I have been blessed to be a grandparent and suddenly, as cheesy as it sounds, all of the little things meant something different. She is almost three now and he is one.
I should have done more when I was younger, but with a husband and four step daughters convenience outweighed sustainability. Meals were served on paper plates, mouths wiped by paper napkins, and food stored in plastic containers and zip-loc bags. We purchased water bottles and paper towels like it was the end of the world, never wanting to run out of either of those. We have a small house that I bought when I was single, and in my wildest dreams I never imagined that my family of six would be living here. We had to move the table out to eat and only two people could manage to get up during dinner (these were lovingly referred to as the “bitch seats”). We are a pretty normal family: kids came over to our house every other weekend and Wednesday’s and the oldest moved in when she was 15. We recycled, but that’s about it. I wish I had been more aware at that time. I would have loved to instill these values and ideas in the girls when they were young. The oldest is 25 and the youngest is now 20.
A little more than two and half years ago I was helping my Mother-In-Law move, and her sister told me she made her own laundry detergent. This was amazing to me; I had no idea you could do that. I had spent a few years as crazy coupon lady, so I was stocked up on a lot of things, but once I was out I started making everything. Once you understand all the toxins in beauty and cleaning products, it is truly shocking. According to data from the federal Food and Drug Administration, nearly 1 in 5 cosmetic products contains a substance that generates formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen. I made the laundry detergent, then lotions, toner, hairspray, shampoo, bath salts, sugar scrubs, chapstick, dish washer tablets, hand soap, and the list goes on. Once you start it’s so easy to keep going and cheaper than purchasing at the store. The downfall or mistake I made was using plastic containers for most of the items I made, but it was the cheapest and easiest to get, once again a slave to convenience.
Late 2016 was again a new chapter in my life once I learned about all of the lingering issues with plastic. My husband and I were going to start our first garden bed in the spring and were excited to grow our own food (I have been a vegetarian for 22 years). I was hearing more about zero waste and problems with recycling and pollution in the Ocean. I purchased stainless steel straws, reusable napkins, bees wrap, produce bags, and starting remembering to take my reusable bags into the grocery store. I loved all of these new tools to use less and create less trash but some were actually still made out of unsustainable fabrics or materials. I thought there must be something even better. So I started sewing and making my own products out of organic cotton and/or repurposed fabric.
My goal and dream is to eventually open a physical store with all of the items I have now, plus bulk food products and bulk ingredients, so that people can make their own items, such as the laundry detergent. I would love to have classes and demonstrations on these as well. But for now you will be able find Empty Bin Zero Waste products for sale online, at farmers markets, fairs, and select retailers in Akron and surrounding communities. Every reusable item is one less wasted resource, one less item in the trash bin. Just one step at a time and we can change the world for future generations.
Founder, Empty Bin Zero Waste