Changing habits to use less plastic: a conversation with Boomi
China is not exactly the “greenest” country on Earth. Going to a Chinese supermarket must be a nightmare for a zero waster, as absolutely everything is packed with several layers of plastic (my personal pet peeve being the individually wrapped cookies). Last year I wrote a post about why plastic waste is a problem and what we can do to reduce our “plastic print”. So I was very interested when I heard from a young start up called Boomi that wants to tackle precisely this problem and wanted to help them spread the word. Boomi was founded by Emmanuel, from Indonesia, and Miguel, from Peru, two friends that met when they were studying together in Singapore. They realized that a big part of the world’s plastic waste comes from South East Asia and they wanted to do something to reverse this trend. Thus Boomi (which means Earth in Indonesian) was born.
I met Miguel, who is based in Shanghai, a couple of weeks ago and we had a very interesting chat about waste reduction in general and their start up in particular. Boomi’s primary goal is to provide information to South East Asia residents and guide them to a less plastic-based and more sustainable way of life. Many people are aware of the excess plastic that is used daily and are willing to change their habits, but they don’t have the tools to do so. To help them, Boomi stays away from guilt tripping and focuses instead on providing information about positive changes. They also work with schools and institutions to arrange hands-on workshops about composting and teach students, who after all are the people that will eventually lead change, about sustainability and waste reduction, and collaborate with NGOs to donate toothbrushes too.
Another of Boomi’s goals is to provide China and South East Asia residents with sustainable products. To this end, their online shop was officially inaugurated a few months ago. Their current products are bamboo toothbrushes with compostable plastic bristles, bamboo toothbrush cases, washable make-up wipes and shampoo bars. The bamboo used comes from a FSC certified forest, they obviously don’t use plastic in their packaging and print with less ink and even deliver by bike for orders within Shanghai or provide the possibility of picking your order in their office.
I asked Miguel about the products they were planning to release next. He mentioned bamboo hair brushes and stainless steel razors, followed by a new line of kitchen products. When I mentioned the main problem I see with sustainable products, which is the comparatively high price, he told me that they have tried to keep the price as low as possible and also that, when this type of products becomes widely used, it will be cheaper to produce them and the sale price will be lower (as fixed production costs are cheaper for big orders). Also, for the shampoo bars and washable wipes, they actually last for a long time and end up being less expensive than the usual alternatives.
We also talked about what we can do here in China to reduce our plastic waste. Most actions just involve a change of habits, like avoiding ordering delivery meals, as they always come in plastic containers; asking for your coffee to be served in a ceramic mug instead of in a disposable cup (some chains like Starbucks now offer a small discount if you bring your own mug); reminding the waiter that you don’t need a straw, etc.
If you are in China or South East Asia and are interested in Boomi’s products, you can check their shop here. Using the code MARTA during checkout will give you a 20% discount, as a courtesy from Boomi!
Have you changed any of your daily habits to reduce your plastic consumption? Tell me about it in the comments!