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Every individual should have the privilege to live a more sustainable life.

You probably know by now that Zero Waste Malaysia (ZWM) is one of the fastest growing non-profit organisations in Malaysia with a large following both offline and online. 
 
So what sparked this idea and why did it manifest in such a way that it grew to be as big as they are today and how did it even began? We sat down with the Co-Founder and CEO of Zero Waste Malaysia, Sue Yee Khor and asked her about her inspiration behind the movement and her thoughts on how local Malaysians can also contribute to big changes in the smallest ways.
 
The first thing we asked her was what is ZWM, what do they do and how they do it. The answer is rather simple, yet it’s apt and very telling that she wants to make a change in more ways than one. So, what is ZWM? It essentially is a non-profit organisation that was started back in 2016 by a group of like-minded people aiming to create awareness on sustainable living. 
 
What started out as a small Facebook group to teach and create a local community around zero waste lifestyle in Malaysia has now grown to become a behemoth platform with a base of almost 30,000 people. The large interest generated on Facebook alone is most likely attributed to the pressing waste issue in our country. No joke, it’s a big problem indeed. 
 
On the ZWM website there is a map, not just any other map, but a specialised map focused on zero waste facilities crowd-sourced by the community after many recommendations. The map was first started because no one knew where to buy package-less products or refill their materials. The data from the many recommended stores were then changed into pins on a Google maps application. It is done so that anyone can simply log on and look for the nearest store that caters to their zero waste needs. The map is updated every time a company opens their doors and that subscribes to the ethos of zero waste. The map has advanced functions that actually has a system of categorising businesses; a 10-category system covers everything, from bulk-buys to community composting. 
 
Anyone Can Join the Movement
 
According to Sue Yee, everyone should have access to sustainable living and the privilege to live a greener, less-waste lifestyle. The Zero Waste Map promotes Circular Economy practices by highlighting services which offer package-less products and refillable products such as shampoos and soaps. The map also promotes local businesses and services that have adopted zero waste practices which, for example, eliminates the need to purchase single-use plastic products. 
 
Another great example of this is offering everyone the ability to compost. Access to composting is quite scarce in big and densely populated cities such as Kuala Lumpur; it is a fantastic initiative that the Zero Waste Map has a category for communal composting, curated by its users and a laudable, effort in moving Malaysia towards a more sustainable and greener future. 
A Success In All Aspects
 
On the 22nd of June, ZWM had their second Zero Waste Festival and it was a success in all aspects of the event. It definitely was a huge step up from their first festival back in 2017; the reach for the festival grew due to the amount of media attention brought by the Zero Waste Movement Founder, Bea Johnson. The movement in Malaysia got more traction and blew up when people started to be more interested, especially after the first event happened. The second festival took place at The Linc, Kuala Lumpur and solely focused on the sustainability of businesses such as the food and beverage industry, hotels and hostels as well as corporations. The event consisted of forums and showcases that featured businesses that have sustainable management, service industries that maintain a low waste office environment, local cacao planters that promote better and more sustainable local chocolate compared to imported ones and many more exciting local, green initiatives
 
This year ZWM also featured regional South East Asian zero waste movements to be a part of the event, with the aim of gaining a better understanding for each other’s environment moving forward and to make global links in the Zero Waste Movement and Circular Economy practices.
Circularity in Zero Waste
 
There was also a sharing session where our very own Nicholas Sheum spoke at, on the topic of Introduction to Open Source and Circular Economy (a little plug here and there, yeah we’re slick about it). The panelists for the sharing session featured people from different walks of life to share their experiences and points of view to further prove that individuals have the power to make small changes into something huge and ground breaking. There were also panelists from business backgrounds that have sustainable business plans that opt in circular economic practices that were highlighted in the Zero Waste Map.
 
One of the many things that happened at the Zero Waste Festival this year was the showcase that highlighted the 22 vendors that provide both services that are in line with the practices and pillars of living a zero or less waste lifestyle and solutions for businesses that want to adopt this movement into their business DNA. The showcase tackled everything from restaurant waste management to providing zero waste services to households and businesses. It further supported the local economy by highlighting local sustainable farmers for a better and more sustainable crop cycle in Malaysia.
Plans for the Future

The final question we asked her was “Where do you see the future of Zero Waste Malaysia movement heading to?” Working alongside the government was the answer. Sue Yee stated that legislative backing and proper implementation of incentives for individuals and corporations to take action in  support of zero waste management is imperative. ZWM wants to bring more awareness on climate change and living a more sustainable lifestyle. A smoother implementation of legislative action is integral to making zero waste movement more mainstream.