On beginning to live zero waste
"I went home one day after class to make dinner. I opened my fridge and for the first time, saw that every single thing in there was packaged in plastic. I realized that I had been protesting against the oil and gas industry for two years—but every single day, through my consumption choices, I was subsidizing and supporting this industry that I hated. It’s not just being mad at the government or big business. I was directly contributing to this industry that was totally destroying the environment. That was the moment that I decided to stop using plastic.
I started Googling, ‘How to have plastic-free everything,’ and at the time, there was nothing. There was no Package Free Shop, no way to buy your way out of plastic.
It was the first time in my entire life and through years of being deeply obsessed with environmental sustainability, that I turned the mirror onto myself as opposed to deflecting all of the world’s problems onto other people.
Living in alignment with personal values
I asked myself, 'What are my values? How do they translate into the world? Am I living my day-to-day life in alignment with them?' A zero waste lifestyle was my way to actionably and tangibly live every part of my life in a way that aligns with a sustainable lifestyle.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that I can be my individual self while still living a zero waste, sustainable lifestyle.
My trash for a year fits into a mason jar. The jar is representative of not what I expect everyone in the world to do; but the idea of, ‘What are the things that we maybe overlook on a day-to-day basis?’ I view them as opportunities for us to do better.
On inspiring others to live sustainably
You have to be willing to take a little bit of hate in the short term for the long-term benefit of inspiring the people around you. To me, it was totally worth it. It made me a better communicator, more connected to my pillar of beliefs, and while it sucked for a second, it ultimately helped me show other people that, sure, you might feel differently to me—but that’s OK.
Package Free Shop was a way to take these awesome products that were really hard to buy because you had to go to 40 different websites and bring them all together in one central location. And help small producers to grow their businesses.
The reason why I raised venture capital is that one of the most common comments we get from people is that the products we sell are expensive. They’re definitely more money upfront than a Proctor & Gamble or Unilever product. And that’s not fair. We all deserve products that are safe for our homes and bodies and the environment. So I started to look into why that’s the case. Our goal is to distribute to places like CVS, Target, Walmart, basic corner stories, so that it can be as easy and thoughtless as possible to get a sustainable product.
What it comes down to is economies of scale. It’s more expensive to make a product in smaller quantities than when making it in larger quantities. When you look into the supply chains of these sustainable products, you can see that if you make them at larger quantities, you can make them at the same price point or cheaper than most P&G or Unilever products because the products have fewer ingredients and much simpler supply chains.
Sustainable products shouldn’t be more expensive; they’re a basic human right. We want to eliminate the barrier of cost from sustainability.
Human beings are the only creatures on the planet that have the power and capacity to alter the earth in a negative way. No other creature on earth can do that.
If we have the power to do bad, then we also have the power to do good.”