My Shanghai, an Urban Family series where we ask a Shanghai-based somebody to tell us about their life.
The first time Lucie Guyard came to our attention was via her WeChat post about how to make a domestic compost bin. After reading too many lengthy articles on eco-living, her hand drawn illustrations and short witty style of text were refreshing, and we couldn’t stop ourselves from scrolling through her previous articles.
In Lucie’s WeChat account – LaPtiteLu, we seldom find tedious articles demanding we live a greener life. Instead, we see funny conversations from her linear cartoon characters, and advice from her easy-go-green illustrations. The tips are achievable for everyone, things we may not be aware of, or tasks we allow ourselves to think are too difficult to fit into daily life. The simplest examples are saving water by turning off the tap when applying shampoo to your hair or brushing your teeth, or how to say ‘no straw’ in Chinese when ordering a drink.
That’s what LaPtiteLu does so well. For most of us, we acknowledge global warming and other harsh facts about the future of planet earth. However, addressing these issues in a light and relaxed manner, with a touch of French humor, makes this serious topic a lot more engaging. With a fun and positive spin, we are all more likely to be encouraged to take action.
We met Lucie at a café where she asked for her order in a mug (another simple, yet conscious choice), and our conversation unfolded over a cup of coffee.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and LaPtiteLu?
My name is Lucie Guyard. I’m a 33 year old French freelance graphic designer and illustrator. I have been living in Shanghai for seven years. LaPtiteLu means ‘the little lu’ in French, which comes from my first name Lucie. It is also the main character’s name in my comic strip that I have been drawing for many years. At first the comic strips were a hobby, then they became part of my job since I publish them on my official WeChat account.
When did you decide to embark on an eco-living journey?
Like many other people, I didn’t decide to live eco-consciously overnight. It took me a few years with one step at a time. I think the first step was to stop eating meat after attending a lecture five years ago by animal rights activist Gary Yourofsky. It really opened my eyes regarding how badly we treat animals. Then, I stopped using cosmetics that are tested on animals. Little by little I became more interested in ecology and I read many blogs about eco-living. In the beginning I was really discouraged, as I realized the changes we have to make are immense. I have decided to go step-by-step, and although my life is far from strictly zero-waste, I do my best to reduce my personal impact on the planet. Also, joining a big zero-waste community in Shanghai helps, and motivates me to keep making changes.
To get the message across is easy, however, whether readers will follow through and switch to a certain lifestyle is a different matter. Have you ever tried to find out if your readers actually take on your tips?
My purpose is never about forcing or constantly checking if people follow my tips. Whether they decide to make these changes or not is their own choice. I’m trying to give ideas and to raise awareness on sensitive topics that are often seen as boring or preachy. But actually, most feedback I receive on these eco-tips are positive. One reader told me that she refuses to use straws after reading my posts; another reader thanked me for the idea of placing a bucket in the shower to collect water. So, I think some of them do follow the tips, or at least try!
Do you often get comments from your readers?
Yes, I do. It’s interesting to see how different people react. Some share their own tips, some complain that the tips are too hard to follow, others say it’s useless and won’t make any difference and some simply show their gratitude for the ideas.
What do you make of Shanghai's effort in sustainable development?
Honestly, compared with some cities in Europe, Shanghai still has a long way to go. There is no waste selection; everything goes in the same bin and ends up in landfill; shops still use plastic bags; not to mention the fast-developing delivery services from restaurants and online shopping. However, I can see that there are individual efforts, and people are taking the initiative to make their own changes. There are more and more associations and organizations promoting an ecofriendly, zero-waste and vegan lifestyle. Small things are happening now and they will become bigger in the near future.
What advice would you give our readers to help them live a greener life?
There are many things we need to work on in our modern life – disposable merchandise, food waste, water waste, over consumerism, cruelty against animals, just to name a few. Initially, when thinking about all of this, it feels terrible and demotivating. However, the first thing anyone can do is understand that we can say no to this way of life and not be part of it. Anyone can make a difference, every bit counts, no matter how small it is. Once you understand that, it makes things easier. And that would be my first piece of advice to anyone who is considering going green.
You can follow Lucie’s official WeChat account LaPtiteLu by scanning the QR code below.
For more My Shanghai series, click here.