If you live in Denver and have looked for a zero waste store, it’s likely you’ve heard of ZERO market. Lyndsey Gantert, President of ZERO market, owns two zero waste stores; one in the Stanley Market and one in Edgewater Public Market.
She was inspired to start a zero waste store in 2013 when she wanted to make a bigger impact in the total amount of waste that was being created. We had the opportunity to interview Lyndsey as our first zero waste store owner feature.
Moving forward, look for more blog posts where we talk to zero waste shop owners who carry Mountain Time Soap.
Tell us a little bit about ZERO market. Why did you start a zero waste store?
With the problem of plastic pollution coming to the attention of more and more people, I found that there wasn’t an accessible or easy route to opt for a more sustainable way of living. There was a gap in purchasing sustainable household goods. I was determined to fill it by opening a store packed full of every essential home and body care product imaginable to make living a life with less waste more convenient.
The journey started out with a mixture of low level excitement and a lot of side eyes and, “it’s too niche, who will even come to the store?”
Now, it’s a much more welcoming community that is just as excited to do their part as we are. It’s been wild, especially after throwing a pandemic on top of it all. COVID-19 has brought a lot of single use disposables to the forefront again.
When selecting products for your shop, what do you look for?
Our ideal products are local and completely non-toxic. They come from a supplier or business that stands behind their product and is reasonably priced or affordable. They need to be plastic-free (most definitely nothing disposable), no animal products or by-products and of great quality.
We are also very picky about specific ingredients which some people are surprised by. Anything that is considered unethical, possibly toxic or unsustainable we do not carry in the store.
What made you want to carry Mountain Time Soap?
Mountain Time Soap checks every single box of the things we look for.
The soaps are such high quality and we absolutely love the people running the whole operation. It’s really wonderful when we have an established relationship with our suppliers.
I still remember our beginning days when Stacy and I would meet up in a parking lot in between our houses somewhere on the west side of town to hand off the boxes and boxes of soap.
The definition of “small operation”!
Any advice that you would give to a new zero waste store owner looking to start purchasing products at wholesale?
It’s a difficult place to navigate right now as green-washing has become so prevalent in recent years. Be aware of “green” and “sustainable” products when you don't know how they are made or where they come from, and in what they are packaged in.
My best advice is to reach out directly to any supplier you plan on working with to get to know them and their business. See if your values align.
You may find the best company with the best products and the best story. But then everything might show up, tripled wrapped in bubble wrap and shoved into some styrofoam. Be ahead of the potential disasters!
Where do you see zero waste stores, and the sustainability industry headed in the next five years?
It would be amazing to see zero waste stores as common as any local grocery store. Switching from purchasing new bottles every time you need a new product to stopping at your local refill shop for the home essentials is the dream.
The impact that type of shopping would create would be massive. We need creative, determined people in the sustainability field to continue coming up with great ideas to keep people hooked on caring about the environment and making positive changes towards a cleaner future for the planet.
What are your future plans for ZERO market? How are you defining success for your business as you move forward?
I am focused solely on keeping these stores going through the pandemic before getting back to the expanding section of the business. Eventually, it would be great to have a ZERO market in every state!
What are you most excited for in 2022?
We are really excited about a few things this year. We’re excited to possibly open another location (yet to be announced).
We’re looking forward to collaborating with some of our favorite locally owned sustainable businesses.
We also plan to continue to be creative and stay up to date with the quickly growing and evolving world of “zero waste”.
Any last departing words for our readers?
One of my favorite sayings is from the zero waste chef, Anne Marie Bonneau:
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Do what you can, start small and be a part of the change that we so desperately need to turn this path around for our planet and our children’s future.
To learn more about Lyndsey and ZERO market, be sure to check out their website.
To learn more about Mountain Time’s wholesale program and how you can carry our soaps, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.
Authored by: Kelcie Ottoes