What was that? We're opening a zero waste store? Yes, it's true!
What is a zero waste store you ask?! A zero waste store is a store that offers sustainable alternatives to everyday items. All of the products are plastic free and can either be recycled or composted when you're done using them. This means that when you buy something from a zero waste store NOTHING gets sent to the landfill. It's pretty amazing.
But let me start at the beginning...
One year ago, Ben was making his Broadway debut and I was opening a new off-Broadway musical. Here's a pic that was taken at Ben's opening night party in New York City on March 5th, 2020:
And then on March 12th, 2020 everything changed. The pandemic shut down the entire theatre industry, my show closed, and Ben's show was put on hold. Cut to June 2020, I decided to apply for a masters in the sustainability field. This may sound super random to you, but the past few years, I've become increasingly passionate about the environment. I was suddenly given all this time, and theatre was still shut down for the foreseeable future so I figured, why not?
To be honest, I didn't think I'd get accepted to any graduate programs. I have an undergrad degree in musical theatre and a resume full of musicals, but surprise! I did! And I started pursuing a Master of Natural Resources in Global Sustainability at Virginia Tech.
I should mention that pre masters degree, Ben and I had started making small changes in our household to lessen our footprint on the planet. We've been eating plant-based in our home for over two years, we started shopping in the bulk bins at the grocery store, we use produce bags and grocery bags and stasher bags (so many bags!), and we try to be conscious consumers whenever possible.
Why we decided to start a zero waste store:
As I started my program, I wanted to share what I was learning with others. I suddenly became very aware of how unsustainable our current take-make-waste economy (an economy where things are made to be used and then thrown away) is and I wanted to try to figure out how to change it. Ben and I started looking up ways to create a more circular economy (an economy that focuses on reduce, reuse, and recycle) and the idea of opening our own zero waste store was born. We decided to call the store The Unwaste Shop.
We'll be selling bath and body products, kitchen, and cleaning essentials. Most of the products are completely plastic free and all of the brands that we carry are small businesses that align with our values. We'll also have a bulk refill station in store where people will be able to bring in their own containers (or purchase one of ours) and fill up on liquid shampoo, laundry powder, dish soap, and more! We're opening our online store in mid-April and our Chicago storefront the second week of May and we are SO excited!
We can't wait to start this journey with you all! Between testing out products, building our website, and trying to figure out how to use Instagram (yes I know I should get a TikTok), it's been quite a whirlwind, but we feel so supported by our family, friends, and community.
More blog posts to come as we document our weeks leading up to the store opening! In the meantime, let us know if you have any questions or comments below!
So excited for you and Ben…what a wonderful dream and next chapter! I will definitely be a customer! Wishing you all the best … Hugs,
Kathie Holwey Patrico
Yaaasss!!! We’ve been trying to reduce our footprint and produce less waste, and its been challenging with the baby almost here! Can’t wait to see what y’all have in stock!
Jess and Ben,
We’re so happy that your dream is coming to fruition! Wishing you much success and tons of fun on your mission to educate the masses as you offer great sustainable products in your shop! We know we are learning a lot!
So glad we’re a part of your journey!
Mom and Dad
SOOO exciting!!! Jessica, your dad shared your new endeavor with my husband…who shared it with me, because “Leslee is into this kind of thing!” I AM…I’ll be your biggest fan here in the Flint area and with friends and family online! This is GREAT!! God bless your every effort! (Love and miss you!) Leslee
Jessica and Ben,
We are so excited for you both and your future endeavors. Looking forward to seeing and purchasing your products.
What an amazing concept !!
Love you both.
Larry and Jeff