I like to think that I have a pretty decent relationship with my younger sister. It’s not like we agree on everything, of course.
She thinks that I’m a freak with no social life, I think she’s a geek with terrible taste in boyfriends and neither of us can ever agree on what to make for dinner (for the record, peanut butter on a burger is perfectly fine and anyone who disagrees has terrible taste). That said, we still get along pretty well most of the time.
But none of that could have prepared me for getting a text asking if I wanted to go to the “nude store” with her.
“Thanks, but no thanks,” I texted back, disgust and confusion mixed together, as I wondered if this was a prank of some sort.
“Don’t worry, mum will be here too,” she replied, which didn’t help matters at all.
Don’t Worry, It’s Not That Kind of Nude Store
After reluctantly agreeing to follow, I found myself standing in front of a… fairly normal looking store in the middle of Petaling Jaya. The sign outside advertising it as “NUDE: The Zero Waste Store“.
Looking through the window, I saw a hipster boutique-style place, but all the products were stuff you’d find in a normal grocery store or kedai runcit — soap, detergent, flour, eggs, etc.
Honestly, I couldn’t help feeling confused. Where was the nudity?
“The name ‘NUDE’ actually represents all the items that we sell,” explained the store’s co-founder Cheryl Anne Low. “There’s no packaging, so all our products are ‘nude’. We didn’t really intend for it to be attention grabbing or anything, but we thought it was very suitable.”
Personally, I was just glad I didn’t have to follow my mum into one of those stores. Grocery shopping is fine, but there are some parts about your parent’s personal life that you really don’t want to know.
So What’s The Deal with NUDE: The Zero Waste Store?
I know you’re probably thinking “Oh no, it’s another overpriced hipster place!“, but NUDE isn’t like that.
To put it simply, NUDE is a place that aims to spread awareness about environmental issues and support those who want to embrace the zero waste lifestyle.
“The zero waste lifestyle is not only for packaging or plastic or disposables but for everything in your daily lives,” said Cheryl. “Zero waste literally means don’t waste anything.
If you buy stuff in packaging, don’t just throw it away. Keep reusing it as much as you can. Because if you think about it, a lot of effort and energy and time and resources have gone into making something as simple as a plastic bag or a cotton T-shirt. So if you have it, don’t waste it. Use it over and over again.”
A Different Shopping Experience
I have to admit, this was the first time I’d ever stepped into a “zero waste” store, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. A part of me was expecting it to be more… I don’t know, hippy? You know, all essential oils and “natural medicines” and so on.
Instead, NUDE is basically like an uplifted grocery store. The products are split into “Foods, Goods and Moods”. In other words, stuff to eat, stuff to clean your house and stuff to make you look and feel good.
“With a normal supermarket, it’s all just grab and go,” said Cheryl. “We wanted to do a self service so that people would be able to have a better shopping experience. For example, with food, you can open and sniff the jars. If you want to taste, we have separate spoons for testers… it’s a full-on experience.”
Unlike a normal grocery store or supermarket, though, everything here is packaging free. Instead of buying a litre of laundry detergent, you bring in your own container, fill it up from a tub, then weigh it and pay based on how much you take.
This means that you buy exactly what you need. Have a big family that needs to wash their clothes every day? Bring in a big container to take home extra detergent. A single guy who lives alone and only washes his clothes once a week? Bring a smaller container and save your money.
And this extends to all the other products as well.
“We don’t have a minimum purchase requirement, so you can buy as much or as little as you need,” said Cheryl. “If you only need to buy 20 grams of something, it doesn’t make sense for you to buy 100 grams, right?
When it comes to food, a lot of times we buy too much, we keep it in the fridge, we forget about it. Then when it goes bad, we have to throw it out. Isn’t that a waste?”
Why Should We Be Shopping NUDE?
Reason 1: Helping Yourself
We all have this assumption that going green means having to spend more money. The moment you try to search for environmentally friendly products, you get bombarded with ads for metal straws and tote bags and all sorts of other things that have way too many zeros in their price tag.
However, going green doesn’t have to mean emptying out your wallet. In fact, it might actually help you save more instead!
“One of the main things that we wanted to address with NUDE is to show people that being environmentally friendly doesn’t have to be expensive,” said Cheryl. “Our prices are on par if not 5 to 10% cheaper compared to what you’ll find in most supermarkets.”
How do they keep their prices low? By buying in bulk and focusing primarily on local suppliers.
“When new customers come in, they always say ‘Oh, you guys look so expensive’, but when you look at the prices and compare it to what you normally spend, it usually works out to be cheaper.”
Reason 2: Helping Local Businesses
Over the past few years, more and more Malaysians have heard of the tagline #SapotLokal. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of consumers chose to buy from local sources rather than importing from overseas as a way to support our fellow Malaysians.
NUDE is no exception. Not only are they a local business, but they also go out of their way to find local suppliers whenever possible.
“For example, you can look at our Kinder Soaps. Kinder Soaps has been around for many years. I found her at a market bazaar and I really liked her products. And I know she’s environmentally friendly because she goes package free,” said Cheryl.
Aside from supporting local entrepreneurs, focusing on local suppliers also helps the environment by reducing NUDE’s carbon footprint. Since the distributors are all nearby, the products don’t have to travel thousands of miles via ship or plane before they arrive at the shop.
Which leads us to our next point…
Reason 3: Helping the Environment
NUDE may not be the biggest or most important ‘green’ store in Malaysia, but it may be the first one to support the zero waste lifestyle in such a comprehensive manner.
“When it comes to environmental problems, a lot of people have this mindset. They say ‘Oh, it’s not my problem’ or ‘I’m not rich, what difference can I make?’. But nowadays, more and more Malaysians are realising that their consumption and behaviours can make a difference,” said Cheryl.
Even something as simple as getting a refill for your shampoo rather than throwing away the container and buying a new one each month can change the amount of plastic going into our dumps every year.
How Can You Start Shopping NUDE?
Whether you’re interested in trying out the zero waste lifestyle or simply trying to find a cheaper alternative to the normal supermarket, here is where you can start shopping NUDE:
NUDE the Zero Waste Store
Operating Hours: 11am – 7pm, Wednesdays-Sundays | Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
Address: 11A (Ground Floor) Jln 19/29, Seksyen 19, 46300, Petaling Jaya (behind New Paris Restaurant)
Contact: +6011 3773 9639
Pro Tip: If you want to learn more, make sure to Google the full name (NUDE the Zero Waste Store). If you just type something like “Nude Malaysia” or “Nude Petaling Jaya”, you’re probably not going to like what you find.
But Is It Even Worth It Anymore?
Nowadays, it’s easy to get disillusioned about the whole environment issue. You see a thousand news stories about global warming and all the environmental damage happening today and it’s only natural to wonder if it’s even worth trying to change things anymore.
“It sounds so depressing,” admitted Cheryl. “I think a lot of people are doing as much as they can, but the numbers are still looking bad. But I think for me personally, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t even try.”
Changing Our Attitudes Towards the Environment
When it comes to big problems such as the environment, it can be natural to feel helpless or overwhelmed. To see the massive scale of the problem and wonder if anything we do could even make a difference.
But in the end, we all have to start somewhere.
“People are realising that and saying ‘Hey, you know what, I will do what I can. It may not be much, but I’m trying the best I can’,” said Cheryl. “And I think that’s a very important attitude to have. Instead of getting discouraged and feeling stuck, just taking that first step already makes a big difference. That’s the kind of mentality that we should have.”
If you’re looking for more ways that you can help the environment, be sure to check out: