Concerned about the alarming level of plastic packaging waste, these young entrepreneurs established sustainable bulk stores to encourage society to change.
Jakarta has seen an increase in non-waste businesses offering packaging free shopping in the recent years. One concept is that customers are allowed to bring their own containers and shopping bags to carry purchased items in an effort to reduce plastic packaging waste. This push towards sustainability is gradually forcing people to purchase only as necessary, therefore reducing the amount of trash generated.
Saruga, The Bulkstore & Co. and Naked Inc. are some of the pioneers behind this urban zero waste lifestyle. Their business plan goes beyond merely offering pleasant smelling spices displayed on visually appealing wooden shelves. Each store’s founder has personal stories to tell on why they decided to help educate other people to be more concerned about the Eearth they living, in addition to helping the country’s SMEs.
Saruga Package Free Shopping Store
The two founder of the store, Adi Asmawan and Ridha Zaki went to college together at Trisakti University, industrial product design major. The idea to run packaging free store came after Adi’s debacle with his household trash-burning neighbour. Several warnings failed to improve the situatio and Adi had to endure the intrusive and unhealthy smoke for years. The experienced made Adi thought about trash; its origins and how to get rid of trash without harming others or the environment. Adi concluded that retail is the main source of plastic packaging, which eventually up as garbage.
“Retail bridges industry and consumers. It has both upstream and downstream access. I decided to take action starting from this position by starting collaborations with the upstream industry while education consumers in the downstream side. Our target is to overcome the problem from the source. It will never work if we don’t do something at the source,” Adi continued.
In other words, Adi intends point out retail’s major responsibility to overcome packaging waste in contrast to current situation where most of the responsibility is placed on consumers.
After creating a business plan, Adi and Zaki started approaching suppliers. Adi admitted that educating potential suppliers on the importance of selling without packaging was challenging. Most products came from small-medium enterprises which has BPOM certificate, halal certificate and natural.
Saruga, meaning heaven in Dayaknese, offers more than 300 items from basic needs such as millet (IDR 133,000/gr), sugar (IDR 18,000/gr), spices (oregano IDR 280,000/gr, paprika powder IDR 196,000/gr), to eco-friendly home items (detergent IDR 24,000) and healthcare items.
Since its opening in November 2018, Saruga has been holding true to its vision and mission, and Adi is also trying to expand the business to larger industries. For Adi, a positive result is when big brand retails agree to collaborate, following this business model. Adi hopes that Saruga will continue to reach more consumers in order to expand this positive business network.
Saruga Package Free Shopping Store
The Bulkstore & Co.
Although it has been opened for public since May, this store was officially launched in August. The Bulkstore & Co. was born thanks to collective vision of five young women: Caroline Febrianty (COO), Rinda Liem (Community Relations), Debora Gondokusumo (Head of Business Development), Helga Angelina (Head of Finance) and Putri Arif Febrila (CEO). Each of them posses good background and network in developing the business.
Seeing many stores carrying the same concept, The Bulkstore & Co. tries to combine multiple sustainability aspect, such as being organic, environmental-friendly and generating zero waste.
“We want zero waste concept develop rapidly especially for urbanites in Jakarta. We’ve also observed that lack of government support has deterred communities and individuals originally keen on living a sustainable lifestyle. This is why our store offers many choices to help our consumers shop consciously,” says Putri, one of the five founders.
With a vision of becoming a fun and reliable sustainable grocery store, The Bulkstore & Co. impose strict requirements for suppliers looking to establish cooperation in that they must be able to guarantee that the products are truly organic without any additional substances, such as emulsifier, sweetener, food colouring synthesis, food thickener, etc. According to Debora, most products are taken from small SMEs as part of their contribution to realising a circular economy.
The store has collected more than 600 types of product, ranging from food ingredients (sea salt, pink Himalayan sea salt, coconut, sugar), seasonings (thyme IDR 333,000/gr, onion powder IDR 429,000/gr), nuts (almond, cashew IDR 167,000/gr, red beans, chickpea) and whole grains (lentils, dried barley IDR 657,000/gr, quinoa). “Our next goal is to open stores beyond Jakarta in an effort to move closer to the community. As of now, those living in the outskirts of Jakarta, such as Depok and other outer city areas, have to make long trips in order to reach our store. And this means more carbon emission,” Debora shared her concern.
In terms of expansion, the store will open its first branch in Kemang Village in the middle of September.
The Bulkstore & Co.
The issue of plastic waste widely reported in mass media caught the attention of Kiana, an environmentally concerned individual who has witnessed firsthand the devastating effect of plastic waste in the forests of Central Kalimantan. In addition to bringing home memories the majestic orangutan, Kiana was also moved to act to overcome the issue.
The idea for Naked Inc., was born as a small step to save the Earth from plastic waste. Kiana, who is a young entrepreneur, realised that the campaign about environmental-friendly and plastic diet lifestyle is nothing new. Many people including herself are trying to turn these campaigns into real action.
Luckily, she is an environmentally conscious shopper and longstanding member of an organic community, which grants her easy access to start Naked Inc. in April. After a mere two months of preparation, the store was filled with more than 600 types of product.
“In Naked Inc., customers can buy our products based on their needs, even in volumes as small as one teaspoon, as long as the scale can weigh, in an effort to minimise waste,” Kiana explained.
Kiana said that nuts (hazelnut IDR 450,000/gr, chia seeds IDR 275,000/gr, macadamia IDR 101,500/gr), herbs (fennel seeds IDR 147,000/gr, Italian herbs IDR 425,000/gr, red ginger powder IDR 310,000/gr), rice and dry are customers’ favourite.
And after learning that most of her customers enjoy snacking, Kiana also stocks healthy snacks, such as roasted almond with sea salt, available for IDR 410,000/gr, chocolate, coconut chips as well as various beverages like kombucha and herbal drinks.
“I tried to sell fresh vegetables but failed because our young customers dislike carrying vegetables after shopping. Now is not yet the time to sell fresh produce,” Kiana once again added.
In addition to providing recycled products with a positive production story behind them, Kiana plans keep improving by creating a membership and starting a community base so that customers can enjoy seminars and workshops regularly.