A recent United Nations assessment report concluded that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, no thanks to humankind. The world is descending into chaos, and the only way to slow things down and start turning it around is by attempting to live a more zero-waste lifestyle. While we know that it’s not feasible to start reducing your waste down to a fistful size or go dumpster diving, you can do your part by supporting these sustainable Malaysian brands.
How does one begin to live a more sustainable life? Last year’s “no straw” movement should have already given you an idea on how to begin small, but the core idea here is reducing your usage of single-use plastic as much as possible. Our own government had long begun that movement by banning the use of plastic bags. It was first implemented only during the weekends, and later most states in Malaysia moved on to a permanent “no plastic bag” rule seven days a week. However, there are more ways you can go about doing that in all aspects of your life. Allow us to show you how with these local brands.
Grocery & lifestyle shopping
Go into a regular supermarket and everywhere you turn are single-use plastics. From the clear plastic wraps to the plastic trays used to wrap produce, one can easily accumulate single-use plastic in a single shopping trip. But more than plastics, regular supermarkets also tend to sell produce in portions that may be too much for small households and single people. This eventually leads to produce spoiling before they’re able to use it up, and that equals more wastage.
In a bid to reduce waste, small zero-waste grocery stores in KL such as The Hive, Nude, The Zero Waste Store and A Bit Less popped up. Nude, The Zero Waste Store was one of the first zero-waste grocery stores to open in the Klang Valley. Focusing on items that are sold package-free, customers can now buy grains, soaps, laundry detergent, and even pet food according to whatever quantity they like. All they need to do is bring their own containers to store these products.
A Bit Less also has a similar model, selling food items in bulk and package-free so that customers can purchase the amount that they need. Other than bulk food items, A Bit Less also sells eco-friendly lifestyle items including reusable straws, bamboo toothbrushes, and also offer workshops and classes on cooking and living sustainably. Great for people who may not know where to start.
The Hive was also one of the first stores in KL to start selling products in bulk. The brand has grown so much now that it expanded beyond its original shop in Lorong Maarof, Bangsar, and started having pop-up stores in various shopping malls including Pavilion KL and The Starling Mall. Beyond bulk food items, they also sell other lifestyle products such as reusable sanitary pads, menstrual cups, reusable facial cotton pads, and more.
When it comes to eco-friendly, sustainable beauty brands, they are a dime a dozen. You’ll be glad to know that there are more brands to choose from, especially local ones. The Olive Tree is one of them — vegan, biodegradable, and using all-natural plant-based ingredients from Australia. All your personal grooming needs can be found here, from delicious soap bars for the face and body to shampoos, body lotion, body scrubs, and essential oils. Another local grooming brand to turn to is Lave Republic, specialising in hair and body care in the form of soap bars. That’s right, everything is in its most solid form — except the scrubs. There are shampoo bars, soap bars, and lotion bars. You can even get a tin packaging to carry your bars with you when you travel.
Local sustainable clothing brands are few and far between. Hunting them down can prove even more difficult. Luckily, there are stores like Real.m that source clothing items from local designers that champion sustainable fashion. Not only are they green (for the environment, not the colour), they are also quite stylish. Within Real.m are brands such as O.Lanun and The Little Clothing Shop. The store retails items such as towels, blankets and throws, breezy womenswear and menswear, and sustainable swimwear too. Bonus: Real.m donates RM 1 of each sale to Tropical Rainforest Conservation & Research Centre (TRCRC) in support of rainforest conservation.
Japan has Muji, but we have MUNI — a local brand that uses botanical dye for its fabric. Founder Munir Osman gets his fabric dye from local tropical plants including sappan wood, gambier, and catappa leaves. From these fabrics, Munir designs tote bags, T-shirts, cushion covers, and scarves out of them. Even his studio is fashioned out of restored wood to add on to the sustainability appeal.