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New Stockist: The Hive Bulk Foods

We’re absolutely thrilled to be a part of the family of vendors over at The Hive Bulk Foods!

This cozy store in Bangsar specialises in helping consumers adhere to a zero-waste lifestyle, where general sundries are sold without packaging, and you can buy all kinds of things by weight. They have an impressive range of personal care items too, from tooth powder to soap bars. It was great to see other local cosmetics brands I look up to, like Root Remedies, Jeanie Botanicals, Claire Organics, and Native Body & Skin having their own space there as well. Okay, maybe I felt a little star-struck to be placed alongside them, haha… :”)

If you think that this whole thing about going packaging-free and zero waste is a hippie / hipster lifestyle (read: expensive) affair, please reconsider it. The Hive’s owner, Claire, does everything she can to make this kind of lifestyle one that is not only sustainable for the environment, but for the pocket too. Affordability is a key consideration for sustainable consumption, and she’s working hard to find solutions that will encourage the public to seriously consider going packaging-free with their daily household consumables.

Here’s what the place looks like:

via GIPHY

I love looking at their neat rows of wooden shelving, with glass jars full of nuts and grains, honey, coffee, and household items that are meant to replace their disposable / throwaway counterparts. We can do so much to reduce packaging waste from ending up in landfills, just by tweaking our purchasing habits. I do hope you’ll pay The Hive a visit, and perhaps consider buying your regular grocery items there so you can avoid creating yet another throwaway item when you get home from the usual supermarket run.

Here’s their address:

92A, Lorong Maarof, Bangsar (above Speedmart)
59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

017-680 4221

Follow this link to navigate to their shop in Bangsar using Google Maps.

4 thoughts on “New Stockist: The Hive Bulk Foods

  1. In my humble opinion, these sorts of places are not suited to cosmetics products. My reasons follow:

    There are a few things against the practice of customers filling their containers from bulk retail cosmetics for example shampoo, body wash, etc

    • The Cosmetics Compliance authorities will not accept this practice. Their major concern is that the customer’s containers to be refilled have not come from a GMP environment. In simple words, they may be contaminated.

    I contacted a few cosmetic scientists and manufacturers around the world, and these are some of their comments:
    • This practice is hardly ever seen.
    • In one of the few places I heard of doing it stopped suddenly and they pulled the stock.
    • As far as being more sustainable, we are seeing more indie lines go with glass, more packaging touting a percentage recycled materials, and even some cellulose-based packaging that is biodegradable.
    • Perhaps only suited for really poor city areas or countries.
    • End customers fear the retailer waters down the bulk dispensers since they aren’t individually packaged and sealed.
    • I foresee no-plastic (maybe metal?) sturdy reusable soap pumps. You buy the refills in glass bottles (no plastic as well). Interesting niche market with great upside potential.
    • The view taken over here is that the vast majority of thermoplastics, bar a few materials used for caps, are recyclable, and in the UK at least, local authorities have people segregate their plastic/glass/paper waste from the rest of their household waste, and have it sent to a specialist facility to be recycled
    • Proper recycling systems are in place in many countries. This should be the target of any country. When in place, it renders bulk dispensers unnecessary.

    Food for thought……

    Dr. Mike Thair
    Co-Founder & Chief Formulator
    Indochine Natural Sdn Bhd

    1. Thanks for weighing in on this, Mike! It’s certainly an interesting space to play in. You’re right, there are very real concerns about contamination and perhaps improper storage conditions. Consumer education is key, and it’s a gradual process.

      However, I believe that the crux of the matter is – everyone is trying to find their own way to balance between addressing the issues of quality, and reducing negative environmental impact. Right now, solutions will always be flawed, favouring one side over the other. For example, not all indie brands have easy (and affordable!) access to more eco-friendly liquid packaging options, and glass is pretty dangerous to use in the shower stall (with regards to liquid soaps and shampoos). As manufacturers, although we may offer more eco-friendly packaging for the end products, the reality is that our raw materials still come shipped in plastic, together with polystyrene foam.

      I like some of the suggestions that your scientist colleagues put forward, like selling refills in glass bottles. As for the issue of recycling, especially plastics, we still have a *long* way to go in terms of making it sustainable, and the norm. For instance, even with more active steps taken by the UK government to get households to separate their waste for the purpose of recycling, it still depends on shipping off some grades of plastic waste to China for this purpose. (See http://www.bbc.com/news/business-42456584). The statistics are frightening.

      We can’t fix everything, and we can’t have it all. Both consumer safety, and caring for our environment, are important. We just need to keep conversations open, and continue being creative in finding ways to offer solutions for both sides.

      1. Hi Michelle… an interesting space indeed.

        I’m not sure if a lot of people genuinely care. The plastic waste issue is used as marketing leverage, in a rather shallow and uninformed way, in my opinion.

        I get paid as a scientist to provide technical solutions. Interestingly, environmental work I did 30+ years ago for local governments is being repeated over and over again. Everyone is a winner, but no solutions. The consultants don’t mind, its money in their pockets. Politicians use the problems and budgets, but not solutions, to win votes.

        It is only when things become critical, that notice is taken. The environmental work I did in the Maldives was acted on. These poor buggers are slowly losing their country to the sea.

        Now, to some of the points you raise…..

        “Consumer education is key,…” What about brand owners? If you are retailing bulk shampoo/body wash for customer refills, then the brand lacks basic cosmetics compliance knowledge.

        “As manufacturers, although we may offer more eco-friendly packaging…” PET bottles can be recycled. So what’s the problem?

        In my opinion, the real problem is that while politicians and some cosmetic brands leverage the plastic waste issue, there is not much momentum towards solutions. The solutions are available.

  2. I can’t deny that there is a systemic issue that is hard to budge, with regards to the lack of political will to enforce necessary changes from the top, in most countries. Money talks, after all.

    It got me thinking though – whatever work you have done as a scientist and consultant, Mike, has not gone to waste. You may not see changes in your lifetime, and that’s okay. I think what matters more is that *you did what you could*, and that is far better than being the other guy who’s just standing around saying that whatever he does won’t matter, because he’s just a drop in the ocean of humanity.

    That’s the voice of learned helplessness.

    If, however, we know better, then it is our duty to lead people towards the solutions, with compassion. Most won’t listen – but chances are, the ones who do, may well be the ones who will take up the torch and carry on passing along the message to bring about the change we need.

    Coming back to the more granular topics we were discussing – I just saw this article published yesterday, which touches (quite briefly) on how giants like Unilever are leading the way in changing their approach to using plastic in their packaging: https://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/Article/2018/05/23/Personal-care-s-potential-in-tackling-plastic-pollution?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GIN_CDAd&c=X8Eel6tfOpglmB%2F3oJBnXADKSY0fH1tv&p2=

    There was also a white paper published by Sagentia with their opinions on how to go about designing the entire value chain for a product in order to reduce plastic usage, or to maximise its reuse: https://www.sagentia.com/files/2018/05/Sagentia-Breaking-up-with-Plastic-finalv2.pdf

    I think as long as we keep our minds open to proactively look for opportunities for problem-solving, while at the same time being aware of the realities of regulatory requirements in our respective fields of business, we *can* move towards better solutions. They may be imperfect, stop-gap measures – but sometimes, we can’t wait for governments to catch up with their policies.

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