We're happy to share the stories and positive work of our Ambassadors in their own words. Our Be Zero Ambassadors bring life to the Be Zero Mission by sharing and inspiring ways to live simple and low-waste lifestyles. In this post, our Ambassador Alli, chats to Julie of the zero waste pop-up shop, Bring Your Own Long Beach!
Hey, Everyone! Be Zero Ambassador Alli here. Like all of you, I’m constantly looking for local resources and business that can help me reduce my waste and overall plastic consumption. Imagine my excitement when I found Julie, a Long Beach local dedicated to inspiring others to making less trash. She started a zero waste pop-up shop in August 2017 which has become an invaluable resource for the community and it’s growing! Here’s more about Julie and her story.
Q: Tell us about yourself and how you became interested in the zero waste movement.
I hadn’t heard of the term “zero-waste” until a little over a year ago. Before that, I would say I was a somewhat eco-conscious consumer. For years I have carried my Klean Kanteen around with me, avoided toxic cleaning products, used reusable shopping bags, cloth napkins at home, and did cloth diapers & wipes for my kids. But in other parts of my life I was wasteful. Particularly with over consumption of things purchased online, buying more food than we could eat, and just in general not being aware of other ways I was creating trash. I borrowed the book “Zero Waste Home” by Bea Johnson from my local library last year and it was a game changer. It opened my eyes to all the ways I could improve, and from then on, I’ve been taking steps to up my zero waste game. I’m still not “zero” and don’t know if that’s possible for me, since I have so many food intolerances, which sometimes forces me to choose some packaged products. But I’m doing what I can, and adding more challenges when I have room to grow.
Q: When / how did BYO LB come about?
Back in March 2016, I met Kelli, the manager of the farmers market in Long Beach to see if I could have a booth of package-free goods. At the time, I was thinking along the lines of food items. Although she was excited about my idea, she said the rule to be a seller at a farmers markets is that you must be the grower of the food. But she was so supportive and suggested that we meet up to talk about other ways to spark a zero waste movement locally. Unfortunately, due to busy life stuff, I wasn’t able to do much right away, so I started with an Instagram account (@bringyourownlongbeach) to get the momentum going.
I had my first “pop-up”, which was a Zero Waste 101 workshop, at the end of August at the Bixby Trading Post in Long Beach. I was so worried that nobody would come, but I had about 15 people that came and they were so excited and encouraging. I also really enjoyed the interaction with people and sharing ideas.
Q: What are interactions like between you and people who haven’t heard of the zero waste movement?
In general, I’ve had mostly positive responses. Sometimes people notice when I’m using a cloth bag in the bulk section and say “Oh, that’s such a good idea!” I try not to be preachy and just do my thing. Sometimes they ask questions, but usually they are just trying to understand why that weirdo is putting leftovers in a mason jar, or if I maybe have a bizarre plastic straw phobia.
Q: Do you think recent legislation regarding the ban on plastic bag has helped raise awareness on overconsumption of single use waste?
Yes, I think it helped! But I feel like some places have figured out a way around the ban. I still see them at restaurants for food take-out, convenience stores, and at farmers markets. Hopefully the ban for Styrofoam and plastic utensils ‘upon request only’ will pass soon so we can keep the momentum going.
Q: What are some challenges you've encountered with your shop and how have you gotten around them?
My day job as a hotel interior designer is such a completely different field, and I’ve never owned a business, so this is a whole new world to me! The hardest part was trying to figure out which forms to file and how to start a business. I’m still going to face more challenges with this one, but I’ll take them as they come. I also find it hard to find the time between work and family, but I keep telling myself that this is just temporary until I can *hopefully* have a permanent shop.
Q: What's your favorite item from BYO LB and which is your most popular?
My most frequently used item (by me) is probably my cloth produce bags but I think I was most excited about getting liquid soaps in bulk. It’s pretty much impossible to find any package-free liquid soaps in the Long Beach area. My most popular selling items are the stainless steel straws and the food truck utensil kits.
Find Julie at @bringyourownlongbeach on instagram and on her website www.byolongbeach.com