25 Package-Free Retail, Community Building and Post-Pandemic Shifts to Zero Waste Living with The Tare Shop’s Kate Pepler
Kate Pepler from the Tare Shop was feeling overwhelmed with the doom and gloom narrative of our earth’s health and decided to do something about it. In this episode, we learn how Kate’s lifelong relationship with the water and a move to a coastal town influenced how she sees the world. We discover how Kate’s passions including sailing and environmental education and community building led her to entrepreneurship, we chat about why Kate decided to open a package-free store and cafe, how shopping habits are shifting, why reducing plastic pollution is so important to her, how we can influence the world around us by choosing to support and shop mindfully, and how the interest in reducing waste, and a strong community focus had led to the Tare Shops success.
If you want to learn more about Kate, package free living and shop her carefully curated collection of low waste goods, visit thetareshop.com. Looking to learn more about zero-waste? And the steps you can take to reduce plastic in your life? There are a lot of tips and resources in Kate’s blog. If you want to follow along with Kate on her mission to make package-free living accessible on Instagram at @thetareshop
About the Host
I'm Jennifer Myers Chua. The Host and Producer of the Cost Of Goods Sold podcast. I'm an entrepreneur, a creative, a cookbook fanatic, mother. I have always been interested in hearing people's stories and I've been determined to change the world for as long as I can remember.
You'll find me at home in Toronto deconstructing recipes, listening to podcasts, enjoying time with friends or wandering alone through a big city. I'm excited to have you here. Let's do better, together.
[00:02:29] Jennifer: It’s summer in Bedford, Nova Scotia, and Kate Peppler is teaching sailing as she has been for the last few summers. Having grown up with a love for water and the outdoors. Kate felt like she was in her element and it looked like her future would include spending summers on Canada’s east coast teaching and then sailing south for the winters. But after graduating from university with a degree in sustainability, environmental science and Marine biology. Kate was feeling depressed and overwhelmed by the state of the world.
[00:04:03] Kate: It felt like I spent five years studying all the ways that we just destroying the planet without much like positive focus or here’s what has been done. Here’s what is happening. So after graduating, I started a website called our positive planet, which was really just for like my mental health. The whole purpose behind it was to share environmental success stories to inspire action. When I just get bombarded with the doom and gloom, I kind of just want to bury my head in the sand and ignore it all, or turn on Netflix and not take anything else new in But when I read about other folks doing inspiring things, that’s what really inspires me. So by sharing positive environmental success stories, I was trying to help like drag myself out of that doom and gloom slump. So I, through that, I started reading about these zero waste stores popping up all over and kind of got inspired to try to reduce my own waste.
[00:04:53] Jennifer: And with that, Kate began to look at ways to reduce her own waste, beginning to feel excited about the opportunity to create change. In Halifax where she lived, she was struggling to do so. There was no retail outlet that made plastic free living easy or accessible. And in the off season from sailing, Kate would run around to a variety of shops for a variety of things, without packaging realizing that this isn’t realistic for most people with full-time jobs or families to care for. And through setting some personal challenges for herself when it came to tracking and reducing waste. And blogging about her environmental wins and challenges, Kate began to realize that there was a gap to be filled in her community. And she set out to create a one-stop shop for bulk, grocery and personal care, all package free. And in the years, since The Tare Shop has opened. They’ve expanded, created a strong community following and Kate has continued teaching. Something she loves to do. Although now she teaches individuals, schools, and companies, how to make more sustainable choices.
[00:06:00] Kate: I grew up on Toronto island, which is a small community. There’s about 250 people who live there. It’s a largely car-free community, just a 10 minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto. So I grew up spending a lot of time in nature. The school goes up to grade six on the island, and then you have to go into the city. Until my last year, I think there was no playground or play structures. It was like a field and trees and we played outside. We built forts. We toboggan down a hill.
I grew up sailing, doing canoe trips and loved swimming. I live like a couple of minutes from the beach on the island. And I remember as a kid, seeing a ton of garbage on the beaches always and not really piecing together why that might be or where it comes from. I remember there’s always like the plastic tampon applicators. Oh, there’s like a lot of women on boats with periods. Cause this is like on the water that came from the water. Not understanding that big disconnect that garbage in the water largely comes from land, not from boats. So I think I, yeah, I’ve always been loved being outside and being in nature. And I think we can’t even say any more that we need to protect the environment for future generations. We need to protect it for our generation. Like we are directly seeing impacts of climate change and pasta pollution today. Like this isn’t a future problem. It’s a definitely a future problem, but it’s also a very much a right now problem.
