Kheng grew up around 70kms, north of Siem Reap, for his high school he had to move to Siem Reap, where he later went to university to study English literature.
His professional career has begun in hospitality learning about customer service and restaurant manager and now the manager of a very successful Siem Reap restaurant, New Leaf Eatery. New Leaf follows an environmental and socially responsible model, they use no plastic for their customers and profits from the restaurant are shared amongst staff and also donated to local projects.
It was earlier this year when his university studies came to an end that he sought to do something more, to volunteer and learn about the work of Plastic Free Cambodia.
Kheng had met Sarah, PFC Founder, during the time she worked for responsible tourism NGO, Concert, who happened to have their office in the upper level of the New Leaf building. He approached Sarah and offered to volunteer at PFC. The timing was perfect, two more staff from another environmental organisation had just begun helping part-time for the short term mission of PFC’s Plastic Free July campaign. The four began to develop the July program and work on other educational programs and contracts of PFC.
Now in August after a successful campaign, PFC have hired Kheng as their first permanent part-time staff member.
Kheng really enjoys his work with PFC, he usually spends his free time to interview local people who work at restaurants, hotels and schools about how to reduce plastic and also teaches them how take care of the environment and their health. His main goal is to teach Cambodian people how to reduce or reuse plastic. “It seems like to be easy to teach people not to use plastic but of course not, everywhere people like using plastic and they don’t really want to learn because they think that we cannot stop using plastic. For my job is to teach them how to stop using plastic” said Kheng. “Funny thing for me, it is hard like I am trying to teach children how to stop loving their parents. Haha, in Cambodia, people want to use plastic every time when they buy stuff from the market. Anyway, I don’t give my job up I am still trying to find some other solutions for them”.
Kheng really loves to work with PFC. He mostly spends his free time to join clean up temple town with local NGOs in Siem Reap every month. And he usually has great ideas for environment.
Since he has known Sarah, PFC Founder, he has learned a lot of things about plastic problems. Nowadays he tries to teach his family how to reduce plastic. At his house he bought some containers, baskets and recycle bags for shopping. He always refuses to take any plastic bags from the market or sellers. He also changed some bad habits at his work place from using plastic to use bio bags (made from plant) and he encourages staff to create more newspaper bags for book purchases and take away food. In addition, he bought containers for staff meals because the staff were always bringing at least 5 plastic bags from market every day for their meal break. In July he asked his boss to buy Bio Bottle for New Leaf staff so now all staff get one bottle each. “To sum up, at New Leaf we mostly use Plastic Free for drinks and take away boxes.” explained Kheng.
“Thanks to Plastic Free Cambodia and Sarah I’ve changed my daily bad habit and now choose my own choice I don’t buy any bottle of water but I choose to carry my own bottle everywhere and also small container in my bag. I will carry on this work as long as I could and I also want to see other people change bad habit of using a lot of plastic to reduce it until become plastic free. Nowadays, I use my experience to teach some other local NGOs about plastic topic and encourage them not to use plastic and also find some solution for them” said Kheng.
“I expect that few more years, people will care about environment and try to use less plastic“.