Hey, Green Junkie!
Are you drowning in boxes, bubble wrap and poly mailers? Confused about what to do with all the shipping containers and materials that are stacking up in the corner of your living room?
It’s no secret we all like to shop online. It’s convenient, it’s easy and it saves us hella time. I mean it’s become such a normal part of our lives there are millions of TikTok videos comically showing wives hiding their daily packages from their husbands. Online shopping is here to stay.
So how do we continue this modern era tradition and still be smart and kind to our planet when most of the materials can’t be recycled and we can only reuse so many boxes in our home?
I brought on the CO-Founder of Eco Ship, Alekandra Plewa, to talk to us about how she and her boyfriend are helping solve this very problem. She is bringing us behind the scenes of their Eco-Ship Brand and giving us some tips to help us clear out that corner of boxes.
In this episode, we will discuss,
- How to ship products and save money at the same time
- The high cost of non-sustainable shipping
- Behind the scenes of Eco-Ship
- Creative ways to share your shipping materials
You’ll discover that and so much more in this episode.
If you love this podcast be sure to leave a review and share a screenshot of this episode to your IG stories. Tag @greenjunkiepodcast so I can shout you out and publicly say thanks.
Thanks for listening and being here.
Your green bestie,
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Produced by: Alecia Harris
Music By: Liz Fohle
TRANSCRIPT FOR EPISODE 35
Stephanie Moram 0:07
Hi, Green Junkie. I'm your host Stephanie Moram and today I have the pleasure of speaking with Alekandra Plewa about how low waste shipping and reusing materials you already have at home can save you money and the environment at the same time. Alekandra is a Chicago native and founder of Eco Shift. After receiving her degree in biology, she pursued lab work that focused on drug testing. However, she quickly realized that she wanted to get to get back into environmental issues because Chicago was very much behind other states in many aspects. The idea of Eco Ship began when she started helping recycle materials for her partner's e-commerce business. They both saw how difficult and impossible in some cases it was to recycle many of the shipping materials. So they decided to gather them from individuals and find businesses that were willing to reuse them. They've grown significantly over the last few months and hope to continue growing and finding solutions to this packaging issue.
Stephanie Moram 1:11
If you love hearing, and learning new ways you can reduce your impact on the environment. Please subscribe to the Green Junkie Podcast on whatever platform you get your podcasts. That way you never miss another green living episode.
Stephanie Moram 1:27
Hi, Alekandra, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
Alekandra Plewa 1:32
Thank you so much for having me. I'm very excited about this. I love your TikToks.
Stephanie Moram 1:37
Thank you. So I think the first thing is just like tell the listeners about yourself and a little bit more how Eco Ship got started. And a little bit more of the background of Eco Ship.
Alekandra Plewa 1:50
Yeah, definitely. So like you mentioned, my partner does e-commerce. He sells a lot of like clothing, electronics and whatnot. So when I first met him, I realized that he reuses a lot of his packaging supplies from friends and family. And he began to expand his business. And so I started reaching out on various social media platforms to see if people had these materials just lying around. And they did because they had no idea what to do with them and how to properly dispose of them. And so we started to collect these materials, I would drive pick them up, you know, all over the city. And before we knew it, we had a closet filled with these materials. So we decided to take it one step further. And that's how Eco Ship formed. We are in the process of becoming a nonprofit right now. But for now, we're just seeing, you know, like where we can take this and it's been exciting. People are super excited about this. Like I said, it's very difficult to recycle some of these materials, Chicago does not have the best recycling system to begin with. So we definitely want to expand on this reusing aspect of it, I guess.
Stephanie Moram 3:14
I just love the idea. Because you know, especially the last two years, more and more people have been buying online, right? So envelopes and boxes and the stupid plastic bubble wrap and, and all this stuff. And people just take it and they assume it can be recycled when we both know that a lot of it can't be recycled, unless you go through like TerraCycle or something like that. You can't just put it in your regular bin. So I love the idea that you're just like, Okay, let's solve this problem. I'm gonna offer businesses. And it's funny that you know, when we connected on Instagram, because I was sitting down with my husband, like, before we connected, and I was like, I have all these boxes and all these envelopes like I should find company that want them because I'm not going to use them all. But I don't want to put them in the trash. So I also have a packaging problem. I just have no way to give them to you right now.
Alekandra Plewa 4:06
Completely understand that and you're not the only one. Trust me. That's exactly what we've noticed and realized is that so many people don't want to throw them out, but they don't know what to do with it.
Stephanie Moram 4:18
Alekandra Plewa 4:19
I mean, you know, with like, with a bunch of the mailers it says you can drop them off at certain stores. So like Target, Walmart will take them. But even when they do have the number not everyone sees it. When I showed it to someone for the first time a few weeks ago and she was absolutely astonished. She's like, I had no idea you know, like, I know some people would reuse the poly bags for like scooping up their their dog's poop, let's say and they were trying to figure out a way to keep you know the mailers like in circulation for a little bit longer but at the end of the day, it's still going to end up in the landfill .