[00:07:28] Jennifer: Do you think that growing up on an island, even though, like you said, you’re only 10 minutes away from downtown Toronto. but you think that really I’m trying to think of what the difference would be between someone who has the opportunity to grow up climbing trees and going out and swimming within a two minute walk from someone that lives in like an urban center. I’m wondering if you think that was an influence on your life.
[00:07:49] Kate: I definitely think so, but also like everybody’s different. I might have friends who grew up on the island who don’t feel that same deep connection that I do or like alternatively, there could be kids who grew up in very like urban environments who do also feel the deep connection. So I think it was partly, we like live growing up on Toronto island, but also like my parents. We went on camping trips as a kid and Northern Ontario. I feel like I’ve always been exposed to nature in a very special way.
[00:08:18] Jennifer: Was there a moment in your life where you ever said that you wanted to create change, come wondering how you got to here. Like really you’re an advocate for change. I was wondering if you know, when that fire started inside of you.
[00:08:33] Kate: I’ve never thought of it that I can’t think of like a, a pivotal moment. In my life where I was like, I need to, to be a change maker if or create change. Growing up again on the island. Like it’s a very, it was very close community. So we knew all of our neighbors. So I feel like I’ve always had a deep sense of community that I’ve loved. I was running the sailing school for six years. So through that, like built a big community around the sailing school. Like I grew the participation from like, A very small number to like a very, very large number and the time that I was there. So again, like coming back to that like community and like fostering that community minded spirit I think is really important to me. And I think via The Tare Shop have again, created another community of people who want to shop differently and want to shop smart.
[00:09:26] Jennifer: So, how did you come up with the actual idea for the business and then how did you move it forward and actually create a business from your idea?
[00:09:32] Kate: The idea for The Tare Shop came about just by reading about other package, free stores, popping up all over, knowing that I wanted one in Halifax. And in university, I remember like being in like an environmental course or sustainability course and just seeing. Tim Horton’s cups and almost every single students that like disposable cups and like, people will just do what is easy for them. So it’s just easiest for them to grab a to-go cup. They’re just always going to grab that to go. So thinking it would be cool to have a zero waste cafe that just doesn’t have disposable coffee cups. And I had kind of forgotten about that for a couple of years until the idea? for The Tare Shop started in my brain and thought that would be a really cool way to tie a coffee shop into a grocery store so that it’s not just a place where people go. It can then again, become a, like a community space, host events Makes it a little bit more of an experience than, than just going grocery shopping.
And then I was home one January visiting my family, and we were all lying on my bed, hanging out, discussing The Tare Shop. It was like very, very early, early days and dreaming up what the name could be. And I forgot who said it, but maybe my mom or my sister said Tare, Tare Shop, The Tare Shop?
Tare is the deduction of the container weight which ties again into that bulk shopping. And then to start it, I spent a year or two thinking about the business plan. Writing. Putting it down. Cause I was like, I can’t do this. I don’t know how to run a business. That’s a really important step. A, any lender is going to need to see your business plan to make sure you know what you’re doing, but it’s really also. Was really helpful to think out all the different aspects and make you do your research and your homework.
So writing the business plan, coming up with cashflow projections, which was really hard because there’s no market research or data on what people spend at a bulk store. So I ended up using social media. As I’m like a huge tool to do that research. So ask people, like, what do you spend on groceries a week? What do you spend at the bulk store? How often do you go? And use that data to help inform my cashflow projections? And then I was trying to find a property by myself. Eventually was like, I don’t know how to talk to commercial property people or big building owners. So ended up finding an amazing woman, Linda who helped me find both locations for, for The Tare Shop. Was a huge advocate and helping me understand what, what were my rights and what I was allowed to ask for.
[00:12:05] Jennifer: And if anyone hasn’t been to a store like yours, could you explain how that works and what the experience is like of going to like a zero waste store? I think a lot of people don’t have access to those yet in their communities. Lots of room for you to expand.
[00:12:19] Kate: So every store is going to be different. Company or business will have their own way of doing things. So I can speak to what The Tare Shop is like. So you walk in, you bring your own containers but if you don’t have any, we also sell repurpose containers for 50 cents. Just there’s already, we don’t sell new containers because there’s already so many containers in the waste stream already.
