Simplifying the transition to a more sustainable lifestyle with one go-to website
By Alexis Zygan, Staff Writer
Matias and Allison aim for progress over perfection, recognizing that collecting trash in a mason jar is impractical for most households.
The zero-waste movement originated to encourage industries towards a circular economy. Advocating for systemic change with laws that require a sustainable supply chain and restrict planned obsolescence. Vancouver has set out a mission to be entirely zero waste by 2040, an ambitious goal for the municipality.
Urban Zero is an eCommerce store offering zero-waste swaps founded by Kyla Matias and Nina Allison that launched on January 31, 2021. During quarantine, free time led to transforming their passion for eco-conscious living into a business. Allison had just moved to Squamish, where Matias currently resides. Their inspiration is zero waste storefronts such as Nada in Vancouver that offer products without packaging in bulk. For Allison, “[zero waste] is about being mindful about consumerism,” she said in an interview with the Other Press.
When people think of zero waste, a video of Lauren Singer may come to mind. An activist and entrepreneur who gained internet fame for showcasing four years of trash in one mason jar: symbolic of her dedication to the movement. Only purchasing groceries and household goods from bulk stores is pricier and restricts what you can buy. Not all of us can afford to pay $40.00 for a litre of laundry detergent, or are willing to say goodbye to our favourite brand of chips for the greater good of the planet.
Urban Zero aims to educate people about greenwashing and support them as they take steps towards progress. Change starts with deciding to bring reusable cotton mesh bags to avoid using single-use plastic bags for produce. Matias says, “Realistically the world has come so far in terms of the waste produced that it won’t be that easy for many people. Our goal as a business is to get the zero-waste movement back on track.”
Matias and Allison aim for progress over perfection, recognizing that collecting trash in a mason jar is impractical for most households. Allison says, “No one is perfect; we are constantly adapting and learning how to do better. Our goal is to grow a following and use that to educate how to repurpose what you already have at home, so you don’t have to go to the store and replace it.” Carrying out social media campaigns on Instagram and TikTok that share weekly tips on how to reuse, repurpose, and upcycle.
When sourcing products, they purchase only from Canadian artisans, some of which are based in British Columbia. Inquiring about fair trade certification, employee rights to guarantee sustainable manufacturing to their customers. As an online store, when customers order items online, that is one less trip into the city. Although Urban Zero does not offset carbon emissions from mail orders, they have considered doing this in the future. They also plan on donating a percentage of their profit to organizations (such as Nature Conservancy of Canada) funding initiatives that promote systemic change through research.
Currently, Urban Zero sells a variety of household products for eco-friendly swaps. Such as reusable cotton mesh bags, silicone sandwich bags, and beeswax wraps. They plan to expand into hygiene and beauty in the future, focusing on a line of products free of allergens. They are currently working on building their online presence. While also making zero-waste swaps as accessible as possible. Alison says, “We don’t go over the suggested retail price, noticing that other zero waste stores have a higher markup.”
Urban Zero would love to organize a popup shop at a local cafe or shop. Matias and Allison are excited for the future of their brand, now is just the beginning. Stay up to date with them on social @urbanzerolifestyle on Instagram.