ARF talks to Shane Rau, Founder of My Planet Natural and an ARF member.
Tell us a bit about MPN, what is it all about?
My Planet Natural is a Singapore online store looking for conscious consumers. Our focus is fairly simple. We provide consumer products for skin, body and home that have a significant alignment with creating a better tomorrow.
You would be forgiven for thinking we are all about natural products. While we do have many natural products.
My Planet Natural is about safer choices for people and the planet.
Our main goals are raising awareness around conscious consumer values and providing brands and products that are considerate of some of the challenges we are confronted with today. While we hold those who entirely abstain from certain lifestyle choices in high regard, we also try to focus on those that apply a practical, ethical approach to their consumer choices.
Vegans are well known as conscious consumers because they are passionately aware and absolute. Whilst we offer a range of plant-based products, we seek to develop wider bases that might be drawn to aspects of conscious consumerism values.
The hope that a more flexible conscious consumerism approach may attract a wider group of people to change some or more of their habits – producing a more productive outcome.
We choose made with love over mass-produced – brands that have built their reputation on sustainable and ethical business values. They prioritise the social, environmental, ecological and political impact of their business on people and the planet.
I believe that positive consumer change starts businesses and brands that are working to address one or more of the elephants in the room – we have some world-class examples, and we are out to share their stories in Singapore and the wider region.
We also work hard to add value to the conversation around single-use plastic packaging. It is of personal importance to me and so relevant to ASEAN consumer markets the Pacific ocean. 5 ASEAN nations rank among the top 10 countries polluting our oceans.
Singapore has a great opportunity and a long list of incentives to be leaders of change concerning single-use plastic. As a Singapore business, we want to be part of that movement. We use green eco packaging ourselves and all of our brands are committed to the environment. One of our brands “ecostore” use sustainable zero carbon plant-based plastic vessels across much of their product range.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your origins
Personally, my origins are from both Singapore and New Zealand, born to parents from both countries. I grew up like many New Zealanders, endowed with a pristine environmental playground that we were taught to respect and care for. It would be fair to say that My Planet Natural reflects being raised in both countries and cultures, an odd duality of consumerism and personal environmental responsibility.
Many New Zealand brands are currently excelling internationally on the back of conscious values, these are both intrinsic and ingrained at every opportunity within their businesses. This did not happen overnight, but perhaps when tourism New Zealand exported the 100% Pure NZ branding 20 years ago, some businesses leaders thought it right to live up to the brand.
New Zealand does have an abundance of experienced environmental leadership in business and for some time now that includes consumer-based retail manufacturers. Malcolm and Melanie Rands founders of ecostore and Elizabeth Babalich founder or Antipodes skincare and, 2018 Westpac Bank New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year are a few excellent examples among many within the conscious space.
What role does My Planet Natural play in the greener and healthier ecosystem in Singapore?
Helping Singaporeans develop and maintain a conscious appetite without going crazy. Our role is unravelling the complexities of conscious consumerism without obligating people to ethical debates, claiming moral superiority or identity politics of any dominant culture. It really is not that easy to shop consciously – it is way too complexed.
We want change wherever we can find it in your shopping basket.
Perhaps this is also one of our key roles – maintaining optimism that consumers will make choices that reflect their desire for a better world. Simply there are more of us that express pessimism toward the idea consumers might effect change through their purchasing habits. The truth is how we shop as consumers matters and brands not doing their part are more than aware of this.
When did you first start working with ARF?
We recently joined ARF, but we have been talking with them for almost a year. Discovering synergies and common values allowed us to collaborate with ARF, and we are genuinely excited about that.
As an ARF member, what have been some of the benefits to you and why would you suggest other companies to join?
I have met some incredible people and business owners within the ARF community. A few months back I was introduced to Scott Larsen from Nuzest and David Ward of Bambooloo Asia. Meeting other people like this from within the community that are successfully affecting change was great. It was an absolute pleasure meeting these guys.