Malaysia’s First Zero Waste Fest 23rd Dec 2017


Walking into Slate at the Row in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday felt like one has travelled back to the seventies as there were no sign of plastics but reusable jars and cloth bags. The place was transformed into a convivial market place by passionate environmental friendly crowd who gathered here to celebrate the Malaysia First Zero Waste Fest  organised by Zero Waste Malaysia (“ZWM”).

It is indisputable that the organisers have demonstrated what they preach, that is to live sustainably with zero waste lifestyle. There was no sign of trash bins, plastic carriers, banners, disposable and other single use items that are usually massively used in carnival events. Instead, these items were replaced with reusable and upcycled items. The big flag of ZWM’s logo itself was originally a bed sheet.

Though it was held at the long Christmas weekend (23rd Dec 2017) when it is common for most urbanites to be away, the carnival was swamped with a huge crowd, with approximately 1,000 people in attendance. Noted that there were also volunteers, who came from the southern and northern states to support this event, it was done with the sole purpose to create awareness about sustainable living.

Producing no trash or less trash in our daily life may sound impossible to many but once practised will lead to a happier and healthy lifestyle. Having Bea Johnson, the Founder of Global Zero Waste Movement to be the keynote speaker, was indeed the perfect choice to add zest to this event. Bea has lived with a zero waste lifestyle with her husband and two teenage sons in the past 10 years. The total trash in a year created by this eco-friendly family of 4 could be fitted into a mason jar. In the one-hour sharing, Bea shared that her family was able to do so by following her five Rs of sustainable living that she has advocated in the following order:

  • REFUSE what you do not need

  • REDUCE what you do need

  • REUSE by buying second hand, and swapping disposables for reusable alternatives

  • RECYCLE what you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse

  • ROT (compost the rest)

“Of course at first it takes time to find a system that works for you but then once you have that system, all you will regret is you did not start earlier.” quoted the Zero Waste Guru, Bea Johnson.

While one may not be convinced with the above statement, the so called market place where the carnival was held is good proof that sourcing for packaging free and reusable products is doable.

There were fifteen vendors in the market place of the carnival. There was more than 100 zero waste products sold, from general groceries such as bulk rice, fruit jam, toiletries to personal care products like silk dental floss, cloth menstrual pads and makeup remover cloths. This is doubtlessly a heaven to zero wasters who often seek high and low for packaging free items.

Once our eco-friendly shoppers are back to their daily life, things may not come so handy. Nonetheless the launching of the first Zero Waste Map  by Zero Waste Malaysia would be a great help. There are about 300 pins cited in the application, which includes shops for groceries and toiletries with bulk buy, recycling centres, composting sites to drop off kitchen waste and etc. Living a zero waste lifestyle requires commitment to start with as you would need to make changes for a sustainable lifestyle. This map would be crucial for those who like to start building up the feasible system which works for them.

“I am amazed by the simplicity of the zero waste bath room and kitchen. It seems I can really live with less.” cited Emily Tan, a visitor from Setapak, about the mini exhibition of zero waste home.

The founder of ZWM, Aurora Tin attributed the success of the event to Bea Johnson, sponsors, partners, community members and the group of volunteers.

“It is surreal to me that we had successfully organised a day-long event with Zero Waste. The huge crowd turned up today shown a strong movement is happening in Malaysia. The Zero Waste community and businesses is now mature and ready to welcome all Malaysians to join us.” cited Aurora Tin.

ZWM is a non-profit group run by volunteers. It was founded with the vision to create educational and resources zero waste living platforms for the community. All profit generated at the event would be channelled to support future zero waste movements.

For more information please kindly contact Aurora Tin or Sue Yee Khor at