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Taking Sustainability From the Home Kitchen to the Cambodian Slums

Cambodia is home to 13 million people, 46 percent of whom live in poverty with 100,000 living in slums.

Jean Gong, Senior Manager – Internal Communications and Administration for Kohler Co.’s Asia Pacific region helps to oversee Kohler Co.’s donation of squat toilets to the Habitat for Humanity homes. This simple gesture makes a great impact in an area where 54 percent of the population is practicing open defecation.

“Cambodia residents have seen such turmoil,” Jean said. “But they are so committed to bettering themselves. We’re working with the sons and daughters of the generation who lived through the Cambodian Civil War. I see the bright future possible for this group of young people who are committed to getting an education and creating a better life for themselves and future generations. We want to do whatever we can to support them.”

The Habitat for Humanity homes give residents a fresh start and a chance to get out of the slums. Now one of Kohler Co.’s Global Sustainability Champions, Jean became serious about stewardship and sustainability seven years ago.

“When I learned that we would need three more planet Earths to sustain our current way of life,” Jean said, “that’s when I knew I had to do my part to bring about change.”

Jean carpools to get to her office in Shanghai, China, and uses public transportation or her bicycle as often as she can. She sorts waste at her home and uses grey water, water used for washing vegetables, fruits, etc. to water her flowers and clean her floors.

“I follow the philosophy of reduce, reuse and recycle in my daily life,” Jean remarked. “Because sustainability plays such a big role in my personal life, it’s important for me to bring sustainability to my work.”

Jean is responsible for fostering sustainability and stewardship in the company’s China headquarters. Her main role as manager of employee communication helps her understand the best ways to get employees involved in sustainable practices and stewardship projects.

“I not only manage Kohler China’s stewardship projects and volunteer programs internally but I work with external organizations on Kohler strategies,” Jean said.

In addition to the working on the partnership with Habitat for Humanity and several other initiatives, Jean helps with the Kohler Forest Project, which the company launched in 2010 in conjunction with the China Youth Development Foundation.


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