From cosmetics to school supplies, here’s where you can pick up plastic-free, zero-waste essentials in Hong Kong.
By now, we’ve all heard how our daily use of disposable plastics is causing major problems globally. And sadly, recycling will not be enough, as 91% of plastic can’t be recycled. In fact, some reports suggest that the recycling myth has been propagated by the plastics industry so that they could continue producing plastics. Hearing this can be quite depressing, but the good news is that many large corporations, from IKEA to Unilever, are taking an eco-friendly turn. As companies and families each make an effort to reduce plastic and disposable consumption, we can better the environmental situation for the future. And while it is difficult to go zero-waste in Hong Kong, it’s more doable now than ever.
So where do we start? From refusing plastic shopping bags to carrying around our own refillable cups and bottles (download the Water for Free app to know where you can refill your bottles in Hong Kong), it’s the little changes that count. Now that you know what to do, the question is where do you go to get what you need? We’ve compiled a list of eco-friendly and zero-waste shops for your day-to-day essentials. We tell you where to go if you want to pick up organic food for the family, packaging-free beauty products for yourself (or natural insect repellant for the kids), bamboo bed sheets for the home and those saviours in the Hong Kong humidity – stainless steel bottles. Happy shopping!
Read more: How To Introduce Your Kids To Sustainability
Food And Produce
The very first zero-waste store to open in Hong Kong, Live Zero carries everything from grains to kombucha. You can shop at its two outlets in Sai Ying Pun and Sai Kung or order online. Remember to bring your own containers when you go to stock up at the store. The Sai Ying Pun branch also has a bulk beauty store right across the road (read more further down).
Live Zero Bulk Foods, G/F 33 High Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, WhatsApp: 9433 3394
Offering everything from noodles and rice to tea and other accessories to satisfy your caffeine cravings (think reusable stainless steel pods compatible with your Nespresso machines!), Seed promises to be and is more than just your neighbourhood boutique grocery store.
This store in K-Town ticks all the boxes. It offers a wide range of whole food groceries (including everything from non-dairy milk, snacks, sweets, rice, pasta and more!). Slowood also stocks body, hair and health products and a huge range of home and cookware.
For really great produce and kitchen gear, Lively Life has seasonal fresh produce, as well as different kinds of vinegar and locally made organic kitchen and beauty items. And if you need to fill up that reusable water bottle, it’s got a water station, too.
Edgar has a wide range of dried fruits and nuts, as well as a selection of decadent cookies. Though it shut its first store in TST last year, it hopes to keep its Wan Chai branch thriving It does online deliveries, and its membership system will help you save some money in the long run.
This home-grown Hong Kong favourite is your go-to for freshly, healthy and organic selections. The online store has a wide range of pantry goodies, fresh plant-based food, superfoods, vegetarian and gluten-free choices – perfect for the eco-conscious family. SpiceBox Organics is also one of the few local stores that are certified by the USDA National Organic Programme. It also has a small cafe in its stores where you can stop to refuel while on your grocery run.
SpiceBox Organics, 137 Caine Road, Shop 1, Golden Valley Mansion, Caine Road, Mid Levels, Hong Kong, 2559 9887
For those who need a little more spice in their lives, Regency Spices has your back. It sources and sells spices and herbs without passing through a middleman. It also offers custom spice blends upon request. Visit its showroom in Tsuen Wan with your own containers to purchase (but do remember to call ahead for availability if you’re looking for something in particular)!
If you’re on the hunt for a healthy alternative to soda, look no further than kombucha, a fizzy, fermented tea drink that’s great for your gut. Taboocha is a local brand made fresh in the city and uses all-natural ingredients and probiotics in its kombucha. Available online and at various locations across town, the company has a recycling scheme for the glass bottles its product is sold in; just ask your retailer how you can return your bottle when you’re done! Cheers to a healthier kind of bubbly!
Whether you’re looking to stock up on liquors for cooking or drinking, Vom Fass will set you up. Offering liquors, vinegars and gourmet foods, you can purchase containers from the stores on your first visit and refill them each time you visit. It has outlets all over the city, though you can also place an order with its online store (free domestic shipping with spending over $450).
For the last four years, FoodCraft’s mission has been to provide healthy, allergy-free, alternative foods for customers. On its online store, you can purchase vegan yoghurts, sauerkraut, sprouted nuts and healthy no-white-sugar snacks. Some of these are also available at select retailers. In its efforts to stay zero-waste, FoodCraft has a glass jar recycling programme for its products.
Founded by three mums in 2012, Eat FRESH is a subscription service delivering fresh, local, organically farmed goods on a weekly basis. With different subscription options including baby and toddler boxes and green juicing plans, Eat FRESH is perfect for busy mamas looking for ways to feed their families the freshest foods.
Head here for custom blends of loose-leaf floral teas hidden among ornate vintage decor, gilded antiques and gorgeous dried arrangements of roses and other flora and fauna. Just bring your own container and request for the staff to transfer your teas!
