MEET THE FOUNDER:
Founding Member & Head of Marketing and Client Relations at Banyan Workspace
Zoe and family on the Star Ferry in Hong Kong. Photo taken by Lucky Fish Photography
Who says luxury and sustainability can’t coexist? Here at Retykle, we believe that to be true and we know that every small step forward makes a difference in securing and maintaining a cleaner, greener future for our children. With that in mind, we spoke with fellow Retykler and sustainability advocate, Zoe Stevenson, who is a founding member of Banyan Workspace, a boutique co-working office and events venue in Quarry Bay focused on sustainability that proves you don't have to sacrifice comfort and style to be environmentally conscious. Zoe is currently the head of Marketing and Client Relations who has had a passion for environmental protection, conservation, and striving to live a zero-waste life.
We chatted with Zoe and she shared with us the eco lifestyle habits she and her family have adopted, how she got involved with the creation of Banyan Workspace, and what she thinks the future of home/work balance may look like post-COVID.
You were amongst the first to adopt Retykle-ing (thank you!) and have been an advocate for eco lifestyle habits for several years. What led you to make personal lifestyle changes and to become an inspiration to others to adopt greener habits?
We are extremely lucky to live in Clearwater Bay where we are surrounded by the sea and mountains. My eco a-ha moment was when I was walking across the bay with my then 2 year old son and he kept on picking up pieces of trash. In that moment I realised that plastic in the ocean or on the trails was becoming the norm for my children. I decided to take our sustainable lifestyle to the next level and work towards becoming a zero waste family.
A good friend told me to start sharing my eco practices more widely, I think partly so I stopped rabbiting on to her about sustainability all the time! Simple practices that had become obvious to me were not so obvious to others. In Hong Kong any help sourcing through local suppliers and products is super helpful as so many are still hidden gems. I used to think nothing was made in Hong Kong any more but the more you search the more amazing products you find!
What are some eco-friendly habits that you practice with your children?
We question everything we buy. I really try to make them think about how something is packaged and what will happen to that packaging once we have used it. For example sweets and chocolate, they always choose the ones with paper packaging that we can recycle.
Alongside the packaging we also think about where items have come from. I hope my enthusiasm for anything local or pre loved is being passed down to them. My daughter loves to shop at Retykle as well as upcycle her old clothes so I think something is resonating!
What are some of your favourite sustainable clothes brands?
Wherever possible we try to shop for pre-loved clothes so I am a big fan of Retykle for the kids. For my wardrobe my favourites are Hula, the Redress sales, and rummaging through the charity shops whenever I make it back to London.
There are so many amazing clothes to be found! I was recently kindly given a dress from Aspiga who have beautiful, ethically sourced clothes and accessories that are perfect for Hong Kong Summers.
Are there any podcasts, books, or other resources that you recommend for parents who want to learn more about how to raise their children with an eco mindset?
Our absolute favourite book is "The Trouble with Dragons" by Debi Gliori. It is a reminder that we need to live alongside other species on our planet otherwise we will destroy it. We find it’s a good conversation starter too.
Although not 100% focused on sustainability we also love The Week Junior Show podcast. They talk about current affairs, with environmental issues often part of the conversation.
Otherwise I would really say talk about it where ever you can - appreciate nature, everything from the stars at night to the creepy crawlies on the trails. If your children appreciate nature, they will want to save it.
What led you to be a part of the creation of Banyan Workspace?
I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. When my son was 3 years old I began exploring my return to work. I met Amy and Rasheed, the Founders of Banyan Workspace, through Marie at Fleximums when Banyan was just a vague idea. Our values and ideas aligned from our very early conversations. Sustainability and giving back to the local Hong Kong community soon became the building blocks of Banyan Workspace.
The library of Banyan Workspace, Quarry Bay. Photo courtesy of Banyan Workspace.
You are behind Banyan’s recycling program, which is one of the most extensive in Hong Kong’s co-working sector. Can you tell us about this initiative and other eco initiatives at Banyan Workspace?
I work with a small team in Clearwater Bay to organise our local village recycling so knew we could easily make this happen in our space. I have brought the same ideas to the space, as our membership grows our recycling evolves as well. Our whole team are committed to making this a priority for the space. We also compost all of our food waste and coffee grounds with HK Community Composting.
Alongside waste management we are very active in encouraging our members to reduce their waste. We have lunch boxes for our members to borrow and also give every member a reusable coffee cup when they join Banyan.
What are some of the daily habits that you incorporate to your work life to minimise waste?
I bring a packed lunch to work. This also helps us reduce food waste at home too as it’s usually filled with left overs!
What do you think the future of work looks like post-COVID and how can we best prepare ourselves for adapting?
COVID-19 has already changed the way we work with flexible working becoming more accepted, especially as companies begin to see people can still be productive when they are not chained to their desks! I think this change is here to stay.
Although some people are embracing working from home as it gives them the opportunity to do things like have lunch with their children every day, others are struggling. I personally find working from home a challenge and am much happier in the office where I can put 100% into my work and then when I am home I can do the same for my children. As COVID-19 restrictions continue I think more and more of us will see the value of being able to separate work and home.
I would say to prepare for this we all need to make sure we have an alternative workstation set up, whether that is at home or at a co-working space like Banyan Workspace.