Take 5 with… Diane from Coconut Matter
Hong Kong’s heroes are everywhere right now. Out in the streets, in the Western media, but also in the sustainable debate and on Kickstarter launching their newest projects. With our deepest gratitude and admiration, we present to you Hong Kong based Eco-Warrior, Diane from Coconut Matter!
Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from, and why did you choose Hong Kong as a base for yourself and your business?
I was born in Singapore, spent my formative years in Australia, and worked in Singapore and China in the late 90s. I jumped on the opportunity to move to Hong Kong when a client offered me a job here in 2000. I love the vitality of Hong Kong, I admire the go-getter nature of its people. The culturally diverse population consisting of expats and local communities fascinates me.
What's important to you, and how do these values affect your professional choices?
I was all about "I", until I became a mother. Through my daughter, I started to see beyond "I" and "now". I see her, her future generations, and the future. I see how environmental issues will impact her future, it inspires me which in turn, inspires the values driving Coconut Matter.
Tell us about Coconut Matter - what’s your mission and vision?
Coconut Matter was founded on the simple premise of doing something good. We believe in sourcing sustainably and designing for minimal waste to build a lifestyle that truly matters. Our singular vision is to enable our customers to make zero-waste and high impact choices easier. Collectively, through consuming consciously, I believe we can leave a healthier planet for future generations.
How would you describe the general eco-awareness in Hong Kong (is there a discrepancy between the local and the expat community?) and what do you personally do on daily basis to live more consciously?
Sep 2016 is when we first started selling lip-balm in paper tubes, I sold very few. Typhoon Hato came in 2017 – Typhoon 10 caused a lot of damage but also for the first time, the public saw styrofoam washed up to their homes, and the streets covered with plastic trash. That year, I sold 1000 paper tube lip balms and launched a paper tube lipstick. I spent less time explaining why paper tube is better than conventional packaging - why it matters. Today, our top seller is Mood Natural Deodorant in a paper tube.
I definitely see a heighten eco-awareness in Hong Kong over the years. Both local and the expat community are involved in their own way. Grassroots initiatives on Facebook forums sharing zero-waste tips to weekend locations where second hands goods are sold, and Canto-pop Sammi Cheng urging her fans to go green at her concert. Modern bulk stores such at Live Zero and Edgar are providing expats bulk food alternatives. Schools are incorporating sustainability as part of their curriculum. However, there is still a gap between awareness and taking action to change. So we still have a lot of work to do.
What do you personally do on daily basis to live more consciously?
Personally, I enjoy a minimalistic lifestyle. My PJs is my husband's old t-shirt, my favourite jacket is an 18-years-old Patagonia hoodie, I pack lunch to work, I refused packing individually wrapped school snacks for my daughter and my helper goes to local wet market to avoid supermarket's packaging,
Before I fly, I pack my own water bottle, coffee flask, snacks, headphones and wash bag. Air stewardess would refill my water bottle and coffee flask with drinks rather than serving in disposable cups. Having my own headphones means that I don't have to use their headphones which are packed in a disposable plastic bag. For overnight flights, I bring my own snacks to avoid the individually wrapped snacks that they provide on the flight, and I bring my own wash bag instead of using their free wash bag.
Becoming aware means little things in our lives are going green, and living consciously is a work in progress.
Who are your personal heroes and why?
I am inspired by many. The old lady pushing up her cart of cardboard boxes up Aberdeen street, millennial entrepreneurs with creative sustainable business, unsung hero cleaning up our beaches each weekend, and my parents in their 80s still working. I am most thankful to my rock - Nic, my husband. He encourages me when the problem seems too big, he is my best salesperson, and he makes my daughter and me laugh.