Online One-Stop Shops
Sites In Hong Kong
Inspired by nature and the minimalist, zero-waste lifestyle, Plastic-Free HK aims to provide better access to eco-friendly options for everyday items to point the city towards a less disposable and plastic-free world. You could choose to pick up your order from The Hive in Sai Kung or opt for delivery instead (free domestic delivery on orders above $750). You can pick up starter kits for the kitchen, bathroom or beauty essentials if you are just embarking on this zero-waste journey.
From the founder of The Cakery, comes a sustainable online concept store, KIRR (Keeping It Real & Raw), with household, pantry, natural cleaning products and hand sanitiser. KIRR also has a great blog with recipe ideas, tips on sustainable living, lifestyle, and more. Local shipping on orders below $800 is at a flat rate of $28 and free above that. Alternatively, you could choose to pick up from any of The Cakery’s retail outlets.
This one-stop online shop also has great options for top quality, natural, organic and eco-friendly products for babies and mums. You can get cloth diaper sets and attend cloth diapering workshops, pick up bamboo bedsheets for the whole family, organic clothes and plenty of reusable items.
Petit Tippi, www.petittippi.com
Founded by zero-waste blogger Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers (she fit five years worth of waste in a 16oz mason jar!), the Package Free Shop offers everything from menstrual cups to organic cotton bedding and beyond to items for travel and kids. There are even sustainable back-to-school supplies! Using only post-consumer packing materials rescued from their previous owners and paper packing tape, everything your items come in is 100% recyclable and compostable.
Package Free Shop, www.packagefreeshop.com
Also, check out…
Life Without Plastic – For stationery, cloth diapers, and other items, some of which are sourced sustainably from China.
Womb – For carefully curated sustainable products by small designers.
Wild Minimalist – For cute vintage style homeware and cotton mesh produce bags.
Personal Care And Beauty
Hong Kong Brands And Stores
The founders of Bathe to Basics created the company back in 2011 as an alternative to mainstream skincare options. Its handcrafted products, from shampoos and conditioners to face washes and lip balms, use natural and organic ingredients, such as olive oil and essential oils. While its products aren’t completely plastic-free, Bathe to Basics encourages customers to bring its own containers by having refill stations for many of its products at its main shop and at a few eco-friendly shops in Hong Kong. You can order from the website and get free shipping for purchases over $400.
Soaper Delights has been making handmade soaps, laundry detergents, shampoos, insect repellants, select cosmetics and more in Hong Kong since 2013. It aims to provide high-quality products with a low impact on the environment, by using natural ingredients and eco-friendly packaging. It’s available online, at select retailers and pop-up stores at events around Hong Kong (when they’re back up and running).
Zero Yet 100 specialised in natural, effective, and chemical and synthetic-free deodorants that come in various essential oil fragrances. Zero Yet 100 has recently expanded its products to include luxurious bath oils. You can purchase products online with free shipping for all orders over $200, or pick up what you need at eco-friendly sites and stores across the city.
At Live Zero’s Sai Ying Pun branch, you can source a wide range of beauty products including some of those mentioned here. You can also bring in your own containers to refill pure essential oils, shampoos, conditioners and more.
Live Zero Bulk Beauty, G/F 20 High Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, www.livezero.hk
In 2005, BeyOrg was established as the first natural cosmetic store in Hong Kong. It has remained committed to its promise of offering the best brands in terms of natural, organic, cutting-edge, fresh cosmetics that are most suited to Asian skin.
Also check out…
We Are NO Expert – For solutions meant for sensitive skin.
Coconut Matter – For products made from coconut oil that comes from fair-trade and sustainable farms.
Purearth – For handcrafted vegan, eco-friendly and ethical products, made in small batches.
Savon Workshop – For handmade skincare and beauty products like soaps, creams, lotions, fragrances, shampoos and more. You can now make your own here.
Shampoo bars, bath bombs, face masks and now even a large collection bubble bars! This British brand is all about bringing your hair and skin only the most natural ingredients. With everything handmade and as eco-friendly as possible, the cosmetics company is committed to banning animal testing and recycling. By making 35% of its products solid, it cuts back on packaging, and for the products that require a container, it offers a recycling return offer. Simply save your empty and clean LUSH containers and return five of them at a time to any store in town and it’ll give you a free face mask in return! You can read more about its packaging here and the recycling programme here.
Consider Aesop for hair, skin and body care products made from ingredients of the highest quality (plant-based and laboratory-made). At the stores, informed consultants are available to help you make your selection.
Committed to sustainability and environmental consciousness, Elate Beauty offers a range of makeup products including eyeshadow trios and vegan brushes, all featuring packaging, cases, and handles made of bamboo, making it all fully recyclable. You can also purchase refills for your cases when you’ve finished a favourite to reduce the number of resources consumed!