So folks can donate their containers to us and we’ll wash them and sanitize them. The 50 cents just to help recoup some of that labor for sanitizing and, and managing all that. So then you bring your containers up to the counter and this staff will weigh all of your containers. And we’ve. And we’ve found that to be a really important piece, that some other stores, you weigh your own containers, but we really like weighing the customer’s containers. Cause again, it is a lot of people’s first times doing this, or maybe COVID happen. And they haven’t been in, in a couple of years, so they forget how things work.
When people come in, we have that opportunity to check in, see how they’re doing, see how their day’s going and offer up that piece of education. So have they been here before? Do you need a refresher on how it works? And then once the containers are all weighed, we have filling stations. And that was the thing that came out of COVID that will stick around forever for us. Before we didn’t have a designated place where you did your filling people kind of just like perched up on the countertops or on the coffee tables. So now we actually have different stations where you can put all of your containers.
Bring the jar of almonds and chocolate caramels to your station. And do the filling there instead of trying to juggle glass jars above the ground. And then the beauty and one of my favorite reasons to shop package free is that if you only need a teaspoon of something for a recipe, you can literally just buy a teaspoon. This was probably Thanksgiving Canadian Thanksgiving. So late October mid-October I dunno. But we had just been open and a dad came in who was visiting their kid and was cooking the Thanksgiving meal and the kid didn’t have any of the right spices. So the dad came in and bought like, exactly. The number of teaspoons of each spice that he needed to make their family tradition meal. And that was so cool because I think that really just like highlights, you don’t need to buy a huge quantity if you just need a little bit. And then, Yeah. So once you fill up all of your containers, you bring them back And the staff deducts the container weight from the total, since the name Tare.
[00:14:51] Jennifer: And when you began to stock your shelves, when you’ve opened your store on your, began to stock your shelves, and you began to look into conventional goods that are available through wholesale, did you find anything surprising?
[00:15:03] Kate: What has surprised me pleasantly is the number of local suppliers who are willing to work with us and trade containers back and forth so that we don’t have their products packaged. That’s been a really happy happy surprise and like so grateful for all of our suppliers. There hasn’t been anything that’s been like too shocking or two surprise. But one thing that I did, that was pretty interesting for bringing in products. When we opened the first store we used, I think it was literally like 40 products that we stocked. And these were things that I again use the social media to, to ask people what they wanted us to sell and pick the most important ones or the most common ones.
And then we’ve brought products in and we’ve grown our offerings based on customer requests. So. The only products that haven’t moved or haven’t sold well, are the ones that I brought in that nobody had asked for. So that way we know what we are selling people want, and it won’t go to waste.
[00:16:03] Jennifer: And I assume that your background in sustainability does give you an unique advantage here, but has it in, let me try that again, but has it influenced how you make purchasing decisions when you are shopping for your store?
[00:16:16] Kate: I think being really. Like cautious, like, especially with any of the lifestyle products, making sure that I’m research thing, researching them to make sure that the company is one that we align with them, want to work with and even just like down to values and avoiding greenwashing. Which is unfortunately very, very common now is being eco and natural and sustainable is very trendy.
Making sure that the companies are doing what they’re saying they are doing.
[00:16:50] Jennifer: Yeah. As someone who owns a distribution company, myself too, one of the things that is always top of mind for us, uh, and it’s really the, the impacts of shipping.
And packaging. And it’s something that I think that most people don’t consider, like they’ll go into a store, they’ll think, oh, it’s local, because they’re only thinking about how they’re getting that from the shelf into their own home.
But they’re not necessarily thinking about how it got here in the first place. What are the costs associated? What are the costs associated with creating something like a traditional. Retail store in terms of environmental impact, like what else are you considering that we’re not thinking about.
[00:17:33] Kate: That’s such a great question. Cause even when I was living, like I still live low waste, but I used to have like the trash jar that I like recorded my waste in. Cause I think that’s a great tool to understand the type of waste you’re creating.
But even then, like that’s not the whole picture. You don’t see the waste that the store had, the packing material that it came to them and you don’t see all of the upstream waste as well. So I think the upstream waste is a huge piece that we don’t see. And all of those, like yeah. Upstream costs. So the emissions that that product took to get from where it was manufactured, the materials, the, where it was manufactured to getting it to the distributor, to get it to the retail store.
