS)的开始就是如此。在一年内，零浪费的生活方式传播开来，而人们也加入这个行动，接着就是公司，也就是今天的ZWS 。
What does it bring to people to be part of this community when starting their zero waste journey? What is the «power» of the community you believe in?
I believe that people want to be good citizens. They want to do good but they don’t know where to start. So therefore, the fact that we are giving solutions on how to do it was what pushed people towards Zer'0 Waste (ZW).
»I can have a bamboo tooth brush, I can shop differently, I can do this and that... » so people find a certain purpose, something meaningful, something deeper, bigger than themselves and in helping each other out. There is more and more of this awareness among us. I think this is what draws people to their zero waste journeys. They feel like they’re actually making improvements.
我相信人们想要成为好的公民。他们想要做好，但他们不知造从何开始。因此，将人们导向Zer'0 Waste (ZW)是我们提供如何解决的方式。
Is living in Shanghai (one of the biggest cities, in one of the most polluted countries) a chance or a challenge for the zero waste movement?
It’s both! It is a chance because it allows us to grow very fast. We are able to talk to a much bigger public at a much faster pace, so we can have a bigger impact. It’s a challenge because we still have to raise awareness, even though there is a lot of awareness already in the city. Nevertheless, it’s a challenge, because people here have their comfort, they like the fact that they can order waimai, taobao (editor note : take away, take out), they like the fact that they can buy certain things very easily. But again I think this is something we can gradually move towards.
The zero waste lifestyle is both trendy and, at the same time, still the complete antithesis of the modern way of life that a lot of young people aspire to in China, based on consumption and sometimes even a taste for luxury and expensive products. What observations could you make relatively to this double, simultaneous trend?
People all over the world are looking for Purpose; we are looking for something deeper, we want to be happy. We think that through consumption we can fill this void. And today people buy on Taobao or in the stores because they think « this will make me feel better » and that it will fill this void that they have. And then, when they hear about zero waste lifestyle and minimalism and finding meaning in other things, it also speaks to them because in a way we all know that stuffs don’t make us happy. And to be honest, I’m not a person of extremes. I think there is always this duality within us. As much as it is a chance and a challenge in shanghai. We have this taste for luxury, of course, but at the same time we want to live this simple life. I am the perfect example. I really want to live a super simple life but I love beautiful things, I do love luxury. The middle ground that I try to choose is that I will buy very little. Every single thing that I own is going to be something that I absolutely love and it would represent luxury for me. For example, my house is really nice, it’s really a piece of heaven and I have one table, but that table is super cheap and is made from a door and that’s it, but it looks luxurious at the same time. And I think that we can completely balance both together. That’s how I see this double simultaneous trend.
That is also like a trade-off. The more you focus on things that make you happy such as meditation, knowing yourself better and spending your time with loved ones, the less stuff you need. When you don’t take time to nurture what truly is important then you eventually will start to crave something else. It’s always one or the other.
What are your top 3 advices for people that want to start living in a more sustainable way, create less waste and be more eco-friendly, but who feel a bit overwhelmed or don’t know where to start?
Number one advice, make baby steps. Don’t have your deadline for next week. Give yourself a deadline for 6 or 3 months. If you really want to be ambitious, make baby steps! Changing your lifestyle is difficult, you’re going to make mistakes and that’s fine. But the first thing is give yourself time, don’t be too harsh on yourself.
Second advice, find yourself a Zero Waste group, or follow us on WeChat (ID: Zerowasteshanghaiofficial) and ask for help to know where to buy what.
The third one, would be to really remember why you’re doing this. Sometimes you will feel, “oh I’m going to be a weirdo, people are going to look at me weirdly”, then remember why you’re doing this. Is it for your kid? Is it for something else ? One last advice: make it fun. Make it something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re not going to stick to it. Take it seriously, but don’t forget to smile sometimes. We run a bi-monthly workshop on the Zero Waste Lifestyle as well, where we provide people with ready-made, directly implementable solutions.
建议二，寻找Zero Waste群，或是WeChat追踪我们（ID: Zerowasteshanghaiofficial），来寻求协助，了解在哪里买什么。
You are also working together with other companies, can you tell us a bit more about the corporate mindset toward zero waste, did it evolve in the last years?
Companies have definitely evolved in the last few years, four years ago they would have no clue what we were talking about. They would be like «why would I pay for this, this is ridiculous, this is what NGOs do», but now they are much more open-minded and understanding that they have to improve things. Their customers are asking for more, so I think there is an open mindset. It still needs to make financial sense and they still need to know, concretely like «what am I going to get out of this?” But they are much more open minded, which is absolutely great news. Today we consult corporations on implementing measurable and concrete solutions to reduce their environmental footprint.
