Interview by Tong Hour

One of the reasons that I decided to join Plastic Free Cambodia is because I personally am involved in green practices in my daily life, said Ms. Charlotte Muckensturm, the project manager of Plastic Free Cambodia. I use bicycle as my means of transportation. Moreover, I try not to use plastic and take care of my waste. Eating healthy foods, such as vegetable and organic foods, is also a part of my green practices. I have been following these practices since I was living in Paris, she added. It was such a delight to have Ms. Charlotte Muckensturm here at Impact Hub Phnom Penh do a discussion about Plastic Free Cambodia.

What is Plastic Free Cambodia?

Plastic Free Cambodia is a project which aims to increase the awareness of the impacts and damages created by the single-use disposable plastic. It is based in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.

What problem(s) is Plastic Free Cambodia trying to address?

Plastic Free Cambodia is trying to tackle the over-consumption of single-use plastic issue. The single-use plastic has many different forms such as, lunch boxes made of styrofoam, plastic cups and bottles, plastic bags and even straws. We are trying to solve the problem of plastic pollution in the water and the city as it causes different consequences such as, sewage blockage as well as health and environmental problems.

Can you describe the vision of Plastic Free Cambodia?

Our vision focuses on education. We believe that through education, we can change behavior and even inspire young Cambodians to start their own businesses that also create alternatives to plastic, and recycle. We want to inspire them to look at wastes in a different perspective because wastes can also be a resource to a business.

Can you mention some of the projects that Plastic Free Cambodia has brought about?

Recently, we are doing different workshops at different organizations such as Passerelles Numeriques Cambodia (PNC), PSE Cambodia, and Liger Learning Center. We have also cooperated with Peng Pos, which is an online grocery delivery, and Impact Hub Phnom Penh, to do a presentation about social enterprises with the hope to inspire young people with new ideas of business. With Keep Phnom Penh Clean, we are supporting their clean-up projects, as well as cleaning with them, at different locations such as the Russian Market. With another NGO called, Caring for Cambodia, we are showcasing workshops in Siem Reap to different hotel, resorts and restaurants to encourage a more eco-friendly type of business. We also hosted an event called, the Nerd Night, on the 27th of June. On the 24th of June, we conducted a workshop to present our movement with the participation of the public. This workshop was hosted here at Impact Hub Phnom Penh. There is a big event for us in the month of July. We launched our July challenge here at Impact Hub Phnom Penh in early July. This challenge is trying to get people committed to stop using plastic for one month. It is a competition where people will publish their posts on Facebook about their green practices.
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Being a project that aims to solve social issues, is there any organization who supports this project?

Unfortunately, there is neither financial supporter nor technical supporter of Plastic Free Cambodia, however, we are in the process of reaching out to different private sectors. Nevertheless, as a means of receiving monetary compensation, Plastic Free Cambodia is now being paid for the workshops it carries out at different organizations, schools, and private companies.

As the project manager of Plastic Free Cambodia, is there anything to would like to say to Cambodian youth?

First of all, I would like them to keep the love of their country because I can feel that all the young Cambodians really love Cambodia and it is so wonderful. I would also ask them to be confident, to remain optimistic, to have faith in the future and to pay attention to our environment. I hope that young Cambodians will start businesses that help address environmental issues such as plastic use. Moreover, Plastic Free Cambodia is looking for more volunteers who are free during the week to come and make workshops in schools.
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How can we follow up with what your community is and will be doing?

We have our Facebook page, Plastic Free July Cambodia. People can also approach us through email which is, plasticfreephnompenh@gmail.com. We have just launched our official website , where people can also find our videos.
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"First of all, I would like Cambodian youth to keep the love of their country because I can feel that all the young Cambodians really love Cambodia and it is so wonderful. I would also ask them to be confident, to remain optimistic, to have faith in the future and to pay attention to our environment. I hope that young Cambodians will start businesses that help address environmental issues such as plastic use."

Charlotte Muckensturm