Live Zero helps Hongkongers achieve zero-waste lifestyle

Live Zero, thought to be Hong Kong’s first zero-waste grocery store, has now been trading four months in Sai Ying Pun. And already its founder is planning expansion.

The concept was launched to try to inspire Hongkongers to shun plastic packaging and reduce waste generally.

Tamsin Thornburrow was just 22 when she launched her first retail business, home decor store Thorn and Burrow, which trades on the first floor of 30 High Street, Sai Ying Pun and online. Live Zero is a few doors down at number 24.

Live Zero founder Tamsin Thornburrow

Thornburrow told HKTDC’s Hong Kong Means Business magazine (HKMB) that she had always tried to be environmentally friendly, but early last year became increasingly aware of the plastic epidemic taking over the world’s oceans and of the issue of waste in Hong Kong.

“I realised that a huge amount of waste comes from the unnecessary packaging surrounding food, and I struggled to find a solution. I was inspired to create Live Zero – a store where the Hong Kong community could find organic, healthy food at an affordable price and most importantly, without all the packaging.”

Thornburrow has described on Facebook how Hong Kong’s retail industry is tough, but she told HKMB the response to the store has been overwhelmingly positive, surpassing all her expectations.

“The Hong Kong community was definitely ready for a zero-waste grocery option and our customers are all enthusiastic about reducing their waste consumption. Our most popular products are the pantry staples – items like quinoa, rice and oats. The cleaning products and toiletries are also popular, as customers are able to fill up their old containers instead of constantly repurchasing toiletries in plastic containers.”

Live Zero outside

Customers’ journeys

She says Live Zero’s customers range from people just starting out on their zero-waste journey to people who have been living ‘zero waste’ for years.

“Many of our regular customers live in Sai Ying Pun, although we have local and expatriate customers from all around Hong Kong.”

The main initial challenge launching the store was sourcing all its food in bulk, rather than prepackaged.

“Now it’s storing all the food correctly, especially [with] Hong Kong’s humidity. Another challenge is restocking – it’s super labour intensive, especially when we are such a small team.”

Thornburrow says she wants to open in more locations so that zero-waste grocery shopping is more accessible to everyone in Hong Kong.

“We also hope to run a blog and continue to raise awareness of zero waste living on social media.”

Live zero ingredients

Live Zero stocks more than 50 spices and herbs and customers are encouraged to bring their own jars to refill. There is even a donation program where people can drop off glass jars for people to take and use again.

Live Zero free jars

The store is open daily, from 11am to 8pm, except on Sundays when it closes at 6pm.

There is also a Live Zero pop-up shop at PMQ on Aberdeen Street, Central, selling only lifestyle products, not food.

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