Yes, it may seem convenient and a lot cheaper to use plastic but if you think about things in the long run, we used to be able to live in a world where there was no plastic. In reality, we also get to save more money when we invest in bamboo or wooden materials as well as use glass tumblers and the like.
So, how does one start a zero waste lifestyle? How do you transition to going back to the basics? How do people find the right stores to purchase from? How do you know that these are legitimate stores? So many questions, so little answers.
This is why I have decided that I will be the one to look for a brand that you can trust to help you out with your zero waste lifestyle starter kit. I know this because they are also the company that I am starting my journey with.
Enter Berde 4 Mama. I first saw them on Facebook and my curiousity was piqued coz they were very subtle about their platform. They do not use shaming tactics. They are not overly aggressive with their posts. In short, I liked how they pitched what they have to offer. Thankfully, the owner of Berde 4 Mama was also gracious enough to allow me to interview her via email.
How did Berde come about? What was the inspiration for this?
I launched Berde in April last year as my passion project. It wasn't planned at all but I started it because I wanted to make eco-friendly products accessible and affordable.
I got this idea because I wanted to buy some for myself, but I got discouraged by the high prices. I was also bothered by the fact that we need more people to switch to greener alternatives and yet they were much more expensive compared to your usual plastic toothbrushes, and shampoos in bottles, etc.
So I chatted with a lot of these brands who sell them and upon inquiring about their bulk rates, I quickly learned how much they were making off of these products and I knew then that they can be sold at much cheaper rates.
With Berde, my mission is to make these eco-friendly products accessible and affordable because I truly believe that going green shouldn't be expensive. I want to get rid of the notion that living a sustainable lifestyle is only for those who can afford. I also wanted to tap those who are skeptical about switching to a bamboo toothbrush, for example, so that if they try it and really don't feel comfortable using a plant as the handle of their brushes, then at least they didn't spend a fortune on it.
Who are the owners and why Berde? Tell us a bit of history.
My name is Aliyah Ong and I'm the sole proprietor of Berde. I'm 23 :)
Ever since I was a kid I knew that I wasn't cut our for a 9-5 job. I tried it for about 2 years after graduating college in 2016. In a span of 2 short years, I went for 1 OJT and 4 full-time jobs. Some would easily dismiss my fast movement as a millennial trait of not being able to take the pressure and commit and push thru and all that, but I believe I had my valid reasons.
This product is all about sustainability and zero waste lifestyle. Do you think that the Filipino people are ready for this kind of living especially since plastic has made things cheaper and easier to lug around?
I think no one is ever ready until they actually try to make the shift. There are 2 things that I believe people are most concerned about when debating whether or not they are ready--one would be the cost and another is the "hassle" and extra time and effort it would take to shift.
As for the cost, this is one of the main concerns that Berde tries to address. I priced our products as such thinking that our low prices can entice people to try these zero-waste tools. As for the "hassle", thru social media I try to share as much news and tips and tricks on how to make the shift not really easier, but worthwhile.
More than selling eco-friendly items, it's very important to educate people on why they need to reduce their consumption. Thru the materials we share on the different social media platforms, I hope to bring people back to the main reason why stores such as mine exist. We shouldn't shift to this lifestyle just for the gram or just because it's the "in" thing right now, because then once the phase has ended, then people will just go back to their old ways.
What are your best sellers and why do you think people buy it?
Our best sellers are the reusable straws at first (probably because of the hype too), but now our cotton rounds and produce bags are being in demand. I think the cotton rounds and produce bags are starting to get a lot of attention lately because these are the items that we really use on a daily or weekly basis. These items are necessary in our routines and they generate a lot of trash.
If I may share, we have some items that we are just finishing up and won't be selling anymore. We're thinking about discontinuing selling metal straws and bamboo utensils primarily because most households already have utensils at home, and they're really just a hype right now because it's cute. We're still weighing if the cute factor is enough motivation for people to use them vs plastic utensils.
Also, for the metal straws, it also promotes mining and we can't always say for sure, even despite certifications of responsible mining. There are glass and bamboo straws available, and a lot of other more sustainable materials that are being tested out for straw production. And more so, we can actually drink without straws right? :)
Ed's note - - - I actually drink more water when there's a straw involved. Haha.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced in getting people to go for a zero waste lifestyle?
At first I was aggressive in talking people into consuming less, but I've learned that it's no way to convince them. I feel like the key is not to push this lifestyle down their throat, but to educate them on why shifting to greener alternatives is better not just for the environment but also for them.
The challenge really is to get people to understand why there is such a movement and why using reusable straws is not enough and why it's not just about saving sea turtles. Once they understand this, then all the "hassle" when prepping and bringing your reusables will be worth it.
Now let's talk about the actual product. I tested it for a week and here are my reviews.
Everyone who has read my blog over the years know that I love soaps that give a good lather and leave you feeling refreshed, not sticky. My normal go to soaps would be the Mint Soap from PINTO MUSEUM and ILOG MARIA. However, it is hard to go to these places so I don't always get to use them.
When I tried the Calamansi Soap from Berde, I had the same feeling but even better. You see, it is not minty which can be problematic when washing certain body parts but the moment you step out of the bath, you just feel so refreshed, like a gust of wind blew from inside your body out. You just feel really good.
For people like me who carry too many things, a spork like this can be really good because it saves up on space inside my bag. It's also easy to clean and manage. I can go from eating something with rice to poking fruits and veggies when I want to. The convenience and the way this helps me lessen plastic usage is amazing.
The first time I tried the bamboo toothbrush, I had so many apprehensions. What if it doesn't work? What if it breaks? What if it tastes weird?
Thankfully my fears were for nothing. It was just an ordinary toothbrush save for the fact that this one was not going to harm Planet Earth. It tasted the same, worked the same, and made me question myself why I did not try this out back in 2018.
How are you contributing to help save the planet?
Here's a quick video to show you my initial take on Berde.
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