We all want to be kind to the planet. But how? We had an interview with Ms Cheryl Anne Low, co-owner and co-founder of eco-shop NUDE The Zero Waste Store. Have a look here at her insights on how to be an eco-warrior!
How did you come up with the idea to start this business?
A few years ago, I stumbled upon the video of the plastic straw being removed from the turtle’s nose. As a scuba diver, and having being underwater with these magnificent & peaceful creatures, watching the turtle writhe and cry in pain broke my heart. I went on a fact-finding mission and read up as much as I could to find out what could have caused the plastic straw to end up in the oceans and harming these innocent creatures. There are many possible explanations; from wind blowing trash into the oceans from the landfills, to illegal dumping of rubbish into the oceans.
I then started my plastic-free journey, and I looked for shops to find them scattered everywhere that sold items sans packaging in loose form. I actively seeked out those kinds of shops out, made notes on what is sold plastic-free, and at which locations. My fiance who saw how tired I was from going to so many places, came up with the idea and said: “Instead of just sharing it on social media, why not take it bigger? Let’s open a shop!”
So we got together with some friends, Wilson and Sam, who are also now our business partners, and together, we opened NUDE.
Tell us what NUDE is about?
NUDE is our attempt at increasing the awareness of being conscious of our habits, that everything we do affects others. About where discarded trash can possibly end up. To educate and learn that not everything is recyclable, and that some ingredients can cause harm when washed down the waterways.
Personally, zero waste is also about protecting our oceans. The oceans are a huge source of resource (half the earth’s oxygen is produced by coral reefs), which is why the seas and oceans are so important to all of us. Also, plastic breaks down into microplastics which is ingested by fish, which ends up coming back to us in the fish on our plates. All this has to stop. The more people are aware, the more they will do to reduce their waste.
How do you create awareness?
There are four ways we try to increase awareness:
- By educating people that our habits can possibly cause detriment to the animals and to the planet if we are not conscious about it. This inevitably comes back to harm us. What kind of planet do we want to pass on to our future generations?
Trash that accumulates in landfills ends up combining with other rubbish, which emits dangerous gases and contribute to climate change. Not to mention the possible choking hazard of small bits of unrecyclable trash when exposed to an animal, or marine life.
- By educating as many people as possible to go ‘zero waste’. Ask yourself: “Do we really need that brand-new lunchbox?” Why not just reuse an existing container or a jar? We’re trying to bust the myth that zero waste is expensive, and it is only as expensive as you make it to be.
Zero waste is about reusing what you already have. For example by converting that used pasta jar into a food/juice carrier, or bringing utensils from home to food truck parks to use to avoid disposables. Buying and using only what you need eventually translates to overall lower consumption. Zero waste saves money, when applied the right way.
- To instill responsible habits within our customers. Zero waste is about more than going ‘zero’. The reality is, that we unknowingly create waste daily, from electricity to water to packaging.
Simple things like leaving your engine running or leaving the tap on while brushing your teeth, is a waste of resources. Packaging for instance, where a lot of resources have been used in producing a simple wrapper/plastic bag, only to have it thrown away after a few minutes of use is so wasteful. The current use-and-throw-away behaviour is tied back to convenience. So much is handed to us on a platter to make life easier, that there is no thought behind throwing things away. This must change.
- By influencing the supply chain to use swappable and refillable packaging and being responsible for every single piece of plastic that enters NUDE.
We want to change all that. Change mindsets, change behaviours and change habits.
We ensure that every packaging from the imported food section is reused or recycled, and also, that the ingredients used in the products from our vendors are safe for humans and to the animals. We sample and try everything first for quality and taste, we dive into the ingredients list, we discuss and negotiate swappable packaging with suppliers, and most of our display jars are filled directly by them.
Stock is filled directly from their containers into our jars in NUDE. If the item is a sensitive product that needs to be packaged, all our suppliers accept returns of empties to be put back into production after sanitizing, or they are recycled. Customers are incentivised for this, by receiving a rebate for their returns. Circular economy is the best way to go.
Are KL-ites becoming more eco-friendly and eco-aware?
Most definitely. People are becoming increasingly aware and they have started asking more questions, which eventually led them to us either from an article or from friends. At NUDE, we discuss the challenges they face, and together, we try to come up with a solution. There is no one-size-fits-all as everyone is different with different habits, different lifestyles and different consumptions.
What’s your best-selling product?
In this current covid climate, our best sellers are our cleaning products like refillable handwash and laundry detergents and essential food items like rice, oats, pastas, and raw ingredients. The all-natural insect repellents by Gramp’s (proudly Malaysian) are also one of our top sellers, as they contain no chemicals, is food-grade and safer for homes with children and pets.
We do not impose a minimum purchase, so everyone is free to buy as little as they need. This means no waste. We try to carry as wide a variety of offerings as possible. We engage and interact with our customers (many have become friends) and we are always listening.
What is your number one tip for your customers to become more eco-friendly?
- Reuse what you have. Get creative with existing items that you find in your home. Or raid your mother’s cabinets to reuse her old jars (this is what I do! Haha!).
- Buy with purpose – buy only what you need.
- Always read the label with ingredients – be aware of what you’re consuming, what you’re applying on your skin and what is being washed down the waterways. A quick google check usually does the trick. At NUDE, we do all that for you, and we ensure that everything that we carry does no harm.
Do you sell online, or can we buy your products in-store only?
We sell in-store only. You can also make arrangements for delivery and pick up. Just communicate with us at 011 3773 9639 or contact us through our FB page here. Zero waste is not meant to be achieving zero, but the steps that you can take in being more conscious of your consumption, giving more value to your usage, and reducing your disposable waste. When in doubt, think reusable. Move away from single-use, and move towards reuse! What are you waiting for? Time to kickstart your zero-waste journey!
Where can we find you?
We’re located in PJ, seksyen 19. Click here to find the location to the NUDE The Zero Waste Store.