Stephanie Moram 5:01
Right? But I mean, I guess somebody using it, like a mailer being used three times is better than one time. Right?
Alekandra Plewa 5:12
Yeah, I mean, fun facts. Poly mailers are made to last up to 60 times. And so the fact that we can use these items saw many different times, but we make it a single use item.
Stephanie Moram 5:28
Right? I didn't know that you could use it. I mean, I knew you could use them multiple times, I just didn't know the number was so high. That's a really good fun fact. And when it comes to like, shipping, what type of things do you find you get the most of so when you're getting donations from different you know, regular people like me, that, uh, you know, if I lived in Chicago, you'd have a lot of stuff for me, what is the one thing you see the most of
Alekandra Plewa 5:50
Definitely the mailers so both padded, and the non padded ones that we call poly bags, and also the air packs of so we actually just started collecting these air packs a few months ago, because we just kept getting people, you know, like messages from people asking us if we can start taking these. And I personally have never really gotten those until I started ordering like larger items, and then they started to gather. And that's definitely one of the items that we were pretty surprised to get a lot of but yeah, it's definitely a problem. That's another item that you know, like, if you do receive, and you don't really know what to do with you can drop off at a store as well.
Stephanie Moram 6:37
Oh, yeah. So in the Chicago area, there's different stores that you can drop off that shipping material to correct?
Alekandra Plewa 6:42
Stephanie Moram 6:43
Oh, that's pretty cool. I'm gonna have to look around personally, to see if there's any big stores around here that do that, because I haven't really looked into it. As much as I should I just hoard everything upstairs – In the hopes that one day I will use it all. And so what are the type of shipping items that you're like, you know, we just can't take this, it's just not going to work out? Is there anything in particular, I know, you get a lot of envelopes, like the mailers? And you said like the plastic packaging, the bubble stuff? Is there anything you guys don't like that? You don't take that you're like, No, I can't take that.
Alekandra Plewa 7:16
So we stopped taking boxes, unfortunately, just because they take up so much space, and then we don't have the manpower right now to do it. And another reason why we kind of stepped back from taking boxes is because Chicago has a lot of local groups on Facebook, where you know, like, if you're done moving, you can post your items, and someone else can use them again for their move.
Stephanie Moram 7:44
Right? So like, what are they the Buy Nothing groups?
Alekandra Plewa 7:47
Yes. So there's multiple Buy Nothing groups and a lot of the neighborhoods and then there's a box dibs group that is actually specifically catered to people who move or in the process or who have just finished moving. So that's when we do have a pretty good collection of boxes for people who need them. But you know, whenever someone asks us where they can drop off their boxes, we definitely recommend these groups, they work very well.
Stephanie Moram 8:17
And I imagine like when it comes to boxes, because, you know, a mailer, most of them are kind of around the same size. You know what I mean? They're on average, kind of around the same, you know, you get, there's not like 100 different size boxes, you know, I mean, mailer. So when I guess when it comes to boxes, it's just, there's so many different size boxes, that some company might need a certain size box for something, and you don't even have that size. Right?
Alekandra Plewa 8:40
Yeah, so that's been very difficult for us. And I mean, we have to measure every single box that comes in a few of them are labeled already labeled, but most of them are not. And it would take us so long to get all the measurements on there. And then you know, trying to like sort through them as we get orders.
Stephanie Moram 9:02
Yeah, it just, you know, again to my husband, we were talking about this very topic, and it's just like I wish there was a way to like have it so boxes were more like standard for businesses so that if company like a company that started like Eco Ship, where it's not there's not like 30 different types of boxes, you know what I mean? Like all companies are using similar boxes, and then it's easier to swap.
Alekandra Plewa 9:27
Right, exactly. Yeah, I definitely agree with that. I mean, we're seeing weird sizes that can't sometimes came and be reused. And so we're like what is the point of this you know, boxes can be recycled, they can be reused. So why are we making weird shapes weird sizes.
Stephanie Moram 9:45
And I think it's also because so many companies focus a lot on branding and a lot on like their marketing rate. So they want to have their box with their sticker on it or they want to have their box with like a stamp on it or something and then another time and he's like, Well, I don't want to use that box that has Amazon written all over it. Right? So it's also that, that there's so much branding on boxes and even be harder for other companies to want even use that box that has like, a big box store written on it. Right?
Alekandra Plewa 10:14
Yes, we have had issues with that we currently have, you know, issues with that. And it's not even just boxes, it's mailers as well, we'll have people who are very particular with the type of branding that's on the mailer. They're worried about, like, other labels being left on and I'm just like, well, you know, first of all, you guys are going to be reprinting your own label. So you can cover that up with. And the other thing that we're actually working on, that we actually saw from Canada is this little sticker that you put on that can cover basically any blemish, or, you know, like old marketing label. And it'll tell you how many times this package has been reused. So every time it's reused, you can just mark off the little number.
Stephanie Moram 11:00
That's really cool. I like that it makes and you can see how many times that you know, that envelope has been used over and over again. And when it comes to like all the labels, do you ask people to take their labels off? Or do you do that?
