Travelling? I hope you make some pretty cool and amazing discoveries. :)
Soon Sing-Suen, Azi Alyce Fuad and Syafiqah Omar have had quite a few, and they might inspire you. As the founders of Sonder Social – “a one-stop shop for all things ethical and sustainable with an Asia Pacific impact” that “focuses on curating collections and products from socially conscious enterprises” – they're always on the lookout for activities, items and gifts with a difference.
But they're up for surprises too. "Our discovery of socially conscious brands is a result of personal travels and gifting. It could be an intentional journey to look for something that is socially impactful, but oftentimes, they were unearthed unexpectedly," admits Suen.
One thrilling example from September 2017 comes to mind. “Syafiqah chanced upon a night market stall in Chiang Mai, Thailand selling handcrafted coasters made from upcycled wood scraps and unwanted plastic bottles. Having little online presence to advertise beyond their domestic markets, the makers mostly sell at local markets.
“We were just under four weeks away from a client’s order at that point in time, and we decided to take a leap of faith and start a partnership with them. We took in over a hundred of their items, helped with their product photography, and pushed their stories in various channels.
“Our client loved them and their items were wiped out in under a month. The brand has now been stocked in at least three other ethical stores in Singapore since we first chanced upon them,” she marvels.
“This remains a beautiful story to tell, as we hope it can create more opportunities for makers in the socially conscious space, and pave the way for more impact in Asia Pacific.”
More about Sonder Social
Sonder Social is a platform that’s also about “social responsibility”, “slow fashion”, “responsible consumerism”, “meaningful gifts”, “eco packaging” and “purposeful brands” – terms that speak to us and can be found in their site.
“We started out in October 2017 as a socially conscious gifting service. We offered subscription boxes for personal gifting, as well as event gifting for corporate or personal events,” explains Suen.
Now they have something new and exciting in store. “We’re transitioning away from subscription boxes,” she announces.
“Having spoken to many customers over the past year, we’ve come to realise that this move would enable more people to take a step into being more socially conscious.
“In the new year, we’ll be launching a new platform where customers can buy individual items or make their own bundles. We’ll continue to release collections, and these can be purchased without a subscription.
“Our event gifting service will continue as well, as we believe this is where the biggest impact can take place.”
Speaking of travelling…
I did start this post by asking if you’re going on a holiday. I wanted to ask Suen for a quick guide that would help me reduce my carbon footprint whenever I travelled or explored a new place. I hope Suen and Sonder Social’s story will encourage you to go beyond the usual landmarks and attractions – and remind you to still be a responsible tourist. :)
Here are Suen’s tips for eco-friendly travelling:
#1 Dine in
“Just by doing so, you can eliminate several one-time-use items such as plastic bottles or cups, takeaway containers, utensils, and the plastic bag that comes along with the order. You can also take the chance to slow down and savour the dining experience at a new place.”
#2 Refuse one-time-use items as much as possible
“Having ice cream? Take the cone. Buying something small? Chuck it into your bag. You’ll be surprised by the many ways you can cut down on adding to the landfill if you make a more conscious decision to do so.”
#3 Gift something socially conscious
“This may not be as difficult as you think. There are various options, such as looking for things made by artisans to support the local traditions and culture. More often than not, this benefits communities that make an honest living out of creating handmade pieces.
“You can also look for items made from natural ingredients, such as chemical-free beauty and body products. Go a step further if you like, and research for ethical co-op stores that you can visit and buy from.”
#4 Visit a social enterprise
“Social enterprises are more visible than ever, and finding one for your itinerary shouldn’t be as tough. Take an eco-tour, or lunch at a café that trains and employs the disadvantaged.”
#5 Bring a water bottle
“It will save you from buying multiple plastic bottles of water that you’ll be throwing away.”
Have a wonderful trip! :)