Plagued with guilt about all the plastic that comes with shopping? Us too. From cotton swabs to individual pieces of fruit, practically everything is encased in non-biodegradable packaging, no matter how small. Thankfully, these shops are doing their part to protect our planet.
This article was originally published on February 19, 2019 by Samantha Sowerby and updated on April 21, 2022 by Amanda Fung.
1. The Hive Bulk Foods
The first zero-waste store to grace Malaysian waters, The Hive Bulk Foods has two physical outlets in Bangsar and Ampang plus an online platform. Eco-warrior Claire Sancelot joins forces with refugees and female entrepreneurs to craft in-house products such as bamboo toothbrushes and muslin laundry bags. As its name implies, bulk foods are big here; stock up on dried beans, gluten-free flours and ‘naked’ or spiced nuts to last several months. They also offer a wide range of classes on a variety of topics, from ‘DIY Beeswax Wrapping’ to ‘Tropical Urban Edible Gardening’ and are also at the forefront of numerous planet-friendly initiatives like The Freedom Flow Project.
The Hive Bulk Foods Bangsar: 92A, Lorong Maarof, Bangsar Park, Kuala Lumpur | The Hive Bulk Foods Intermark: Lot No. C-01, The Intermark Mall, Jalan Tun Razak, Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur | +603 2202 0707 & +603 2181 2298 | thehiveecostore.com
KitaRefill provides a trifecta of benefits: extend the lifespan of your existing plastic bottles, avoid accumulating more plastic bottles, and save money while you’re at it. Largely stocking liquid solutions, the shop boasts an impressive range of laundry detergents, softeners, mop shines, glass cleaners, disinfectants, car shampoo, pet shampoo, and so on. How it works: Bring your own plastic bottle(s) to be refilled with the said household necessities, and pay by the weight (minus the weight of your receptacle).
KitaRefill | 15, SS20/11, Damansara Kim 47400 Petaling Jaya & KitaRefill Express Lembah Subang, Pusat Dagangan NZX, Jalan PJU 1A/41B, Ara Damansara, Selangor | +6012 245 5480 & +6011 70361068 (Anuar) | kitarefill.com
3. A Bit Less Zero Waste Store
A Bit Less aims to make zero waste a lifestyle that is sustainable and achievable. It is a package-free bulk store that offers staple food, household and personal care products and fresh produce. Most of the food products are natural and organic, both local and imported. If you shop online, all items are packed by its bulk store department and shipped using eco-friendly packaging, reusable and recyclable materials.
A Bit Less Zero Waste Store | No. 17, Jalan Ambong 3, Kepong Baru, 52100 Kuala Lumpur | +603 6243 0723 | WhatsApp: +6010 2311 237 | abitlessbulkstore.com | Thursday-Tuesday, 10am-6pm; Closed Wednesday
4. NUDE, The Zero Waste Store
NUDE is fuelled by a wish to prove that not all businesses are self-serving. Founded by platonic friends Wilson and Cheryl, the zero waste store encourages the community to live by the Japanese principle of ikigai, which conveys "a reason for being". Products such as the biodegradable soaps, shampoo bars, and cloth cotton pads at NUDE can help minimise your carbon footprint.
311A, Jalan 19/29, Seksyen 19, 46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor | +6011 3773 9639 | nudezerowaste.com | Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-7pm
Though the entire store isn't entirely package-free, Qra does offer the option to shop package-free for your pantry staples like almonds and even dish detergent. You can also shop for biodegradable cutlery and grind your own peanut or almond for butter.
Qra | Multiple locations
6. Your local wet markets
Can you eschew the comforts of air-conditioned supermarkets for a greater good? Most produce is presented without plastic packaging at wet markets, making them more eco-friendly than hypermarkets. Simply bring your own tote (choose canvas over cotton to accommodate heavier loads) to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables. Meat, poultry and seafood, on the other hand, can be stored and transported in multiple-use containers or tiffin carriers. As long as you mind your Ps and Qs, most vendors will accommodate your request to use your plastic-free packaging.