So all of those emission costs all of the social costs. So was the product did. Employer who made the product, pay their employees fairly with fair wages? How were they workers treated? So those are all, and I, you can’t talk about.
environmental issues without talking about social issues. They’re so intertwined.
So those are also all hidden costs and like with things like fast fashion the material is so, or the product is so cheap because all of those other costs are being captured in the product. They aren’t paying their workers fairly. They aren’t regarding any environmental impact, most likely. So those costs just aren’t being captured in those products.
[00:18:55] Jennifer: And so you’ve achieved B Corp certification. Congratulations. As a small business owner.
Exactly. Uh, as a small business owner, who’s been going on that journey for some time. Now I cannot imagine how difficult that was for you. Congrats.
But I’d like to talk about what certifications like that mean to you.
So if you’re sourcing products at wholesale, are you looking for certain certifications? And what does that tell you about the products that are certified? I was just wondering how important certifications are to you as someone who is in retail.
[00:19:31] Kate: Yeah, definitely. If we are deciding between two companies, One is B Corp certified, and one is not we’ll pick the B Corp certified as the consumer or somebody purchasing. It just takes away that research that you might want to do before looking into a product, because you know that the company has been through a rigorous process to get certified, you know, that they are doing what they’re saying, they’re doing, they’re putting their money where their mouth is, or whatever that saying is And they’re yeah, they’re committed to, as like B Corp slogan, they’re committed to using business as a force of good.
So obviously companies need to be making money to be successful, but at least like my definition of success is so much more deeper than that because I th I think a lot about impact and like the impact that my company has. So, Yeah, for like certifications, like B Corp are so good because they are helping to spread awareness and this movement of using business to create change and be a force for good is catching on and just gaining in popularity, which is so important.
And yeah, I forget where I was going with that.
[00:20:36] Jennifer: One thing that I love to add to this conversation, or one thing that I love to ask. Whenever this comes up is how do you think that impact business is resonating with consumers? Do you think that consumer behavior is shifting at the same pace that business owners are starting to think about
[00:20:50] Kate: impact?
A couple of things. I think that the business owners who are on top of it and aware of these trends and thinking this way, they are probably moving a bit quicker than the consumers, but I think the consumers are catching up. And already, like, I feel like in the last couple of years Consumers are getting smarter and more aware of the impacts that products have that businesses have and are starting to demand different and demand better and demand more transparency from the places that they shop at. So I think that businesses who aren’t thinking, and that’s not saying everybody has to be B Corp certified but people, businesses who aren’t. Being transparent and dark. Aren’t being forthright about what the impact that their businesses have. I think they will lose customers and they will lose some of their customer base because of that, for sure.
[00:21:50] Jennifer: So you started the shop with feedback from people on social media, giving you input into what to stock your shelves, which, which I love, but what was the moment that you realized that this could work or that people would actually be interested in supporting a business idea like this?
[00:22:05] Kate: When we announced the business on social media, it was such a scary thing because once you put it out there, you can’t take it back.
You can not do it, but you can’t. You can’t take it away. And like right away within the first couple of weeks, I was flooded with messages and emails. Emails and then messages from social media of people saying that they were so excited to shop this way. And they were so excited for The Tare Shop to open.
Cause they’d been trying to reduce their waste and it just hasn’t been possible or accessible to them. So right away that was like a pretty good, like, okay, we’re good. This is gonna work. And then you run all the numbers that you. I can guess and can make up educated guesses for your cashflow projections.
And almost right away, my numbers, the sales were way better than I ever expected them to be. More people were excited to be shopping this way. A lot of people in the direct community shopped because it was just closer than, than driving or walking to, to the bigger stores farther away. So that was another like, okay, like we’ve got this, this is going to work.
And another thing that I wasn’t expecting at all, but pretty much from even before we opened. Every week we would get messages. When are you opening up a tear shop in this community, this city, this town this province. So all over the country, I’ve had requests for Terra shops. So that was another really cool thing that I didn’t expect, but so many people would be so into this idea and wanted a tear shop in their community.
[00:23:37] Jennifer: And so I was looking around within your social media, I’m looking at your community and this, this real community feel that you have built with your followers. And one of the things that I. Really makes your store special to the people that love you really is that you do a lot of other things about X in order to be accessible.
