Armed with legal training and a tenacious drive for environmental protection, the entrepreneur and activist is on a mission to save our planet from plastic pollution in the race against climate change.
Top: Sandro Paris. Earrings: Abe's own. Hair colour: IGORA by Schwarzkopf Professional.
Sustainability seems to be the all-pervading trend across the biggest industries right now. Scratch that—it's no longer a trend; it's a glaring necessity. But how many 27-year-olds do you know who are leading a business that repurposes plastic waste into artistic products, or negotiating climate change policies at international conferences? That's Abe Lim for you.

As we sit down for our interview at a local café, she tactfully questions the establishment's use of plastic takeaway cups for dine-in customers. Out of habit, she whips out her reusable cup and offers it to the barista instead. I commend her commitment to avoiding single-use plastic, to which she replies astutely, "Actually, it would make more sense cost-wise if they used regular mugs, not just for the sake of the environment."

Abe (pronounced ab-ee) would know this first-hand from her days of running F&B ventures before the pandemic hit. In fact, she is not your "tree-hugger" archetype of an environmental activist. Having dabbled in diverse fields of interest before graduating in law, she is now bent on changing the narrative on plastic waste and environmental protection through a dynamic, multifocal perspective.

In her own words: "I believe in the power of collective action and collaboration to drive positive change, while also having fun by merging my interests." Here's how our June cover star is walking the talk.
Top and trousers: Emporio Armani. Earrings and bracelet: Swarovski. Hair colour: IGORA by Schwarzkopf Professional.
"Growing up with my dad running a petrochemical business, I have had first-hand exposure to the complexities of the industry and its impact on the environment. It sparked a desire within me to find sustainable solutions," Abe says, diving headfirst into how her green journey began. "My mum, with her emphasis on giving back, instilled in me a sense of responsibility and the value of making a positive difference in the world."

She walked a mile in both shoes—joining her dad's company and devising strategies to grow the business, while participating in charity events and community clean-ups with her mum on the side. Inheriting one's tools of the trade and the other's action-inducing empathy, she quickly learned the importance of balance and finding common ground. "I understand the concerns of businesses and the need for economic growth, but I also recognise the urgency of addressing climate change and preserving our planet for future generations," she divulges.

So, what was the catalyst that drove her to the point of activism? "Ultimately, it was during the pandemic when everyone had a moment to pause and reflect on what truly matters and what is merely materialistic that the significance of environmental protection resonated with me," she reveals after a moment of contemplation.
The mundane days of Covid-19 lockdown opened her eyes to the natural beauty of her hometown in Ipoh, which she had previously taken for granted. One fateful encounter, in particular, with a Sainsbury's plastic bag drifting through the wind (much like the opening lyrics of Katy Perry's Firework) led her down the rabbit hole of plastic research. "Sainsbury's isn't even available in Malaysia so I was wondering how it got here," she comments.

Thus, she launched herself into watching documentaries and reading reports on plastic import and waste. What she discovered could not be ignored in good conscience—and Abe is definitely not one to do things half-heartedly. There's unmistakable gravity in her words as she goes on: "My urgency to combat plastic pollution, as well as conserve caves and karst formations, stems from the fact that these issues directly impact my hometown. When you recognise your ability to create an impact, taking action becomes instinctual. You simply just do it."
Top: Sandro Paris. Earrings: Swarovski. Hair colour: IGORA by Schwarzkopf Professional.
While Abe now spends most of her spare time on her "personal passion project", #Earth999—an organisation working on the conservation of caves and karsts in Ipoh—she is foremostly known as the CEO of Purpose Plastics. Born during the pandemic, the plastic waste management company is driven by the mission to tackle plastic pollution head-on. It focuses on the 91 per cent of plastics that are currently non-recyclable. This includes multilayer packaging, plastic films, and other complex plastic materials that are typically destined for landfills or incineration.

By incorporating these non-recyclable plastics into resin-based products such as coasters, candle holders, and decorative items, Purpose Plastics prevents them from becoming microplastics that can harm ecosystems and waterways. Her favourite piece from the collection so far? "Definitely the mahjong tiles!" she laughs.
Dress: Maje. Earrings and bracelet: Swarovski. Hair colour: IGORA by Schwarzkopf Professional.
Make no mistake, Abe isn't out to get rid of plastics altogether. "The name emphasises the need for plastics to have a clear and meaningful purpose," she clarifies. "It challenges the perception of plastic as wasteful by promoting the idea that plastics can be purposeful, sustainable, and have a positive impact on both the environment and society." A moment later, she blushes and tells me the inspiration behind the moniker: Justin Bieber's Purpose album. "During a period of personal transformation in his life, the album served as a catalyst for positive change. It symbolised the importance of finding purpose in one's actions," she gushes.

The real problem, then, is where plastics end up. There are limitless ways to give them a new lease of life outside of dumping grounds, and Purpose Plastics will unreservedly collaborate with and empower others with the tools to do so. "Our ultimate goal is to create a world where plastic waste is minimised, and the environment is protected. We aim to be a catalyst for change, driving the transition towards a circular economy and a sustainable future," she says.
Creative ventures aside, Abe's legal training comes into force in her role as the co-chair for Client Earth's Next Generation Board. For context, the environmental law organisation protects and restores the environment through the power of the law, targeting issues such as climate change, biodiversity, and pollution.

"I work closely with a team of passionate individuals on strategic planning, policy development, and fundraising efforts to support Client Earth's mission and objectives," she elaborates. Her past experience spans from a United Nations assignment in Nairobi to draft the Global Plastics Treaty in February 2022, to a series of climate litigations across Europe and the United Kingdom. Closer to home, she also organises outreach activities and campaigns to raise awareness about environmental issues, empower communities through legal frameworks, and provide judicial training for judges and prosecutors throughout Southeast Asia.
As she passionately expands on the list (yes, there's actually a lot more to it), I can't help but wonder how she has accomplished so much in just a few years. Not to forget, she was also a spokesperson for COP26 (a United Nations climate change conference) and a speaker at the World Youth Assembly in Geneva last year. "I move fast when I have a vision in my mind," she lets on with a gentle smile. "Even when I was a kid, I was told to slow down and focus, but I've always been tempted to try everything at least once." And you'd best believe she's not slowing down anytime soon.
Hair colour: IGORA by Schwarzkopf Professional.
Wrapping up what has turned out to be a 90-minute interview (though it didn't feel like it, thanks to Abe's infectious enthusiasm), I ask her what she considers her greatest feat yet. "I am proud of all the milestones I have achieved and I consider each one important in its own right," she shares. "It is the collective impact of these achievements that propels us forward and inspires others to join the global effort to protect our environment. Only by working together can we create a ripple effect that brings about meaningful change."

Whether it's avoiding single-use plastic, participating in community initiatives, supporting sustainable businesses and causes, or sharing personal sustainable practices on social media to inspire others, Abe believes everyone can—and should—contribute to a greener and more sustainable future for our planet.

She concludes with a love note to Mother Earth: "Please hang on and wait for us. Have faith in our endeavours. Sorry we screwed up, but we are striving to make this world a better place for the generations to come." If there are more of us like Abe, perhaps there's hope yet.
Crop top and skirt: Sandro Paris. Earrings: Swarovski. Hair colour: IGORA by Schwarzkopf Professional.
Editor-in-chief / Sarah Hani Jamil
Text & styling / NATALIE KHOO
CREATIVE DIRECTION & layout design / Sarah Tai
Videography / Dennis Kho ASSISTED BY EMEST LEE
HAIR COLOURING / Siao Yan using IGORA by Schwarzkopf Professional | H Art Concept