From food to school supplies, cosmetics, home products and more, here’s where you can pick up plastic-free, zero-waste essentials in Hong Kong.
2020 was a devastating year for many people around the world. What’s even more alarming is that some of the effects of the pandemic may not even be known or understood for years to come. According to marine conservation organisation, OceansAsia, close to 1.56 billion masks entered our oceans last year, amounting to over 4,500 metric tonnes of plastic pollution (and that’s a conservative estimate!). These masks could take up to 450 years to break down – and while these remain in the sea, the microplastics in them will continue to harm marine ecosystems. Zero-waste living is sounding pretty good right about now, isn’t it?
We all know how devastating plastic and non-biodegradable items can be for the environment. And sadly, recycling will not be enough, as 91% of plastic can’t be recycled. The good news is that many large corporations, from IKEA to Unilever, are taking an eco-friendly turn. Equally heartening was the news that children across the world managed to influence popular toy company Lego to stop plastic packaging and the company also announced that it would switch over from plastic to a plant-based material by 2030.
As the children who moved Lego have proved, pressure and persistence from individuals and families can bring about change. As concerned parents who want to leave a clean, green, and habitable planet for our children, most of us make eco-conscious choices on a daily basis. And while it is difficult to go zero-waste in Hong Kong, it’s more doable now than ever.
Read more: How To Introduce Your Kids To Sustainability
Quick Tips To Go Zero-Waste In Hong Kong
So where do we start?
- Refuse plastic shopping bags. This is easily doable and our children often serve as the strictest monitors of this.
- Carry refillable cups and bottles. Download the Water for Free app to know where you can refill your bottles in Hong Kong.
- Reduce, reuse and recycle – let this mantra guide most of your buying decisions.
- Shop at zero-waste stores (in Hong Kong, if possible) and choose sustainable brands.
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!
Retail Zero-Waste Stores In Hong Kong
Beyond Plastic hopes to teach people in Hong Kong just that – there are sustainable choices and we need to start looking beyond plastic. It caters both to retail customers and businesses with its B2B wholesale partnership, offering everything from bamboo paper towels to sugarcane takeaway boxes, pasta straws, silk floss, and more. It also supports grassroots charities and organises regular public events, such as beach cleanups.
Now operating only out of its Wan Chai location, Edgar has a wide range of dried fruits and nuts, as well as a selection of decadent cookies. It also has a small but useful selection of beauty products, essential oils and household essentials. Edgar provides online deliveries, and its membership system will help you save some money in the long run.
The very first zero-waste store to open in Hong Kong, Live Zero carries everything from grains to stationery for kids, bamboo plasters, packaging-free shampoos, menstrual cups and more. You can shop at its two bulk food outlets in Sai Ying Pun and Sai Kung, its bulk beauty store in Sai Ying Pun or order online. Remember to bring your own containers when you go to stock up at the store.
Live Zero, various locations across Hong Kong, WhatsApp: 9433 3394 (Sai Ying Pun Bulk Foods), WhatsApp: 9842 9890 (Sai Ying Pun Bulk Beauty), WhatsApp: 9842 7858 (Sai Kung Bulk Foods), [email protected], www.livezero.hk
Lively Life has seasonal fresh produce, as well as fair-trade coffee, 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.
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. It stocks home care, beauty, food, health and pet care products.
Offering everything from noodles and rice to tea, beauty and kitchen accessories (including reusable stainless steel pods compatible with your Nespresso machines!), Seed promises to be and is more than just your neighbourhood boutique grocery store in Sai Kung.
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.
The Bulk Shop by Margella
Margot and Ella joined forces (hence Margella) and opened The Bulk Shop to help people adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. The first zero-waste concept store in Tai Po, it offers everything from beeswax wraps to compostable bin liners, plastic-free deodorant sticks and freshly baked sourdough! Stay tuned on their socials for upcoming workshops and tips on how to live plastic-free!
Also, check out…
Green Common – For all your plant-based essentials.