Founded in 2010 by a makeup artist and worn by multiple celebrities since, the Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free, vegan makeup brand features strong pigmentation and luxurious textures across their products. The brand touts cosmetics ranging from brow pencils and foundations to baked highlighters and eyeshadow quads and a lineup of vegan brushes.
When it comes to caring for our babies, we only want the best for them, so organic and plastic-free should be a natural choice. On Biome, there’s a large range of earth-friendly choices for your littlest ones, from balms and salves to soft toys and baby bottles. It also carries a selection of other products for the rest of the family, ensuring strict standards and researching its products and companies before sourcing from them to make some real change. International shipping flat rates start at $23 AUD (approximately $112); more information regarding shipping prices can be found here.
Also check out…
Keeping It Natural – For multitasking pigmented lip and cheek tints and cake mascaras that come in zero waste, fully recyclable aluminium tins. Available on Etsy.
RMS Beauty – For skincare-based makeup in fully recyclable containers with a cult following, available at Beyorg Beauty.
Dental Lace – For 100% Mulberry silk floss that’s coated in microcrystalline wax, that is available in refillable bags made of 100% compostable post-consumer paperboard. Available online or at Plastic Free HK.
Meow Meow Tweet – For vegan, baking soda-free deodorants, available on Plastic-Free HK
Home And Lifestyle
Hong Kong Brands And Stores
Look at Bamboa for all things bamboo. It has luxurious bamboo silk bed sheets, towels, T-shirts, homeware and accessories. Sourced sustainably to support rural bamboo communities, it also offers custom bedding sizes, perfect for those who prefer more space or simply can’t fit a properly sized one into their tiny Hong Kong apartments. For kids, it has a cute range of towels, bibs, bottles and lunchboxes.
Consider switching your bedding to one that’s chemical-free, luxurious while also being affordable and sustainable (bamboo is one of the most sustainable textile materials, requiring less than 1/10 of the water that cotton needs to grow). Naked Lab has a wide range of bamboo silk sheets and pillow slips for the whole family. The ones for the littlest members of your family, along with their muslin cloths, can even be personalised.
This Hong Kong brand has captured the essence of the eco-evangelist’s catch-phrase with its No Plastic Mm Goi collection of steel bottles and tumblers and collapsible silicone lunchboxes. Its products are available online and at select retailers.
You’ve probably noticed LexNGo’s collapsible silicone food and drink containers at stores across the city before. Collapsible water bowls are even available for your fur babies at pet stores.
Founded in 2014, this brand uses corn or plant starch extract called PLA (poly-lactic acid) for its mugs, cruelty-free leather for its pouches and bamboo for its cutlery and toothbrushes. You can buy directly from its online store or get in touch for large and customised orders.
This store’s unique promise is that it studies the ingredients, sources and even the manufacturing processes of all products that it stocks. The store actively promotes “祼 买” or zero-waste packaging, and offers BYOB discounts on selected products if customers bring their own containers. Besides home care items, it carries beauty, food, health and pet care products as well.
This revolutionary, 100% biodegradable sponge made completely of wood pulp is made in the US and although thin, it definitely pulls its weight! It is capable of doing the work of 30 paper towel rolls and reducing 13 billion tons of waste in a landfill per year. It doesn’t ship to Hong Kong, but you can buy your stock at Live Zero.
BYOB, especially if the fabric is made of 100% recycled plastic bottles! With a variety of styles, colours, and sizes to choose from for multiple purposes, Onya carries bags for everything from your regular day-to-day haul to bulk food bags and even sandwich wraps! Produced responsibly in China, this Australian company is slowly helping to clear our landfills of discarded bottles. Hey, one man’s trash is another man’s (or should we say, mama’s) treasure!
This brand is well-loved by school kids all over the world. Its stainless steel Rover lunchbox has plenty of compartments that the kids will love. It also comes with optional rubber magnets of adorable cars, mermaids and emoticons, if the child in question wants to design a new look for his or her lunchbox.
Planet Rover, www.planetbox.com
This brand started with a mum making a cloth monster toy with all the fabric scraps she had collected over the years. It grew into the brand that it is today with sustainability and reusability in mind. So it stocks bags and covers for a variety of products, “UnPaper” kitchen rolls, cloth makeup remover pads, wet bags for soiled clothes, etc. It’s available online and at most eco-stores and sites in the city.
Marley’s Monsters, www.marleysmonsters.com
Also check out…
Abeego – For beeswax wraps. Available widely in Hong Kong at almost all eco-stores and sites.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published by Lucia Lau in August 2018 and updated by Anita Balagopalan in April 2020.
Feature image courtesy of Getty Images, image 1 courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels, image 2 courtesy of Taboocha via Facebook, image 3 courtesy of Plastic-Free HK, image 4 courtesy of Bathe to Basics via Instagram, image 5 courtesy of Lush via Facebook, image 6 courtesy of Bamboa, image 7 courtesy of Sqwishful via Instagram.