TOKO ORGANIS: From Research to Pioneering Zero Waste Store
by Salve Canale
Bandung, Indonesia, home of the non-profit Yayasan Pengembangan Biosains dan Bioteknologi (YPBB), one of the pioneering Zero Waste organizations in Indonesia, is also home to Zero Waste stores. Refill centers, bulk stores, and organic stores dot the area. Pioneering of these stores is YPBB’s very own, Toko Organis (organic shop).
Established in 2014, Toko Organis has been selling everyday products without relying on sachets and other single-use plastic packaging, long before Zero Waste became a buzzword in these parts of Indonesia.
Prior to launching the store, YPBB conducted a simple research on the waste generated by households in the community. They found that plastic sachets and other plastic packaging made up a significant fraction of inorganic household waste.
To address this, they thought of piloting a store that would sell basic needs without using plastic. They believed that if such a store existed, sachet consumers could make the switch. Hence, the birth of Toko Organis.
Toko Organis carries products that are available in the market, as well as environmentally friendly products produced by the community, such as organic bath soaps, loofahs, bamboo cutlery, bamboo coffee filters, reusable shopping bags, and so on. They also refill products that are usually bought in sachets ranging from detergents, clothing fragrances, shampoo, body wash, sauces, and snacks. Among their best sellers are the lerak seeds (soapberry), which is known as a natural detergent.
Unlike typical Zero Waste stores criticized for being niche, Toko Organis is affordably priced. Their products are easy on the pocket—as though the consumers are buying in the conventional markets, but without the single-use plastics.
But while it is a store—and the pioneer Zero Waste store in Indonesia, no less—Toko Organis has no plans of expanding or opening other branches. “[What we want to be is] become a part of a Zero Waste store collective or Zero Waste store alliance which we help organize and have a big impact on the climate of mainstream business,” said Muhammad Fatchurrahman, known to friends as Fatik, Business Developer at Toko Organis.
He explained: “YPBB is an organization that focuses on environmental issues, especially on waste problems. We know that there are many mainstream movements today, especially in business practice that already understand environmental issues. We want to be directly involved in this circle to participate in eliminating today’s wasteful business-as-usual practices and mainstreaming a more sustainable business model.”
Initiated as part of the YPBB Zero Waste lifestyle program, Toko Organis serves as a disruptive business model to promote a Zero Waste lifestyle. Aside from selling products, the store offers waste management tools to help customers expand Zero Waste in their respective households. They have organic management tools like takakura composting box and biopore drills – used for making biopori holes for composting – as well as refill bins.
According to Fatik, Toko Organis is currently working on a toolkit on how to adopt Zero Waste principles in a business setting. The book discusses environmental issues and business practices 101. “Almost all of the YPBB program participants want to access our Zero Waste supporting tools to live a Zero Waste lifestyle. So, Toko Organis aims to facilitate this by making our Zero Waste products and methods accessible,” Fatik said.
Fatik shared that consumers who have visited their store have positively reacted to it. “They think that if there were more of us, they won’t need to worry about the amount of waste that they generate every time they shop,” he said.
Like many other shops, Toko Organis was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For two months, they had to close their physical shop. “In those two months, the management team tried to make adjustments in their online store to accommodate their customers. We continue to operate via delivery service,” Fatik said.
Toko Organis eventually reopened, putting in place all the necessary health protocols.
“The pandemic has shifted most of the activities online, so it provides opportunities for initiatives like Toko Organis and other bulk/Zero Waste stores in Indonesia to gain momentum and spread our impact even more,” Fatik said. “People are starting to see that this is a growing business, that there are better ways to shop.”
This article is part of the book, BUSINESS UNUSUAL: Enterprises paving the way to Zero Waste, a collection of feature articles on select enterprises in Asia Pacific that practice and promote Zero Waste principles. Published by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, the publication may be downloaded for free at no-burn.org/business-unusual