Did you know packaging accounts for one-third of the waste generated in Singapore?
The vacuum-sealed rice, the foil-bagged cereal, the individually packed wafers, the mummified toffees… the packaging for anything and everything adds up very quickly to fill up the dustbin after a regular supermarket visit. Do we have a choice to avoid these? Can we reduce our trash? Actually – yes we can!
Here’s our list of new and old establishments that sell dry goods. If you go armed with your reusable containers, you will find your aim of an eco-friendly lifestyle much easier to achieve!
6 Jalan Kuras, Singapore 577724.
03-03 Downtown Gallery, 6A Shenton Way, Singapore.
One of the new zero waste stores in Singapore, UnPackt opened to a lot of well-deserved attention in May 2018. Co-founders Florence Tay and Jeff Lam want to provide an experience that isn’t wasteful as modern shopping sadly tends to be. The problem with the current supermarket model isn’t just the overuse of packaging, they say, but also that people are forced to buy in pre-decided quantities. When people buy more than what they need because of standard product sizing- they pay more, and waste more too.
At the UnPackt store we visited in Jalan Kuras, we found a range of dry goods – grains, oils, nuts, snacks, tea & coffee, eco-detergents, and more – all of which we could buy in any amount we needed. Payment was by weight, prices were reasonable, and behind the labels on their transparent containers, quality of produce was visibly impressive. Customers are expected to bring in their own bottles / jars etc – however there is a small shelf of used but clean containers you can use in case you forget. UnPackt also sells a range of lifestyle products that match the zero waste lifestyle – such as metals draws, shampoo bars, reusable cutlery, etc.
Response to UnPackt has been enthusiastic – and they now have a store open in the CBD too. This makes it even easier for us to support a no-packaging concept store, which frankly, was long overdue in Singapore!
163 Tanglin Road, #02-17/18 Tanglin Mall.
Scoop Wholefoods is already an established bulk goods store with multiple locations in in Australia – so no surprise, it has been able to offer a tantalizingly wide range of foods since Day 1 of opening its first international franchise in Singapore. There are several aisles filled with nuts, seeds, chocolates, even lentils and rice varieties. There are oils to pour, whole walnuts to scoop, rock salt can be bought to measure. On top of all that, you can use their machines to make and leave with fresh nut butter. Zero-wasters will feel like kids in a candy store!
Purchasing process is streamlined and easy. Customers can carry their own jars/bags and print a label at the entrance to record the container’s weight. Then they scoop in whatever they wish to buy, and self-mark the codes of the product. I went in with all the junk mail plastic covers I get via post: very useful in minimizing the weight of my final bag in case you want to use this tip! Should you forget to carry your own containers, small paper bags are free and glass jars can be purchased.
The Source Bulk Foods
Also with Australian roots, The Source is a modern, well-stocked store that can keep the healthy-eaters and sweet-toothers alike! During my recce in its opening weeks, I discovered the aisles held a veritable who-s-who of produce! There kombucha on tap #madeinsingapore, wild honey from Australia, a distracting long aisle of sweet stuff (with many options for vegans), superfoods galore (from Phyllum husk to bone broth powder), and yes – even a nut butter machine gorging out fresh cashew, almond and ABC spreads! It’s amazing how much has been packed in the inaugaral store in Cluny Court, and (opened Dec 2019!) at Great World City outlet.
With a successful opening that has surpassed expected interest and footfalls, The Source is looking forward to open another outlet in Raffles Place. For those who find the stores out of their way – do look up their their online order and delivery system!
The Social Space
333 Kreta Ayer Road, #01-14, Singapore 080333.
The Social Space is a multi-concept store featuring a Tea Bar & Café, a fair trade retail area and a nail salon, all upholding sustainability principles in the way goods and services are sold. When you visit, carry your own containers to buy from their section-full of package free cleaners – castile soaps, floor cleaners, dishwashing liquids, etc. And definitely keep some time aside tastings at their cafe – temptation is guaranteed! There are no straws and no disposables of course; we loved delicious glass-bottled vegan beverages we tried, and though we succeeded in avoiding the desserts, you may lack our strong willpower!
170 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Bukit Timah Shopping Center #03-56, Singapore 588179.
At Eco.Le’s bulk shop, you can buy from a wide range of edibles (grains, nuts, cereals, condiments etc) as well as toiletries (oils, soaps, shampoos) and enzyme cleaners. Pay as you weigh your reusable containers – preferably get your own, or use the recyclables available at the shop. If you end up with too heavy a load, enjoy free delivery for orders above $50 in Singapore!
Since Eco.Le is founded on the principles of zero waste living, it also seeks to foster environmentally sustainable lifestyle. As such, it also stocks reusable straws, lunch boxes, and other products that support the movement. It also supports some recycling initiatives. Drop off pre-cleaned, segregated plastics (#2-HDPE, #5 PP) for PlastiCitySG, or add to their collection of bags and bottles that other customers can use for purchases.
2 Orchard Turn, #04-25 ION Orchard, Singapore 238801.
3 Gateway Drive, #04-41 Westgate, Singapore 608532.
Looking for quality oils and liquors? Vom Fass has a delectable and exhaustive range to choose from. It is fresh from the cask, and tasters are often at hand to convince you of the difference that this brings! Find olive oils, argan oil, vinegars, even various whiskeys. You can carry own bottle or buy their reusable glass bottles to buy your desired item.
The Castile Soap Shop
2 Jalan Lokam, Kensington Square, 01-17, Singapore 537846.
If it is specifically soap you are after, this store is what you are looking for. The shop stocks a variety of toiletries actually – including a lot of organic formulations for people and even pets. But what zero wasters will particularly appreciate are the boxes on taps of Vermont Castile soap!
The Old Kids on the Block!
Albert Centre, 270 Queen Street, Singapore 180270.
Teck Sang, 11 Hong Kong Street. Singapore.
Fu Lu Shou Complex, 149 Rochor Road, Singapore 188425.
Victoria Wholesale market, 101 Kallang avenue, Singapore 339508.
Our shops list would be incomplete without a nod to the traditional bulk sellers – who have kept up with providing bulk, packaging-free selling for donkeys years!
We discovered these gems in Singapore first due to our research for this article. For those of you that have missed this bit entirely – we certainly had – Singapore has a some well-stocked dry goods markets. Albert Centre and Lu Fu Shou Complex, Brash Basah, are the ones we visited with our own bags and boxes. From dried fruits and nuts to fried fish maw, duck web, lup cheong, red dates, dried plums and such – you get everything possible in the dry foods category. Being wholesale markets, the prices are very reasonable. But the best part is that not a single store sales person flinched at a request for no plastic. All the stores where we took clean boxes, bags and bottles – to get our purchase back in – did not find the request unusual! The address list above lists only some of the dry goods bulk markets in Singapore (we are sure there are more!).
Reprovisions [Update- As of 11th November 2019, Reprovisions has closed down]
1 Jurong West Central 2, Jurong Point #03-32/33, Singapore 648886.
Live in the west and looking for an option closer to home? Reprovisions has you covered. They opened their doors in October 2018 and are still expanding their product range. Their current stock covers dry provisions like beans, rice and pasta, and a variety of snacks. There is a corner for Amazing Grace nuts and granola, and a range of spices from Anthony The Spice Maker. Lined up in a beautiful display up front are funky licorice sticks and an array of mouth-watering desserts. Go on, pick up a kraft bag or their reusable glass jars (or bring your own, of course) and treat yourself to some package-free goodness. The list of what is retailing in the store is kept up to date on their Facebook page here, take a peek before you go.
Thank you Akshata Rao, for bringing Reprovisions to our radar!
Two Sisters Pantry
50 East Coast Road, #01-43 Roxy Square, Singapore 428769.
Though not a packaging-free store by design, Two Sisters still deserves a bookmark from the greenies in the East Coast. The shop is run by, you guessed it, two sisters – one managing the outlet, and another sourcing a range of products from Australia that a natural living enthusiast would appreciate. They have a wall full of bulk containers – including chia seeds, couscous, rolled oats, various types of chocolates, and more – and you can buy in the quantities you prefer. The shop supports customers who get their own containers – but also has resealable plastic bags at hand for those who don’t.
[Update: Ed’s comment: after so many of you wrote in – some with votes of thanks and others with recommendations for our list, we are continuing to update this article to ensure this article stays current and helpful! Latest update: Dec 2019]