Lauren Singer hasn't thrown anything in the trash for four years. By opting for goods that are recyclable, reusable, or compostable, the New Yorker has sworn off landfill altogether. Now, she wants you to do the same.
Singer, along with friend and fellow zero-waste devotee Daniel Silverstein, will open the first zero-waste lifestyle store in NYC (and possibly the entire country), next month. The pop-up shop, Package Free, will live in Williamsburg from May 1 to July, stocking eco-friendly alternatives to any single-use item you can think of: reusable tote bags, compostable toothbrushes, refillable dental floss, natural beauty products in bulk, even skateboards made from ocean plastic. It takes the zero-waste grocery store concept that's gaining popularity in Europe a step further by tackling all the other stuff that we buy that's needlessly wrapped in plastic.
"What Daniel and I have realized through trying to live a zero-waste lifestyle is that the lifestyle itself is really easy. But finding all of the tools you need requires effort, time, and a bunch of different websites," Singer explains. "We wanted to create a one-stop shop for sustainable living to make it as convenient as possible." Package Free will also have an online marketplace, and the brick-and-mortar outpost could become a permanent Brooklyn fixture if demand proves high.
More than a store, it will serve as a hub for information on green living. iPads sprinkled throughout will tell shoppers where every product comes from, how it's made, and how it can be easily incorporated into any routine. Singer and Silverstein handpicked each brand based on its commitment to ending the global trash problem, and the duo will be working the store to answer any questions. An adjoining event space will host classes like DIY soapmaking, sewing, and clothing repair 101, and make-your-own pasta, to teach people how to craft their own alternatives to items that are usually wrapped in plastic.
"We think of it less as a lifestyle store and more as a 'change your lifestyle' store. We want to show that sustainable, zero-waste living is simple, cost-effective, and sexy," says Singer. "We want everyone who comes in to not just buy products but to get involved in this community we're trying to build."
A community of New Yorkers equipped with totes in one hand and DIY beauty products in the other? Sounds pretty perfect to us.
Your zero-waste starter shopping list
If you're looking to dip your toes in the zero-waste waters, you may not want to jump right into reusable toilet paper and compost bins right away. Here are Singer's top picks for the essentials that every environmentalist-in-training needs. Add 'em to your shopping list, and I'll meet you in Williamsburg on May 1.
- Life Without Plastic Stainless-Steel Straws, $10.95 (set of 4)
- Brush With Bamboo Plant-Based Toothbrush, $15.99 (set of 4)
- Ecoffee Organic Reusable Coffee Cup, $12.25
- Life Without Plastic Stainless-Steel Lunch Container, $19.95
- BKR Glass Water Bottle, $35.00
- The Simply Co. Laundry Powder Detergent, $20.00
- Zero-Waste Daniel Organic Cotton T-Shirt, $65.00