You can talk about it all you want but truly converting to a zero-waste lifestyle isn't an easy feat. It's an entire overhaul of habits and home items to break and shelve. Add on how expensive the eco-friendly alternatives are in the market, and it's not as palatable to the pockets as it is on paper. An advocate for an environmentally sound, plastic-free life, the challenge to entice more people to jump onto the good fight is a hurdle blogger Trice Nagusara looks to face head-on.
The owner of lifestyle brand Lieu.ph, Trice's store—launched just last March 2019—carries a mix of basic daily essentials from toothbrush, cutlery, lunchboxes, to straws and more, all especially made from reusable and sustainable materials. What sets them apart from other similar brands, though, is that their items aren't just wrapped in a nice handwoven mat package, they're also particularly affordable. In brief, it's the perfect jump-off store for the curious and the newly willing to start their zero-waste life. "[Lieu is a] brand that promises to provide high-quality and affordable alternatives to plastic and other single-use items for everyone’s zero-waste journey—living an environmentally conscious life should not be expensive and inconvenient, especially to those who just started or who want to start," Trice tells Preview.
Get to know more of Lieu, its items, where they're sourced, and how to take care of them as Preview talks to Trice about her brand, below!
Could you tell us about Lieu and how it came about?
"Last year, I decided to lessen my use of plastic through reusable items starting with bamboo straws and bamboo cutlery. I noticed how pricey the other reusable products are, which made me realize how unconvincing their expensive prices are to persuade someone to make a switch or to be an environmentally conscious person. Hence, on March 2019, I came up with Lieu, a brand that promises to provide high-quality and affordable alternatives to plastic and other single-use items for everyone’s zero-waste journey. Living an environmentally conscious life should not be expensive and inconvenient, especially to those who just started or who want to start."
What's the history behind the brand's name?
"My first name is Neil (yup) and when you read it upside down, it says Lieu, which actually means 'instead' or 'an alternative to something.'"
Could you take us through your production process? Where do you source your materials from?
"My bamboo products are made from real whole bamboo stalks grown in El Nido, Palawan. They are crafted by the locals and made sure to use only natural bamboo stalks, without any chemicals or pesticides.
While my coconut bowls are made from discarded coconut shells. They are cut, sanded, cleansed, and polished by a local family from Guiguinto, Bulacan.
On the other hand, my floor mats are 100% made from fabric scraps. They are made by the housewives of Quezon City and Caloocan City—the loofahs are made by them, too. Also, new products, such as natural abaca kitchen sponge and reusable cotton pads, made by the housewives of QC and CC, are coming real soon!"
How long would you say is the shelf life of your products?
"Its shelf life depends on how you use and how you take care of them. Our bamboo and wooden products are all natural, which makes them delicate especially when soaking or keeping them wet for too long. But with proper care, you can use them for years. Just remember the following steps: use, wash, dry, repeat."
Is there a proper way of cleaning/taking care of them?
"Cleaning Lieu’s bamboo and wooden products is just like how you wash your flatware sets at home. Just make sure to ALWAYS dry immediately for keeping."
Could you describe the lifestyle that fits your brand?
"Lieu is for everyone who wants to make a switch: from using too much disposables to using reusables.
It’s for travelers who prefer using lightweight reusable items; for foodies who love to try everything yet are trying to lessen their waste; for on-the-go people who got zero time to dine in and just want their food to-go (Lieu has collapsible containers for this); for moms who wish to use all natural and vegan products for their kids; and of course, for every milk tea lover out there!"
What advice would you give to someone who's slowly easing her way into a zero-waste lifestyle?
"No journey is perfect. It’s okay to take little steps at a time, remember: one small step can greatly reduce your footprint; it’s all about little changes. "
As a brand, how can you encourage more people to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle?
"Switching to a more sustainable lifestyle isn’t just about yourselves, it’s about the environment; those stunning views we love staring at or capturing and posting on social media; those cute animals around us; the ocean; the marine life; it’s about our family, friends, loved ones, and our future kids. If we don’t take actions now, all these things would be gone in just a snap. Right now, Philippines is the 3rd largest contributor to ocean plastic, and the question is: Would you still surf and dive in an ocean full of plastic instead of fishes? Even small steps help, let’s start the change now."
What's next for Lieu?
"More locally made products to give locals more opportunity, and more alternative items to reduce our use of plastic."
Do you have a physical store that people can go to, or is everything online?
"We don’t have a physical store yet (hopefully soon), but some of our products are available at The Community Trade in BGC. If you’re ordering online and you’re concerned about the plastic packaging, don’t worry, we’re shipping our items to our Metro Manila customers, plastic free."