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

Buy packaging-free produce from Nude, The Zero Waste Store. (Picture: Nude, The Zero Waste Store Facebook)

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.

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Today let's answer a few frequently asked questions. . 1. Q: Do you only accept glass jars to buy groceries? A: Of course…..NO. We accept jars and containers of any kind. Any shape, any materials. We use to have glass jars, plastic tupperware, bottle, cups, containers, porcelain pot, stainless steel jar…anything you can find at home, use them. . 2. Q: Where are you located? A: We are humbly located at 20, Jalan Ambong 4, Kepong Baru, Kuala Lumpur. Walking distance to KTZ dessert but we doesn't like sweet stuff, so…you dont usually see us there. . 3. Q: What is your business hour? A: We open 6 days a week, close on every Wednesdays. Because we need to recharge to serve you better. . 4. Everytime someone passes b… Q: Is this a cafe? Do you serve coffee and cake? A: We may look like a cafe, but we are not. Because I don't know how to make coffee , sadly =(. We are packageles groceries store! So, we do sell grains, beans, oats, cocoa nibs, sugar, salt, dried mushrooms, nuts, noodles, soy sauce, oils, spices, pastes, teas, fresh vegetables, tofu, detergents, soap, oral cares products and more! They are all naked yo! . 5. Q: What do you do when you have no customers? A: Oh, we eat! We like eating bread, baked tofu, baked nuts, granola, we basically set up #ablkitchen because we love food! . 6. Q: Are you open on 1st May? A: Yes we are open, but we are lazy, so we open from 11am to 4pm on 1st May! . 7. Q: Okay, my turn, anything you wish to ask us? . 今天让我们来回答几个我们最常被问到的问题吧! . 1。問:你们是不是只接受玻璃的罐子或瓶子? 答:当然…不是啊! 任何的瓶瓶罐罐都可以使用啊!任何形狀,任何材質。我們在店里有見過玻璃罐,塑料瓶子,罐子,盒子,杯子,陶瓷的盒子,水壺,茶壺,不鏽鋼的瓶子,基本上就是你家里能找到的容器,就善用它吧。 . 2。問:你們的店在哪裡啊? 答: 我们在20, Jalan Ambong 4, Kepong Baru, 52100 Kuala Lumpur. 这里很靠近甲洞记得食,但是我们不喜欢甜食,所以不常去哦。 . 3。你们几点开,几点关? 答:我们每天有(除了星期三)都有开哦!周日去11点到7点,周末10点到6点!我们休息一天哦,所以才有精力来开店! . 4。每次只要有人经过, 問:你们是cafe?有賣咖啡嗎?蛋糕? 答:雖然我們看起來有點像咖啡廳,但我們不會泡咖啡,所以就沒辦法了!我們是無包裝的雜貨店喔!我們有賣無包裝的米油鹽醬醋茶,及日常洗滌用品,肥皂及對環境友善的產品喔! . 5。問:平時沒客人時,你們都在做什麼呢? 答:我們都在店裡煮東西吃,麵包啊,烤豆腐啊,烤豆子啊,麥片啊!我們很喜歡吃啊,所以我們就把他紀錄起來,變成#ABLKitchen咯! . 6。問:你們五一勞動節有開門嗎? 答:有啊! 但是我們有點懶惰,所以只開11店到4點喲! . 7。問:到我們問你們啦,你有什麼想問我們的嗎?來來來!

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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.

Personal grooming

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.

Style

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.

PohNee Chin
Editor, Kuala Lumpur
Poh Nee is the editor and writes about travel and drinks. When she's not living out her holiday dreams via Google Earth and sipping on an Old Fashioned down at the local bars, you can find her snug at home bingeing on Netflix and mystery fiction.