What were you doing when you were in high school? While for most of us, the answers probably verge on the unprintable, the subject of our latest ‘8Shades Of’ is nothing short of inspirational – teenager Bailey Cherry, founder of second-hand children’s bookstore ReBooked.
We chat to Bailey about what sparked her sustainability journey, get the lowdown on her newest business venture EcoGo and find out what advice she’d give to others who want to make a difference.
1. In one sentence, tell us what you do?
I’m a high-school senior, book lover and youth changemaker. I’m also the founder of a social enterprise called ReBooked, a platform that promotes the reuse of pre-loved children’s books. I guess you can say that I’m surrounded by books most of the day, whether for work or for play!
2. Why are you an 8Shader?
I started becoming more sustainability-conscious around four years ago when I was confronted with a personal – although admittedly first-world! – dilemma of what to do with books that I’d outgrown. I didn’t want to contribute to Hong Kong’s monumental waste problem by throwing them away or even recycling them; instead, I was eager to pass them onto other young readers who would enjoy them as much as I did. I launched ReBooked to make ‘disposing’ of books in a green way more convenient, sharing my love of reading and making second-hand books more accessible.
Starting ReBooked was the first time I became truly aware of the impact of my lifestyle choices. Since launching, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in local eco-friendly fairs and meet the teams behind many local sustainable businesses. With this came an increased consciousness of looking for eco-friendly options. Since then, I’ve become more purposeful about looking for eco-friendly options and supporting sustainability-focused brands.
That being said, actively making the shift to greener brands and products was not necessarily easy! I knew I wanted to live a greener lifestyle, but I didn’t know where to start… and found that my friends felt the same way! This inspired me to begin my next business venture, EcoGo – an app and website that serves as a directory for sustainable stores in Hong Kong. I’m working with a team of other young people based all over Asia to test, develop and launch EcoGo. We all hope that through EcoGo, living a sustainable life will be more attractive, accessible and convenient!
I think sustainable consumption is important because when we buy goods, we vote with our dollar. Although a small change in your shopping habits may not make a huge difference to you, these acts add up. Supporting eco-friendly brands helps them thrive and shows that their green practices and beliefs are valued.
3. What’s your best eco habit – and your guilty not-so green one?
I always bring a refillable water bottle and a reusable tote bag with me. My not-so-green guilty indulgence is taking taxis around the city when I’m running late or in a rush… which is often! I could definitely utilise Hong Kong’s MTR, tram and bus networks more often.
4. Fave eco store?
One of my favourite pastimes wherever I am is thrift shopping for clothes. Here in Hong Kong, I always check the clothes selection at Mee & Gee. I’ve found some amazing treasures there!
5. Fave veggie dishes in Hong Kong?
My favourite vegan dish might just be the Zeus Gyros at Big Dill – a ‘lamb’ wrap filled with veggies, fries and sauces. Another restaurant I love is Veggie4Love, a 50s-themed restaurant in Central that serves vegetarian dishes from around the world.
Also, a quick shoutout to my friend Chandni Sacheti, the founder of Lives Without Knives. She’s the one who introduced me to all my favorite vegan restaurants!
6. What have been your biggest challenges and proudest achievements since starting ReBooked?
Launching ReBooked at the start of Covid meant we had to adjust our business processes as the pandemic situation evolved. While there were some challenges for new businesses like ours, Covid also presented meaningful opportunities to serve our customers by providing reasonably priced book options for families, alongside an online bookstore where parents could shop in the safety of their home.
Last year, we opened our own retail store in Central to complement our online shop; I’m really pleased that ReBooked is now Hong Kong’s biggest platform for second-hand books. I’m also excited that ReBooked has branched out to expand in Brazil and Turkey, and our literacy outreach programmes are in the Philippines too. I’m looking forward to seeing ReBooked’s social impact and presence grow in the years to come.
7. What advice would you give to other young people wanting to make a difference?
Just do it! There’s no such thing as a perfect time, perfect plan or perfect team to start making a difference. A lot of the journey is having passion, being open to trial-and-error and learning along the way.
Another big tip – and something I wish I did more when I started ReBooked – is to ask for help. With help from teammates, mentors, family and friends, you’ll have a much greater impact than you would have just by yourself. Whether you need expert advice from a specialist in the field or just someone to chat and take a break with, support from others is essential not only for the success of your project, but also for your own sense of wellbeing.
8. What shade of green are you?
Being a newbie in this area, I would be a pale mint green. My goal is to progressively work towards being a bright, cheerful lime green or maybe even a deep, sophisticated royal green in the next few years!
NEXT: See all ‘8Shades Of‘ interviews
Sign up for the 8Shades weekly newsletter to get our top stories in your inbox!