Malaysia's 1st Refill Store On Wheels Is Here & It Can Come Straight To Your Doorstep
Leaving her full-time job behind, Oh Sok Peng has started Malaysia's first zero waste store that can come straight to your neighbourhood or home
Having previously worked as a producer for television, films, and documentaries, and later as a distribution manager for European documentaries, the 44-year-old decided to leave it all behind to start Refiller Mobile.
Refiller Mobile is a cute little van that goes to neighbourhoods, campuses, offices, and private events to offer refills for detergents, treats, and more
Oh currently sells eco-friendly household cleaning agents, dried food, shampoo bars, toothpastes, personal care products, dog treats, and other alternative products, such as mesh bags, eco-friendly brushes, etc.
Everything is sourced from local zero waste store, KitaRefill, which is based in Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya.
To reduce carbon footprint, the van is booked based on appointment
"Usually, a representative from a neighbourhood will gather a group of interest (about 10 to 20 families) and schedule the date and time with us. We will then drive to their neighbourhood for refills," Oh shared with SAYS.
Even if you don't have a group, that's okay!
"Refiller Mobile also provides door-to-door services, especially for senior citizens or mothers who have to babysit young babies at home. This [service] comes with a handling fee to cover our time and petrol."
It all started when Oh wanted to find a way to reduce clutter
"I always have problems with throwing bottles away, and I remember asking a shampoo brand manager why can't they provide a refill service?" she told SAYS.
"At that time, I didn't know what to do because I didn't know there was an option for refills. Decades later, when I found a zero waste store near my new home, I started to refill my shower gel. To my surprise, the refill products are cheaper and as good as the commercial ones."
Since then, she has expanded her refills to all of her household products. But she often wondered if she was practising a zero waste lifestyle the 'correct way', or if there were ways she could improve.
"I took part in Zero Waste Malaysia's 30 days challenge last October. I wanted to learn from the community and get better. The challenges are not difficult at all, and by following the challenge calendar, I then realised I have imposed new habits into my daily life. I gained so much from the challenge and wanted to give back by volunteering my time to help out at Zero Waste Malaysia," she explained.
Through that organisation, Oh was exposed to Trashpedia — a service where people learn about trash segregation. She met the volunteers and heard voices from the community members: "I want to start, but I don't have a zero waste store near me".
That's when she asked herself: "What if there is a mobile zero waste store that can reach out to them and be accessible? How cool will that be? It will open up an option for them and encourage more people to reduce plastic waste."
When she saw a van for sale, she knew it was time to do something about this drive to make a difference
"I saw @24hrtravellers post [about] their van for sale. I contacted Sam and Rene, went to meet them in person, and told them about my idea. They care about the environment and supported the cause. On the spot, they introduced me to their close friend Rich Samuel who then offered to build the van for me without any T&C. It was such a big gift because I could never find anyone who can build the van the zero waste style better than Rich Samuel," she shared.
"Before we started the build, I reminded Rich to help me minimise the waste. He agreed, and in the end, we only wasted a few old fax papers (because it contained oil and can't be reused), a few pieces of wood that went to his wood recycling bin, and small pieces of aluminium sheets."
"On average, each Malaysian produces 1.2kg worth of trash every day, enough to fill up our Petronas Twin Towers in seven days. Can you imagine the amount of trash we produce and where will it will end up? As Zero Waste Malaysia highlighted, when we throw 'away' things, there is no 'away', it will surely end up somewhere, it could end up in a landfill next to our home or school. And how fair is that to our next generation?"
Here's a list of Refiller Mobile's products and prices: