One bottle for the rest of your life

Urgent change is needed in the way we view and manage plastic and waste in order for us to be environmentally sustainable.

Jul 17, 2021

A fish trapped in discarded plastic. Pope Francis recalls the annual Sea Sunday occurrence inviting everyone to take good care of our seas and oceans. (Vatican News)

By Sherril Netto

Pope Francis makes many references to the need to care for oceans and seas in his encyclical Laudato Sì’ (On Care for Our Common Home). Speaking after the Angelus on July 11, which was ‘Sea Sunday’, the Holy Father once again reiterated the importance of caring for the sea and its ecosystem with these words, “Take care of the health of the sea: no plastic in the sea!”

For Jon Lee, it was a first-hand account of witnessing the damages that retail consumption can do to the environment, especially the ocean, that stirred him to make a difference. “I was then working in the retail industry and during a trip on one of our Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, I saw huge masses of plastic waste that was as big as an island. That image never left me.”

The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns that ensued enabled Jon to introspectively re-evaluate how his role and business has been contributing towards the overall good of society at large. This inspired him to set up Re{me}dy, one of the few refilleries in Malaysia. Established in January this year, 80 per cent of the store is created of upscaled / reused material, which rebels against retail trends that beg for constantly new builds and themes. All the furniture in the store is made from corrugated cardboard material, hence making everything biodegradable.

Explaining what a refillery is, Jon said that refilleries do not produce products of their own but create a platform for likeminded brands that want to reduce plastic and packaging while still providing access to their products. As such, Re{me}dy has been working with several different brands, especially Malaysian brands. “I believe that creating a circular economy is the truest extension of our sustainability values and naturally providing a showcase for local brands to reach Malaysians.”

Besides being a platform for these products, Re{me}dy continues to advocate sustainable living and inspire those who may have never considered this lifestyle to take a step towards living a low / zero waste life. One of the store’s concepts is to offer a service where people can drop off their empty bottles, containers and packaging. These items are then sanitised and offered to those who want to use them while purchasing any of the products available in the store.

Urgent change is needed in the way we view and manage plastic and waste in order for us to be environmentally sustainable. Ideally in future, refilleries could be easy-to-access kiosks located in various locations to both promote and support a low / zero waste life amongst Malaysians. As Jon puts it, we need to adapt a ‘One bottle for the rest of your life’ lifestyle. 

The above interview is from an episode of “Grow with Nadia”, a light hearted Instagram Live session started by Nadia Heng, Founder of the Articulate Community and Goodwill Ambassador for New Thessalonian Apostolate. These sessions aim to inspire Malaysians to live a more Jon Lee sustainable lifestyle.

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