Can we talk about your accessibility initiatives within your shop? Cause I think that they’re, they’re really exciting and interesting to talk about
[00:24:07] Kate: Yeah. So that was the I think, yeah, we would never open up a tear shop in a building, like even just base level building that wasn’t accessible. Folks with physical disabilities or mobility aids already have such a hard time navigating.
Really, especially really old cities like health facts. So being aware, just reducing that one barrier and then in our store making sure that it’s accessible for folks all walks of lives, making sure that it’s an inclusive, inviting, welcoming non-judgment space. And we have accessibility policies on our website. Like ensuring that our social media is accessible. So anytime we post a video with speech or text we include captions any time that we post a photo, we have an image description and our hashtags use camel case, which just means that the first letter of each hashtag is re within the hashtag is capitalized. Making sure that we eat like, even as simple as like having kids toys in the space, so that it’s a bit easier for a parent with young kids to come and shop, they can plot their kids down in front of the toy bin or books the kids can play while the parents do their shop. And that’s been such a special thing us.
[00:25:23] Jennifer: I love the scent free thing too. Cause I’m a scent. We’re a scent free family.
[00:25:27] Kate: Yeah. Yeah. Even like, there’s so many things that you, as somebody, without any barriers or accessibility needs that you might not even think about. So like all of the cleaning products that we use are scent free and we do sell scented products, but they’re all closed, so they don’t smell In the space.
And then like lights and sounds. We’re always happy to turn the music off or pause the music. Dim, the lights they’re all on dimmers if somebody needs to. So we don’t have like designated times, like I know Walmart might, or some other big stores might have designated times. But we’re happy to do that at all.
At any point of the day
[00:26:04] Jennifer: In your journey in specifically throughout the pandemic, have you encountered any other really big challenges?
[00:26:13] Kate: Not including COVID.
[00:26:15] Jennifer: I think there, I think COVID has just maybe amplified.
So our challenges as
[00:26:20] Kate: Yeah, definitely. Like even from the beginning, like I was 24 when I noticed the business, if my math is and memory are correct. And like I looked pretty young, so just even getting people to take me seriously and where the chair shop was such a new concept. There was no store in the province, like the chair shop Getting lenders to believe in what I was doing.
I had one lender who told me that my paraphrasing business plan was stupid. I would need plastic bags and disposable coffee cups to, to be successful. So, yeah, even just like getting people bought in on this idea has well, the community’s been very supportive getting some of the people in suits with the money to take me seriously.
But yeah, that COVID, yeah, it’s just amplified. Every challenge. And while we’ve been fortunate enough not to have any like labor issues and getting incredible folks on our team the labor shortages have affected some of our suppliers. So some of our suppliers locally, even, and who are able to do deliveries every day are now down to a couple of times a week managing like all the, yeah, the labor shortages, how they affect suppliers and leads, lead times being so unpredicted.
The w worst one was we placed an order, usually a weekly time, like four weeks, we still hadn’t heard. And it had all been paid for upfront. And then all of those little delays like that just really affect your cashflow. So it makes it harder to make that next purchase because your cashflow has been tied up for a while.
[00:27:54] Jennifer: And when we saw people hoarding toilet paper and, and, uh, when we saw people lie selling their groceries and wearing gloves every time they opened doors, I’m sure that that shift in like collective mindset really effected you and probably rattled you quite a bit. How did you feel when that happened?
Like what was going through your mind when COVID hit? And we were all, all of a sudden, so worried about things like sanitation, what was that?
[00:28:24] Kate: Oh, my gosh, it was so scary. I wish I kept like a journal or a diary even just to see how like, cause I feel like a trauma response is you don’t really remember. So I remember being terrified. But I don’t necessarily remember the feelings too deeply.
But yeah, it was so scary. I was in Toronto for a conference and got back like the Saturday night at like midnight before the world shut down. And just even. Yeah, asking staff to work. I wasn’t comfortable with staff working. They weren’t comfortable working, so laid everybody off. And I went back to working on the floor zero hours a week to working on the floor six days a week by myself.
Doing all the shopping for people. So people would come in and they’d stand in like one spot and I would do all the filling for them. Again, it was just all so unknown. And I remember wearing like gloves instead of a mask. Cause I thought that we just thought that was the safer thing. Didn’t realize how aerosol like transmittable by air.
