this is how a little plant shop in Punggol turned sustainability into community. 

Littlebotany: a tiny plant shop moving a community toward a bigger cause.

Tucked in a little corner of Punggol is a quaint plot packed with plants – its interior is decorated with knick knacks from travels around the world, and if you’re lucky, you might even meet a chicken or two! To Singapore’s plant-lovers, this space might not be unfamiliar. Although small, it’s especially known for its cozy vibes and sense of community. 

Littlebotany, run by Fendi, 34, is a work of wonder. What started as a place for Fendi to store his plants slowly turned into an underrated environmental and humanitarian movement – one that has brought and continues to bring plant lovers together toward a common cause: sustainability. 

Littlebotany’s small beginnings. 

Littlebotany might have found its roots in 2018, but Fendi’s love for plants long precedes the business. 

“I’ve always loved plants since I was a child. I think I’m very inclined towards nature. Even as a kid, I was always looking at tree leaves when I was in a bus or in a car. If my family lost me, I would always be found under a tree, looking at ceilings, saplings… that’s how I know that I’ve always liked plants.” – Fendi, founder of Littlebotany. 

Having enjoyed gardening for about 15 years, Fendi started out his nursery mainly due to the amount of plants he had at home.

“It got to the point where they were taking up all the space on my dining table. My mom ended up chasing me and my plants out, and we found a plot in Punggol. That’s how I relocated everything. The space required me to register myself as a business – and so I registered Littlebotany as a business.” 

a little logo goes a long way.

Beyond the welcoming space, Littlebotany’s also recognised by its iconic logo on eco-friendly paper bags: an anthropomorphised pot with leaves for hair. In the store’s early days, what made the logo especially memorable was the fact that each one was hand-drawn onto the bags with a marker. Customers are incentivized to reuse these paper bags through promotions and discounts provided by Littlebotany. 

“You bring your own bag. I just put the plants on the table and you sort out how you want to bring it back. We are quite firm on that. (Especially some) aunties and uncles might ask me: can I have a bag? And I’ll be like, no no, no bags. Let’s be green. You can carry the plant back! I really enforce this because I know a lot of countries just stop plastic bag usage, just like that – and it works. ” 

With close to 20,000 plants having been sold, Fendi was also proud to say that all his plants have mostly grown in reused plastic pots. 

“I’m just one person and we (the community) managed to save and reuse 20,000 plastic pots – from the moment Littlebotany started.”

And that’s just the tip of the green-efforts-iceberg. Littlebotany’s Punggol outlet is a testament to sustainability. While building the space, Fendi painstakingly took the time to source for second hand shelves, furniture, and decorations to create the homey vibes everyone knows and loves. 

“I am (a) Carousell king. I have my ways of staying ahead and getting good stuff. So everything here is from Carousell – I think that’s an amazing feat. And what’s available here (in Punggol) is only half of it, the other half is in my other shop.”

Initiatives and new features are also always being tested and implemented to make the store sustainable for everybody. With the reopening of Littlebotany’s Punggol plot in 2023, one of the marked changes made by Fendi was the creation of a Soil Kitchen. Prior to the Soil Kitchen, Littlebotany would sell its soil in plastic ziploc bags – although admittedly not the most sustainable option, it was, at that point, the most viable one. That was until one of his customers inspired him with a brilliant idea. 

“So we have a regular customer that buys a lot of soil from us. Back then, we didn’t have a more sustainable way of selling soil. So what she did was she actually bought her own container – like a big container – and she said: Hey, put all this soil in here I don’t need all the zip locks. That was when I realised, hey, you know, even the soil can be sold in a more sustainable way!  

The entire moment really shocked and made an impression on me, especially since it was a small little girl carrying a really, really big container. And of course, it was a brilliant idea. I hadn’t thought of that. Because of that, we created a soil kitchen where people could bring their own containers.”

The best part? 30% of Littlebotany’s stocks are locally sourced! They are either grown from Southeast Asia or by Fendi’s friends – all of which helps to reduce the business’ carbon footprint and make it more sustainable. 

giving it all back.

With both feet planted firmly in the green cause and business, you’d think Fendi would not have the time for anything else. Since 2018, Littlebotany has expanded to having 3 outlets – in the north, west, and east of Singapore. You’d be glad to know though, that Littlebotany has done so much more. 

The brand often works with humanitarian and animal organisations to give back to the community. In 2023, Littlebotany donated 200 plants to a food bank initiative for families with difficulties. 

“The idea was that the public would come with canned food or dried food to swap with a plant. The food would then go to a food bank for emergencies. So at the end of the day, we had like four to five hundred cans of food, tons of rice, boxes of drinks, and the works. People actually showed up and gave a whole trolley’s worth of food. And all I had to do was put up one plant each for that.” 

botany & community.

There’s no denying Fendi’s passion for a better world. When asked about the best part of Littlebotany, he mentions: “I think it has been fulfilling for me in terms of giving back to the community. That’s my favourite part. Sure, being around plants itself is a bonus. But like if I could branch out to different communities, help everyone from animals to elderly, I think that’s amazing. I think that’s the best part of running my own business – it’s not just about my own business.”

P.S. Littlebotany will be moving to Community Coffee at Jalan Besar Soon! So if you like drinks, vibes, and greenery, be sure to keep your eyes peeled on their social media accounts.

Loved this article? Check out these 12 thrift shops in Singapore for fashionable & sustainable bargains, or head to these 9 flea markets in Singapore! 

siti ayeeshah zaki

Writer, dreamer and explorer. When she’s not writing for Strada Visual Lab, Ayeeshah spends her time reading, skating and living life to her definition of fullest.

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