A Star Trek reference pauses the conversation. “We’re like the Borg. Do you know the Borg?” asks Tanamera co-founder and managing director Mohamad Faisal Ahmad Fadzil. “Ah, you’re not a Trekkie. I love sci-fi. A dark cube several times bigger than earth showed up in NASA’s pictures of the sun earlier this year and people were joking that the Borgs were here. [It was a glitch in the image.] The Borgs are an alien collective — they have a hive mind. That’s like us at Tanamera.”
However, unlike the cybernetic colony, people who join the Tanamera team are not indoctrinated into abandoning independent thought or their sense of individuality. Rather, they are (voluntarily) united by a shared purpose and a single vision — to develop the homegrown label of all-natural spa products into the best possible business it can be. That not only refers to the generous use of quality raw materials sourced from tropical rainforests but also the desire to honour traditional Asian remedies, which leverage the healing properties of herbs and essences, and to do this with great respect to the environment. The company’s very name — which means “red earth” in Malay — is a constant reminder of this vow, which has been kept by Faisal and his siblings, Faridah and Fauziah, since the brand’s founding in 2000.
“Zero waste is a concept we want to get serious about this year and the whole team has been working hard to launch the Tanamera Zero Waste Initiative,” says Faisal. “We are starting with a selection of product refills available at our stores in Starling Mall and Sunway Pyramid in Petaling Jaya, where customers can bring their own containers to be weighed, sterilised and filled with the product of their choice. They can request as little or as much as they need, charged by the gramme. We are in talks with places like zero waste and bulk foods store The Hive to carry our bulk products too. We hope to expand this idea and drastically reduce the amount of waste Tanamera produces, such as single-use dispensers or disposable carriers.”
It might take time to apply the Zero Waste Initiative across the company’s range of products and points of sale, but the siblings have not been sitting idle or paying eco-friendliness mere lip service all these years. Packaging is unavoidable in this business, but not all plastics are created equal. Tanamera uses a respectable grade of the material that has a higher degree of recyclability and less toxins in its manufacturing process.
“Well-meaning people often suggest we reuse our containers to be sustainable, but we can’t just clean them out and refill them because of cross-contamination issues and related regulations — it’s literally against the law,” says Faisal, who is also a founding member and director of FA Herbs Sdn Bhd and the Malaysian Herbal Council. “Recycling, likewise, is a nice, lofty idea but from a pragmatic point of view, it uses a great deal of resources. But we try our best. The paper we use is fully recycled and unbleached, the minimal transport cartons we use are converted into display elements, so we don’t throw them away after a single use, and we have several eco-friendly solutions in existence as well as in the works.”
For the full story, pick up a copy of The Edge Malaysia (Sept 7, 2020) at your nearest news stand. Save by subscribing to us for your print and/or digital copy.