The time has come for us to make a serious effort to reduce our carbon footprint, stop using plastic (straws, single use plastic bags) and try and follow the 5Rs—Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.
It won’t be easy as most of us have only recently become aware of the damage decades of plastic pollution, agriculture, rearing animals for meat, fast fashion and using fossil fuels has caused. We could sit back and think climate change isn’t real or that using plastic straws and bags doesn’t do that much harm, but it does!
One of the easiest ways to cut back on waste is to shop at zero-waste and bulk shops.
This ‘waste free grocery revolution’ aims to eliminate all unnecessary disposable packaging, offer bulk options so you buy what you need, support local and smaller farmers and producers, sell reusable and plastic-free items to replace what we usually use (sanitary napkins, toothbrushes, make-up remover pads) and to encourage consumers to buy organic products. It’s also important to note that some of these products are made by NGOs, women’s groups and co-ops, providing valuable work and income for those in need.
Check out these zero waste shopping options in Kuala Lumpur and remember, that by even switching from cotton wool to reusable make-up pads or reusing your old jars to buy and store pantry staples, you really are making a difference and saving money in the long run.
By now many of you would have heard of Claire Sancelot. She is a ferocious proponent of the zero waste movement and is as passionate about her shops and products as she is about educating everyone about the importance of living sustainably. The Hive has two locations Bangsar and Ampang and was a pioneer in the bulk food, sustainable grocery shopping scene.
The idea of bulk food is slowly catching on as more people realise how much food waste there is when buying pre-packaged goods at the supermarket. For convenience, The Hive offers delivery for online shopping and has regular classes to learn how to make your own beeswax wraps and beauty products, and urban gardening.
Bliss Zero Waste Store
Photo: Malay Mail
Sharing space with the Mingle Café in Chinatown, Bliss was opened by Loke Poh Lin in the middle of last year with the aim of introducing zero waste products, educating the general public about being less wasteful and developing the habit of sustainable purchasing.
This shop offers home and personal care products from laundry detergents and bathroom cleaners to soap bars (for hair and body) and shampoo. Everything is sourced locally, is biodegradable and there is also a plant-based range suitable for sensitive skin. There are also classes available from beeswax wrap making to learning how to repair your clothes—very practical!
What to buy: Laundry and dishwashing detergent, soap bars, shower gel, shampoo, bathroom cleaners, beeswax wraps
NUDE The Zero Waste Store
Located in Petaling Jaya, NUDE was started by Cheryl and Wilson who realised that business doesn’t always have to be profit driven and wanted to make a positive impact on reducing the real problem of plastic pollution.
The shop stocks a wide selection of pantry essentials from rice to seasoning, pet food, household cleaners, personal care items and skincare. The owners are often on hand to have a chat and explain the products. Prices are kept reasonable to encourage people to take the bulk buying, zero waste shopping path.
What to buy: Dog and cat treats, insect repellent, cereals, biscuits, dried fruit, spices, rice, condiments and seasoning
A Bit Less Bulk Store
Photo: A Bit Less Bulk Store
The store’s mantra is to eliminate single-use plastic packaging and just as importantly, to create a community intent on respecting the environment through conscious consumption. The owners realised that the epidemic of plastic waste had to be dealt with and the idea to open A Bit Less came about.
This one-stop shop has everything a home needs to be sustainable and zero waste including Foodies With Love pasta (made by a local mum and containing 11 types of vegetables), legumes and seeds, dried mushrooms, soy chunks, seasoning, spices, nuts and tea. For Chinese New Year, they are also selling reusable ang pao packets handmade by the Dignity for Children Foundation, an NGO providing care for children below the poverty line.
Recently opened at The Linc in the city centre, Frangipani Bulk is the brainchild of French Moroccan Malika, who began her zero waste journey in 2015 and decided to stop using single use plastic products. Products here are separated according to use, e.g. work, bathroom, kitchen and travel.
An interesting item here is the Zero Waste Starter Kit comprising a bamboo toothbrush, organic solid toothpaste, bamboo cloth wipes, loofah, spork, produce bags and a beeswax wrap in a reusable glass jar—makes for a great gift. Other products include organic essential oils, feminine care, soap bars, silicon snack bags and bamboo cutlery sets. Delivery is available in Malaysia and Singapore.
Remember to bring your own shopping bags and containers—an important principle of being zero waste!
Header image credit: A Bit Less Bulk Store