It was and. Yeah, it was, yeah, it was really, really intense. And I would go grocery shopping. Typically, what did the grocery shopping for my household? Cause I was already out in the community and would come home and just like sod. It was so intense to be everybody also just got, we lost that, that community feel and that co like shared experiences.
Everybody was so tunnel vision and focused on themselves. Even like walking out on the street. Like nobody was saying hi to anybody else. Everybody was like looking down, looking away. So absorbed in like their own safety and their own wellbeing. There was one walk, my partner and I went on like April 20, 20, so peak, scary, scary times.
We were like, okay, we’re both like very low, very sad today. Let’s get out. Move our body get some fresh air and it just made it so much worse. Cause there was like police ticketing, people like walk cutting through the commons, which is a big field in Halifax. Like people are reading ticketed for being outside.
Everybody was like, so like wrapped up and, and, and yeah, not social and not friendly anymore. So that?
was a big mind shift and, and, and emotional mental thing to get over.
[00:30:50] Jennifer: Do you feel like a lot of customers of yours kind of rejected the idea of bulk or refill at that time?
[00:30:56] Kate: I think a lot of people did.
And. Like rightfully so it was a scary time. But it was pretty early on in the pandemic that there was a report issued by hundreds of, or over 125. I think it was like doctors and scientists and health professionals who said that using reusables was safe as long as they were clean, which for food health, safety, anyways, they should be clean.
So, and we like my waist to also definitely increase through dependent. But there was a lot of our regular customers. We probably lost for a bit there, but a lot who were so grateful to be able to like at least keep this part of normalcy and keep this way of reducing waste alive in their lives.
And also nice to like go somewhere where they felt very safe. A lot of the feedback that we got was this was like one of the only stores they felt safe going into. Cause it was just me and them. And I also definitely became like an emotional, like dumping ground for people who, some people come in and be like, I haven’t talked to another adult in like a week, like here’s my life.
Which was a lot, but, but nice to connect with customers as well.
[00:32:04] Jennifer: And now that COVID is kind of alleviating at least in terms of the way that we are all interacting with the world. Again, I know that. The zero waste living or low waste living took a huge hit through all of this. Like everybody, I was ordering my groceries. They were coming in plastic bags. It was eating my heart.
Every time, every time I had to wear a disposable mask, as opposed to a cloth mask, I throwing out it’s, it’s eating me inside. Are you seeing a shift now of people go. You know, extra in the direction of zero waste or being more mindful of waste after living through this like massive waste stream of the last two years.
Like, how is this shifting as someone who’s really on ground level
[00:32:46] Kate: here?
Yeah. I think people are even the people who might not have been very aware. Now aware, cause you can even see in the number of like garbage bags that you’re throwing out that waste all of our wastes have increased. So I think the people who were already trying are definitely committed to doing this and, and trying to live with less impact.
And I think I, yeah, I trying to stay optimistic, but I think. This has shifted things and we see have seen the impacts and know that we, that we need better for, for our world today than we have been doing.
[00:33:26] Jennifer: And when you’re speaking to your customers about taking steps or taking action in order to live a more sustainable life. What is your like top tip? What is the number one thing you tell people to do when they are coming to you as an expert and asking you what they can do to live more sustainably?
[00:33:45] Kate: The first tip, I always tell folks is to use up what you already have. So it’s way more wasteful to go to your pantry or your bathroom or your cleaning closet And throw out everything in there and replace it all. It’s a huge waste of resources. It’s a huge waste of money. So use up what you have and then as your bottle of cleaning, spray runs out refill that.
So we have. Like all purpose, cleaner concentrate. So refill things as you run out, instead of going and replacing it all and even like the plastic mop that you have is more sustainable than going out and buying like a, all bamboo one. So using what you already have is the most sustainable option.
And then the next thing I would say is be kind to yourself Yeah, this is all about like building habits and changing your mindset and that stuff doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, it takes practice. And if you cave and buy a coffee in a disposable cup, like it’s not the end of the world remember to bring your mug next time or be being aware yeah, not beating yourself up if getting to a bulk shop isn’t accessible to you.
That’s okay. There’s other things that you can do to lessen your.
[00:34:57] Jennifer: And what about a small business owner? What is something that they can do to lessen their impact? Like what would you suggest to someone like me or someone who owns a business in your
[00:35:07] Kate: That’s a great one. I think being really. Like doing your research.