Online Zero-Waste Sites In Hong Kong
From by our former That Mama, Shirley Kwok, 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.
This one-stop online shop is also by a former That Mama, Vicki Chuard. Petit Tippi 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 and also pick up organic clothes for your little ones and bamboo bedsheets for the whole family.
Petit Tippi, www.petittippi.com
The Store stocks leading international brands in different categories, from health supplements to baby essentials, personal care items, organic groceries and laundry items. It delivers all over Hong Kong in recyclable packaging for that extra green touch.
Also, check out…
Jou Sun – For high-quality fresh produce sourced locally, personal care and home essentials.
Food And Produce
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 bags and green juicing ones, Eat FRESH delivers produce without unnecessary packaging.
FoodCraft’s mission is 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.
Not everything about Ms Audrey is zero-waste. In fact, the antique and vintage collections are rather indulgent. But it also has a great collection of custom blends of loose-leaf floral teas. Just bring your own container and request for the staff to transfer your teas!
This home-grown Hong Kong favourite is your go-to for fresh, healthy and organic selections of pantry goodies, plant-based food, superfoods, vegetarian and gluten-free choices. SpiceBox Organics is also one of the few local stores that are certified by the USDA National Organic Programme.
SpiceBox Organics, 137 Caine Road, Shop 1, Golden Valley Mansion, Caine Road, Mid Levels, Hong Kong, 2559 9887
Cheers to a healthier kind of bubbly! Kombucha is 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.
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).
Also, check out…
Regency Spices – For high-quality spices and herbs that are sourced without passing through a middleman.
Personal Care And Beauty
Eco-Friendly Hong Kong Brands And Stores
Bathe to Basics
Bathe to Basics offers handcrafted products, from shampoos and conditioners to face washes and lip balms. It uses 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.
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.
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 and at select retailers.
Zero Yet 100
Zero Yet 100 specialises 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, or pick up what you need at eco-friendly sites and stores across the city.
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. You can now make your own here.
Eco-Friendly International Brands Available In Hong Kong
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.
Founded in 2010 by a makeup artist and worn by multiple celebrities since, the Leaping Bunny-certified brand offers cruelty-free, vegan makeup and makeup accessories.
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!
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. You can read more about its packaging here and the recycling programme here.
The Body Shop
Well-known and well-loved beauty and personal care brand, The Body Shop, has always been about “business for good”. Besides being firmly against animal testing, it also champions sustainability and going zero-waste with its recycling programmes.
Also, check out…
Zero-Waste Home And Lifestyle
Look at Bamboa for all things bamboo that has been sourced sustainably to support rural bamboo communities. It has luxurious bamboo silk bed sheets, towels, T-shirts, homeware and accessories. For kids, it has a cute range of towels, bibs, bottles and lunchboxes.
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.
Ekologic was founded in Australia in 2015 as an eco wood homeware company and brought to Hong Kong in 2019. It stocks daily plastic-free essentials, natural homeware, sustainable lifestyle goods, eco furniture and a wide range of gifts.
Go zero waste with these reusable and convenient collapsible silicone food and drink containers available widely across Hong Kong. Collapsible water bowls are even available for your fur babies at pet stores.
From bedding to swaddles, blankets to clothing and more, Malabar Baby’s designs are handcrafted using ethically sourced natural organic cotton. This brand gives back to others with environmentally friendly initiatives, fair-trade factory collaborations and support of charities, including Mothers Choice.
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.
The Wee Bean
This brand was the winner of the Hong Kong Smart Design Award (HKSDA) 2020 Green Award for incorporating environmentally sustainable principles in both design and production. It has a range of skin-sensitive baby products, including blankets, bibs, vests and more.
Also, check out:
Retykle – For preloved designer brands for babies and toddlers. You can also sell your child’s clothes here.
International Zero-Waste Brands And Sites That Ship To Hong Kong
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. Information regarding shipping prices can be found here.
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.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published by Lucia Lau in August 2018 and updated by Anita Balagopalan in April 2021.