Green.Org had the chance to sit down with Daniel Tando, the founder of Ohmmm Care, to learn about how he started his plastic free company that creates products for health and beauty.
Ohmmm Care’s products are carefully made in small batches and featuring Asian natural ingredients steeped in history and culture. They believe in giving back to the community and safeguarding the environment which is why they only utilize reusable or naturally degradable materials for packaging.
Let’s get to know Daniel a little bit better.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I’m an accidental entrepreneur focused on developing sustainable solutions to help improve the health & lives of generations of users globally. Currently based in Singapore and originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, I am 49 this year and married with no kids.
Prior to diving into entrepreneurship, I worked for the regional headquarters of various US-based multinationals as well as the global headquarters of Singapore-based small & medium enterprises (SMEs) in various Corporate Finance and leadership functions for over 25 years. While I had the intention to run my own business at some point in my career, the actual idea for a business only came very recently. This coincided with various serendipitous life encounters & moments to combine the means as well as a strong motivation to move in this direction. That’s why I consider myself as somewhat of an accidental entrepreneur.
Spending some years in the consumer goods industry and seeing the wild variability in quality and the amount of single-use plastic waste the products generate stirred my interest in looking for consistently better and lower-waste /zero-waste solutions. After leaving the corporate world, I co-founded Ohmmm Care, with a view to provide consumers with credible & consistent high-performance, high-quality, and sustainable personal care solutions.
What is a fun fact about you?
I’m fluent in the national languages (English, Indonesian, and Mandarin) of almost 2 billion people! Growing up, I had the good fortune of taking part in the educational systems of 3 different countries: Indonesia, Singapore, and the United States.
An integral part that comes with learning the 3 different languages, both academically and socially, is the exposure to different cultures & values. These helped shape my outlook on life, which to most who know little of me may feel it’s somewhat neither east nor west, but which I treasure as a unique confluence.
Bonus fun fact: I only receive one and the same present for my birthday & Christmas every year! They’re only 2 days apart, that’s why. No complaints though, as over the years, I have received far more beyond material presents than I can ever give!
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
I see 3 main reasons that climate change & sustainability is an extremely important topic. First, these issues affect every single aspect of life on planet Earth, be it humans, animals, plants, or all other parts of its geological & physical environment.
While the clearest & most present danger is the human existential crisis we face because of climate change, the planet consists of an interdependent ecosystem. The claims about nature going about its business of adjustment & recovery post-human civilization may very well be true, but it is quite possible that Earth’s ecosystem as we know it could also collapse entirely.
To humans, the survival of the human race is naturally the paramount consideration. Second, we are very near or already at a tipping point as far as preserving the planet and human civilization as we know it, before climate change & unsustainable development / consumption completely and irreversibly changes everything for the worst. The window of opportunity to stop a complete catastrophe is still open, although it may be a very narrow one and closing by the minute!
There needs to be an urgency of mindset change & meaningful action by a significant portion of the population. Combatting climate change requires imperfect but voluminous action! Third, human activities are responsible for driving a lot of these changes, and only active human intervention can rebuild & restore this planet into a livable and pleasant one. It is pure fantasy, however attractive the proposition, to think that nature on its own can compensate for the trillions of tons of carbon emissions mankind pumped into the atmosphere over the last 250 years. It is also the height of irresponsibility to go on with life thinking that it will.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
I really prefer to talk about hope rather than vision, because hope motivates me to action while a vision has many moving parts beyond my control that can become quite abstract sometimes. It’s my earnest hope that a decade from now, the personal care will practice true & end-to-end circularity in the entire supply chain, and that both consumers & producers take ownership and pull their weight within their parts of the ecosystem to sustain the circularity.
I also hope (and I admit this is wishful thinking on my part) that the industry will completely eliminate single-use plastic packaging so that consumers will have one less major health hazard to contend with. Keeping in mind that micro and nano-plastics in our bloodstream contributes to higher incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and hormonal imbalance which gives rise to a variety of chronic illnesses.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
There are three (or maybe two, depending on one’s current thinking about climate change & sustainability) things everyone can do to make a difference. First, if one is a climate change skeptic, be it about the science or the difference a person can make, then start reading up different research & viewpoints, open up one’s perspective & thinking, and begin questioning one’s assumptions & the status quo. A mindset change is a prerequisite for meaningful, tangible actions to come. Everyone has an important role to play in slowing climate change!
Second, take action now! The urgency is absolute. The human race needs to do something, a lot of things, within the very limited time window we have in order to effectively slow down climate change and avoid a catastrophe. Imperfect but informed action eats perfect philosophizing & knowledgeable inaction for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day, any day!
Third, support sustainable brands, businesses, and innovations! I’ll be honest that greenwashing is prevalent in the industry, mostly plaguing larger, legacy, multinational incumbents, but also a number of small/medium businesses gunning for pure profits. However, the majority of sustainable brands have honest folks as the driving force, doing their level best to ensure ethical sourcing, healthy & natural ingredients and clean & safe manufacturing processes, and paying fair & living wages.
These businesses are the potential game-changers in terms of scaling & speeding the fight against climate change within the existing global capitalist system because they have a lot more opportunities to influence change across the end-to-end supply change than most individuals would. Support them with tangible actions, such as buying their products that you need to use, liking / following their social media pages, giving their products & innovations honest, positive shout-outs & recommendations, or telling family & friends about them & their products / services to generate word-of-mouth buzz.