It is undeniably obvious that our environment is worsening. Even a quick scroll through our social media would highlight at least one post about how much danger it is in. Who hasn’t heard that the Maldives will sink in a few years? What are we handing over to our future generations?
These thoughts are unnerving to mull over. It is disheartening to ponder on whether your sole contribution could even make an impact.
That being said, it is soothing to see how much we are aware of this, as a community. We are slowly, but finally moving forward to a more sustainable environment. It is times like these that we have to truly appreciate those who take a step further ahead than the rest of us.
Zero Waste Maldives
Meeting the lovely couple behind this amazing initiative was truly a pleasure.
Afrah and Hamsha established Zero Waste Maldives after discovering the waste management system that is set up here in the Maldives. Finding out that there is no proper arrangement for it made them conscious of how severe the problem is. Frustration was replaced with an urge to act on it as they launched Zero Waste Maldives in October 2018.
Their first step was to provide alternatives to tackle the big four; bottles, bags, straws and toothbrushes, as they are the most difficult to dispose of. Simultaneously, they proactively began to participate in events and conduct sessions to create more awareness about single use plastics, how to manage waste and of their alternatives. Just recently, they were also successful in establishing refill stations here in the Maldives where you can fill your carry on water bottle, instead of purchasing plastic water bottles.
As for their next step, Afrah and Hamsha are planning to connect everyone who are working towards a more sustainable environment to a single platform; their website. In addition to creating an eco-system with people who share the same concern towards the environment, the website will showcase the products and services of said people so that one day if you decide to invest in a more environment friendly alternative, all you have to do is visit zerowastemaldives.com.
On top of that, they are also preparing to start an NGO in the near future and are looking forward to bringing in genuine members that will help them with future projects.
“The ultimate purpose of zero waste is that nothing goes to landfill, nothing ends up in the ocean and nothing gets incinerated or open burnt.
It is a very ambitious goal but it has to be the goal so that you will think about reducing drastically. We need to think about living minimally as well as leaving the smallest possible footprint.”
Growing up in a household where it was a norm for older siblings to pass down their clothes to the younger, really exposed Shaifa to the concept of secondhand clothes. But it was while she was studying abroad that the idea of starting a secondhand shop in the Maldives came to light.
With her family and friends supporting her, Shaifa launched Preloved Maldives in July 2019 and the response was spectacular.
She begins the process of selling secondhand clothes by collecting them from donators, paying RF5 for each clothing. She then thoroughly checks, washes them and divides in batches. After categorizing them Shaifa posts photos on her Instagram page. At every stage of the process, she believes that transparency is very important; staying true to the whole purpose, being true to the donators, what she posts and being true and transparent to her customers.
As Shaifa explained, one of the main purposes of Preloved Maldives is to normalize secondhand shopping and to make people more aware of how secondhand shopping is the more sustainable way to go. The other is to contribute to creating a circular economy here in the Maldives.
“When you make people more aware of the pollute aspect of the fashion industry, we believe that people will be more interested in buying secondhand and they are more likely to become conscious consumers. I think it is very important for the environment and for the planet. Given that Maldives is such a small country with such a small population, I believe that it is very possible. Maybe not completely eliminate waste in the fashion industry but at least minimize it.”
In the future, Shaifa plans to introduce upcycling faulty clothes and creating and implementing solid campaigns to make people aware about how secondhand can be a more sustainable way.
Combining the desire to create something of their own and their concern for the environment, this power couple began designing and producing handmade candles, decorative stones and environment friendly soap bars back in 2017.
After much research and development, in April 2019 they launched the brand name Ogaa which solely focuses on bath and body products.
Ogaa the word comes from ‘ogaa therikan’ (compassion or caring) and so far, Azu and Hussain have introduced soap bars, shampoo bars and conditioner bars under the brand. The ingredients used in these products are all natural, with no animal testing and are 100% bio degradable; the packaging is plastic free.
For consumer confidence, they have acquired ISO 9001: 2015, the international standard for quality management during February 2019 and got certified. To boot to that, they also test PH level of their soaps and the Total Fatty Matter (TFM) which determines the quality of the soap. Their soap is 80.0% which makes the soap Grade A.
“We are very careful and thorough before introducing any product. We do the research, we formulate and we test them. We launch a product only when we are confident. Even when it comes to designing! It will be very easy to produce a plain soap. But we both love playing with colors and we love coming up with creative ideas and putting the effort for our products.”
While overwhelmed by how people reacted to their product as everything went out of stock, although discreet about it, Azu and Hussain announced that within the next 6 months, they plan to launch new products.
“We are environment conscious and we will be throughout.”
Although the area the three of them focus on are completely different, the ultimate goal to a more sustainable environment is not.
It’s time we all do our part in lending a hand. A single action, no matter how small it is, can change the course of the entire cause. Imagine how many people would consider accepting a plastic bag just because it’s this once? Imagine if everyone had refused?
Let’s work towards a more sustainable environment for the Maldives together.