When considering the world-wide threat of climate change, it can be easy to feel like you’re powerless to help the environment. But Fullfillery, a new store in Takoma Park, offers an effective way for people to make a difference in their everyday lives. The Washington, D.C.-area’s first zero-waste shop store sells plastic-free, ethically sourced and locally produced goods to help consumers live more sustainably.
Zero waste is a set of principles focused on eliminating waste at all points of a product’s lifecycle. By highlighting unsustainable production and consumption practices, it encourages individuals and corporations alike to conserve resources.
Eight climate activists opened Fullfillery’s first storefront in 2019, but they were forced to close during the pandemic. After a year selling their products online and at farmers markets, Rini Saha and Susan Cho, two of the original founders, partnered with Christelle Carito and Emőke Gaidosch to open the new Takoma Park shop in June.
“Climate change is so overwhelming, and it often feels like you can’t do anything,” says Saha. “Zero waste lets you do one little part of it.”
Fullfillery offers a wide variety of sustainable cleaning, personal care and household items. Its liquid dish soap, for example, is made by Gaidosch, the store’s in-house chemist, and comes in refillable glass containers that customers are encouraged to bring back to the store. Gaidosch also makes shampoo bars and hand soap, among other items, under the name Costa Cosmetics.
Another popular, locally produced product is Wild Orchid Naturals mosquito repellent. The vendor is located in Laurel and drives her product, which is packaged in a tin, directly to the store. This is in keeping with Fullfillery’s raison d’être, as local delivery produces a fraction of the carbon dioxide typically used to ship items around the world on trucks and cargo ships.
“The amount of CO2 that is being used for all those products that can be made [locally] is ridiculous,” Saha says. “We’re trying to end that.”
Not all of the store’s products are manufactured in the D.C. area, but all are ethically sourced and eco-friendly. The owners thoughtfully choose vendors who align with their values, such as Meliora, a small Chicago-based company that manufactures hard dish soap and other cleaning products. You can either buy their soap in a box or without any packaging.
The more people buy zero-waste products, the more large corporations will have an incentive to offer their own plastic-free items, explains Saha. Zero waste also offers an alternative to the environmental movement’s overemphasis on public policy, which — while perhaps well-meaning — takes the focus of responsibility away from companies and individuals.
“Zero waste addresses something that’s not just about policy,” says Saha, “but about changing businesses and changing how people live.”
Saha says that the local community has been excited about Fullfillery, which fills “a missing void” in the D.C. area.
“The public has been enthusiastic, and we keep getting messages of positivity,” she says.
Fullfillery is located at 7006 Carroll Ave. Suite 204, Takoma Park, MD 20912. It is open Thursdays through Saturdays 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
This story first appeared in our August-September 2021 issue.