From our Hot Seat series.
Joakim Cimmerbeck is the owner of éico, a paint company with a difference: its top-quality, long-lasting paints are created with pure acrylics using eco-friendly processes. He tells The Loop HK how we can all live a more eco-friendly lifestyle too.
Formerly a banker in his native Sweden, Cimmerbeck started becoming more aware of environmental issues when he moved from the Swedish countryside to the hectic city of London. After starting a family, he became even more concerned about taking care of the planet for his children and the rest of the future generations, which inspired him to launch éico in 2009. He decided to dedicate his attention to it full-time upon moving to Hong Kong, opening a branch here in 2012.
Human beings are hoarders. One thing we’re very good at is overconsumption, massive overconsumption. Businesses have trained us to think we need to replace things — that they’re not meant to last and that we’re meant to throw them out. But we can actually do a lot more with a lot less. We can reuse the things we have. If you’re buying a new table, ask yourself: do you need to? Or can you update your current one? You could put on another top, paint it, bleach or stain the wood. Besides being cost-effective, it’s also quite fun and interesting to change.
If you ask us for 15 liters of paint, we will probably only give you 10. Normally, a paint company will say, you want 15 liters? Here you go. But you’ll usually end up with three to four liters left, and then throw it away a couple of years later. Instead, we give you 10 liters. If you end up needing more, we’ll give you more. You pay less money, and there’s less waste; you save money, we save the planet. There’s no value in having paint left over. No one benefits from it.
We don’t pre-define our colors. None of them are ready made, we make them for you. We like colors, and we want to promote colors. If you have your own unique color and you really like it, it’s more likely that you won’t repaint your walls, so it becomes a sustainable factor.
Many companies say they’re “sustainable” and “environmentally friendly”, but if you have a paint factory in China — or anywhere in most countries in Asia — you use a lot of water to make paint when these areas are short on water. Technically, you’re using a resource we haven’t got enough of. We put our factories in Iceland and Sweden for many reasons: one is because we have access to water, and another is because we can produce paint without using fossil fuels.
We are so gullible. Too gullible. We need to question things. Don’t take the salesperson’s word for it, do your own research. We make many big decisions based on what commercials say when we redo our homes.
All these little things in isolation might not have great impact in our lives or on sustainability, but sustainability is more a movement or a way of life. You have to embrace the little things. All of us doing these things makes a massive difference.