A quick interview with No Waste To Go, a refill and reuse station based in Danang, Vietnam, with more than 300 items on their product list, from home cleaning products to personal cares and ingredients.
Vietnam is experiencing a plastic pollution dilemma as a result of its rapid economic expansion, urbanisation, and changing lifestyles. In Vietnam, an estimated 3.1 million metric tonnes of plastic garbage are dumped on land each year. Vietnam is also one of the top five countries that pollute the seas with plastic, with at least 10% of this improperly managed garbage leaking into the waterway. By 2030, the amount of leakage might have more than doubled under the status quo (World Bank). Refill and Reuse shops like No Waste To Go are inspiring and supporting people to create a more sustainable lifestyle, where every small action matters.
Participating in the Green Interview today is Hoang Oanh, the owner of No Waste To Go.
Tram Anh: Could you share with us why you started No Waste To Go? Was there any challenge at the beginning? Why did you choose Danang instead of other big cities?
Hoang Oanh: No Waste To Go was launched with the goal of reducing waste and overconsumption. I was passionate about helping people minimize their environmental footprint and unnecessary consumption while providing essential daily products. The real opportunity emerged as consumers became more eco-conscious and sought sustainable options. By offering refillable options for everyday products such as cleaning supplies, personal care products, and food items, I saw an opportunity to provide consumers with a more sustainable and affordable option. I believe that it's important to make sustainable living accessible to everyone, and by offering refillable products at competitive prices, I am able to do just that.
Starting the business had its challenges. One of the biggest challenges we have faced is a lack of awareness and education about the importance of sustainability and reducing waste. This can make it difficult to sell to locals who may not fully understand the benefits of using refillable products or the environmental impact of single-use packaging. It took a lot of patience and perseverance to stay true to our mission but eventually it all pays off.
The reason for choosing Danang was simple, because I lived here.
Tram Anh: What is your view on integrating sustainability factors in your business model? Do you think this creates more challenges or benefits for your business?
Hoang Oanh: For us, the question is not about integrating sustainability, because the core value of the business is sustainability so the first and foremost important factor of our business is sustainability itself. It's not an option that you can consider to integrate or not, it is a must, a prerequisite, the reason the business existed. While it does come with challenges, such as sourcing eco-friendly products and educating customers, we must face it and sail on. Nevertheless, it also offers significant benefits. Our commitment to sustainability has set us apart, attracted environmentally conscious consumers, and built a loyal customer base that appreciates our values.
Tram Anh: How do you think your business can encourage customers to change their lifestyle towards a more sustainable one? Do you think Refill/Reuse shops are going to be more popular in the future?
Hoang Oanh: A business must make the sustainable option as easily adaptable and effortless as possible. No one likes changes that are out of their comfort zones. You cannot create so many obstacles (such as price differences, inconvenience, quality differences, ease of use,...) and expect the customer to change their behaviour, their preferences just to be more sustainable. Businesses must think in terms of affordability, accessibility and product quality.I'm not sure given that many major players in the field (or the pioneers) had to close their businesses recently, like the Source Bulk Foods in Singapore, Nada in Canada. But I can see that mainstream supermarkets will adopt this model in certain areas of their operation.
Tram Anh: Could you share with us a story/tips that you think would be beneficial for other entrepreneurs who want to start a business that promotes sustainability?
Hoang Oanh: One tip is to truly believe in your mission. Authenticity builds trust.
Dream Big. Start Small. Stay Focus. Create value. Create Value and keep Creating value.
Fancy Appearance doesn’t help. True value is what makes a business survive.
If you can make it big, do it. If not, start small and improve continuously. Cash flow is the most important thing to make or break a business. So If you're tight on cash flow, take smaller steps, reinvest your profits to expand the business slowly and sustainably.
Tram Anh: What do you foresee in the future of the growth of green businesses/SMEs with social impacts in Vietnam? What kind of support do you hope to receive for businesses like yours to grow more effectively in the future?
Hoang Oanh: The growth of green businesses and SMEs with social impacts in Vietnam is promising. As environmental awareness increases, more consumers are likely to support sustainable initiatives just like in other developed countries. But we also must be careful to not greenwash and be greenwashed.
To grow effectively, businesses like ours would benefit from governmental support, such as incentives for eco-friendly practices, streamlined regulations for sustainable products, and funding for innovative solutions. Collaborations with NGOs, educational institutions, and larger corporations could also play a crucial role in fostering growth.
And just a little bit more from No Waste To Go...
We just opened our community library for kids to come read and borrow books home. We believe giving kids access to books is another way to reach sustainability ;).
And by the way, we do sincerely think that No Waste To Go is just a tiny little shop with minimal or almost zero impact to the whole society and the sustainability's grant scheme. Real changes will only come when there are true actions and stricter, enforceable policies from governments and large corporations. In the meanwhile, each individual can only do so much, to be responsible for one's own action to not create too much stress on the planet.
And check out interesting blogs on Sustainable lifestyle on No Waste To Go's Blog!
You can visit this lovely refill/reuse shop at:
No Waste To Go
88 Bà Huyện Thanh Quan, Ngũ Hành Sơn, Đà Nẵng