Maybe you can give us an example (or more) of a successful corporate collaboration you had? Any great learning along the way?
We have worked with companies in the textile industry. We were able to help them influence their staff, make couple of their practices more zero waste. For example to save 5000rmb just by removing single use plastics for their office. So imagine the impact we can have on their supply chain. We also have been working with an online e-commerce platform training their staff so they can start implement more zero waste practices at the office. Other than this we work with a large luxury brand every year, on team building activities. We have also helped another fashion brand with the requirements on their certification on sustainability.
Any exciting next steps or plan for Zer’0 Waste’s future that you would like to share with us?
We are thinking of having a broader impact other than only in Shanghai. So we are looking to see if there are other places where we can grow in 2021. We are fine tuning our services towards our core expertise, which is assisting companies with the implementation of sustainable practices and solutions. And of course we are very happy with the ongoing collaboration we have with Feiy, that’s really something incredible as well.
What would you say have been or are the main challenges in your daily life as an entrepreneur and growing Zer’0 Waste Shanghai?
Zer’0 Waste. ZW is my company, yes, but I don’t see it as my baby. For the longest time I have been pushing away things that are important to me such as a healthy lifestyle, moving my body, some personal ambitions that I had that are not business related...for the sake of ZW.
Right now what I’m trying to get to is more …. I’m not going to call it “balance” because I don’t believe in balance, but I would say more towards a place I can have time for both and I can become more efficient. I don’t believe that an entrepreneur has to work day and night.
For my personal goals, I know that I can achieve them if I am being efficient with my time and prioritise what’s important now.
And then, as an entrepreneur and going zero waste, I think that what makes a company grow is the people that are on the team. And so Zer'0 Waste can grow if the people that I am with daily are growing as well. So I am not pushing everyone to grow but I hope I am able to instil a need, or a want, or a desire to grow and to nurture the people who are with me. That’s the most important thing. You need to really take care of the people that work for you, because without them there is no.
身为一位企业家，日益增长的Zer’0 Waste Shanghai和您日常面临或曾经面临的挑战是什么？
Who has been or is a great source of inspiration in your journey, either as a social entrepreneur, as a zero waster or just as a responsible citizen?
I have many inspirations that I look up to, it will change from time to time depending on what I need. My first inspiration, I mean the hard-working inspiration comes from my home. I have parents that work really hard. Everyone in my family is really hardworking
Ellen MacArthur was an incredible source of inspiration, also as a woman, being a sailor, from a sport person and moving to something much bigger like the circular economy.
I also like Bea Johnson and Lauren singer. They’re based in the US. Even if today they’re not as much as an inspiration now, but for the start of my journey they were great. Today I look up more to entrepreneurs, such as Rachel Hollis and entrepreneurs in my social circle. I find the mindset of Robin Arzon just incredible, she’s an athlete, a business woman and she’s a vegan. I look up to Rich Roll, again someone that embodies both sport and a conscious lifestyle.
我有很多灵感来源，依我的需要，它会随着时间改变。我的第一个灵感，我是指努力工作的灵感，来自我的家。我的父母非常辛勤的工作，而且我家庭的所有人真的非常勤劳。 Ellen MacArthur是个不可思议的灵感来源，她来自体育界，而无论是作为女性或一名水手，她转向如循环经济般更大的领域。我也喜欢Bea Johnson 和Lauren singer。他们来自美国。即使今天他们不再像是灵感，但在我旅程的开始，他们很棒。今天，我大多敬仰企业家，如Rachel Hollis以及在我社交圈的企业家。我发现Robin Arzon的心态令人难以置信，她是一位运动员、一位商业女性而且是一位素食者。我敬仰Rich Roll，再次地，一位体现了运动和有意识的生活方式。
Do you have a book to recommend to our readers?
I highly recommend to read the book ‘Sapiens’ for sure. (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari ). Also the book ‘The Third Industrial Revolution’, a book from the economist Jeremy rifkin- (TR : François & Paul chemla). ‘Un million de révolutions tranquilles’ from Bénédicte Manier – (A million quiet revolutions). ‘The sixth extinction’ from E. Kolbert. And lastly ‘Petit Manuel de résistance contemporaine’ from Cyril Dion.
我首先强烈建议Sapiens（Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari），以及由经济学家Jeremy rifkin- (译: François & Paul chemla)，所著的The Third Industrial Revolution；Bénédicte Manier的Un million de révolutions (A million quiet revolutions) ；E. Kolbert的The sixth extinction。最后，Cyril Dion所著的Petit Manuel de résistance contemporaine。
To join the movement and receive our best stories directly in your inbox