The number of business owners that have asked me about the compostable coffee cups, they’re not actually compostable in the majority of municipalities. They go to the landfill and just something compostable in the landfill isn’t necessarily better than something. Not like a garbage piece of garbage in the landfill.
So in the amount of business owners I’ve had, who asked me and I’m like, I hate to tell it to you. That’s not compostable. And they’ve spent more money per cup or whatever the product is on this like green sustainable compostable, PLA, uh, cup than they normally would have. So they’ve wasted a lot of money.
So yeah. Do your research. It takes a little bit of time, but at least in HRM, there’s waste educators who are always really be happy to chat And answer questions. So tap into the resources in your community and do your research before buying like a green product.
[00:36:06] Jennifer: And I think B Corp was a really big eye-opener for me, at least in terms. That kind of stuff. Of course, like really evaluating our business, which we already thought we were doing great. You know, we already had been so mindful of all these decisions, but going through the B Corp process has really opened our eyes to making those small changes.
But one thing as an outsider, And at first and B Corp, when I wasn’t involved at all. And I had never really heard about it before. I did know that sustainability was a big part of B Corp and I knew it was about protecting the earth. But what I did not know was that B Corp has such a community focus. And I was wondering since you’ve gone through B Corp and gone through the certification, how have you chose to.
What’s the word, how can we say this? How are you benefiting your community? I’m wondering what your community action oriented events are.
[00:37:09] Kate: Yeah.
[00:37:09] Jennifer: Are you serving your community?
[00:37:11] Kate: yeah, I love that. Yeah. One thing I think a lot of people don’t realize is that B Corp, isn’t just like in a focus on environmental. It’s also all about social And then community impact as well.
So I was inspired by 1% for the planet. But instead of doing 1%. Two different environmental organization. I wanted the, to give to directly to the community, so different organizations in the community, but also we’ve given to like go fund me campaigns and things like that. So very like direct community oriented organizations.
So one each quarter we donate 1% of our sales to a different community organization. And those are nominated by the community, voted on with the staff. And so that’s like one piece, we run events, we host other makers and creators for popups. We don’t charge people for that. It’s just a way to like bring people into the space.
And especially after COVID regained some of that community feel to the space. And yeah, like offering up our space, offering up our platform to community members, being, sharing things, amplifying voices is really important.
[00:38:17] Jennifer: And what about our children or the children in your community, the adults of the future. How do you think that the work that you’ve done is impacting them? Like, what do you think about the future of Halifax or the future of all of us as we explore zero.
[00:38:34] Kate: I think kids are so smart. And yeah, educating the kids is a huge piece of this. I think that’s how, like the recycling initiatives started. They went into schools and educated all of the kids and the kids went home and taught the parents how to, how to recycle.
So yeah, making sure that we are educating the kids and, and not necessarily like not sugar coating things. But doing it in a way that inspires them to create change or to change up habits or to encourage their parents to change up habits or guardians instead of like scaring them. Cause I definitely got scared in university.
And whereas I think if I had been aspired, it would have been like, I would have emotionally felt different for sure. So educating kids in a way that inspires them. So I love going into schools and giving talks and, and talking to youth groups, I’ve done a ton of those, especially pre COVID.
[00:39:30] Jennifer: I’m wondering if you’ve heard. I’ve seen a couple memes lately and I haven’t explored it at all, but, like grocery shopping in the 1950s and how different it was for now. Have you seen these memes?
[00:39:42] Kate: I don’t. I think I’ve seen like one, but one thing that I didn’t expect when we open, I kind of expected like young woman to be our primary target market. But what I didn’t expect was like 60 plus year olds to come in and being like, this is how we used to shop. This is amazing that we can shop this way again. So, yeah, we like plastic is a new invention. It hasn’t been around forever. And all shopping used to be packaged or plastic free.
I think the more locations that we have, the more impact that we can have, and the more common this becomes this way of shopping way of thinking just becomes more like mainstream and, and easier for folks.
[00:40:22] Jennifer: And do you think we’re going to get there?
[00:40:24] Kate: Yes, I do.
[00:40:26] Jennifer: If you want to learn more about Kate, package- free living and how to shop her carefully curated collection of low waste goods. Visit thetareshop.com. Looking to learn more about zero waste and the steps you can take to reduce plastic in your life. There are a lot of tips and resources on the Tare Shop’s blog. If you want to follow along with Kate on her mission to make package free living accessible. You can do so on Instagram @thetareshop