Alekandra Plewa 11:14
Yeah, so we do ask people to either try to remove the label, if it if it comes off easily, I know, a lot of them are very difficult to remove. And so if they are unable to remove the label to just black out their private information, because like I said, you know, sellers have to print out a label anyway. And so it's just really easy to smack a new one over.
Stephanie Moram 11:37
Do you guys have a like if people drop off donations? Is it really? I know, you said you're going towards being a nonprofit? So you don't charge? Do you charge a fee for people to take the packaging? Do you charge a fee to take the packaging yourself?
Alekandra Plewa 11:51
We do not. We are not charging anything right now. Everything is free. You know, in the future, we do hope to have a small fee for these either drop offs, or if let's say like a smaller store wants to partner with us and they want us to take their mailers or extra packaging materials that they get, and they don't want to just throw it out. Those pickup fees, you know, will be included as well. But right now, we're just trying to get established and see where we can go.
Stephanie Moram 12:26
And do you have a separate place where you house everything? Or it's like everything in your in your like home right now?
Alekandra Plewa 12:33
Oh my gosh, no. No, we did that for a while. And we are not doing that ever again. So we operate out of a storage unit. Anyone who is listening from Chicago, they probably know the neighborhood Logan Square, it's kind of in the middle-ish of the city. So whenever someone places an order, and they have to pick up, they'll come to the storage unit. And we'll have everything ready in bundles to go.
Stephanie Moram 13:03
And you just do pick up like once a week kind of thing to maximize like your time or is it just kind of whenever someone wants to pick up they can pick up.
Alekandra Plewa 13:11
So it used to be oh my gosh, I used to be going there like five, six times a week just because I you know, I want it to keep people coming back and whatnot. But we are starting to kind of go back on it. So we'll choose let's say three days out of the week, we'll do like two to three hour timespan and then people have you know, those days and times that they can come by and pick their stuff up. Yeah, it's a lot of trial and error. So if you know if it is a slower week, then I am all for going and you know, being there on a random day or random time. But if it's a busier week, like this week, we are crazy packed. And so I tell people, I'm like hey, unfortunately, we can only do these three days.
Stephanie Moram 13:59
And I would imagine businesses are going to be understanding it's not like you have an office area, you just sit there eight hours a day and do whatever you're doing. It's to it's not an office.
Alekandra Plewa 14:10
Yeah, you know, in the in the future, we definitely would like to have like a little storefront where people can come in and choose their own items. As much as I love, you know, making these bundles for people and customizing them as much as I can. There's only so much that I can do and I don't really know what people want at the end of the day. So
Stephanie Moram 14:28
No, I love the idea. If you had like a little storefront people can just come in and take what they want. Yeah, exactly. And you don't have to back and forth like how big is the box? How big is the envelope? I need five like that I just have four or I need bubble wrap or I need that like whatever that popcorn stuff is that you can like put down the drain and it and it like I don't know just disintegrates into the water kind of thing. Although like those packaging peanuts. Yeah, I would imagine like eventually that would probably be an easier thing to do. And then people can just pick their stuff, right?
Alekandra Plewa 14:58
Yes, yeah, that's That's the end goal, you know, but we'll see, we have partnered with a lot of smaller stores around Chicago, which is super exciting, because then you know, like, they can gather all the materials from the people in their neighborhood. And instead of us, like making multiple trips, I just made that one trip, you know, every two, three weeks and pick up from that one location.
Stephanie Moram 15:23
That's like, that's a really great idea to have like those drop off locations. So you're not driving everywhere. It's like, okay, this coffee shop, takes a bunch of stuff, and then you just have to go pick all that up, that makes it easier for other people to instead of coming, wherever you are in Chicago, if there's different places across the cities, and it could be closer for them to drop off their stuff as well. And just make you want to make it as convenient as possible. Right? We don't want to make it hard for somebody.
Alekandra Plewa 15:49
Yeah, exactly. And, you know, we continue to push the idea of, you know, staying local and being local, like, we want to cut back on gas, obviously, like, that's not good for the environment, you know, why run a sustainable company, when you're over here, driving, you know, 20-30 miles a day.
Stephanie Moram 16:11
Now, that makes total sense. I love that idea. And when it comes to like, people like me, how can people at home do more when it comes to their shipping materials that they receive? What are your recommendations? What do you, you know, if they don't have, you know, an Eco Ship, wherever they live? Or a company that does something similar to you? What do you recommend people do with their shipping materials?
Alekandra Plewa 16:32
Yeah, so I have seen huge success in these by nothing groups. And I don't know if every single city has those. But I would, I would assume that most of the larger cities do have something similar to a Buy Nothing group, a free box group. And if your city doesn't have one, start it, it's not hard at all. It's a great idea. I mean, even for other items that that are just lying around, and you know, the corners of your closet, like, why just throw it away when someone else could reuse it?
Stephanie Moram 17:05
No, it's and you know, even putting it like on Facebook marketplace, you know, you can find so many free stuff, even on Facebook marketplace. So I think it's also put it in the Buy Nothing group put it on Facebook marketplace, they put it in a couple of places, so that more people might see it, and more people might want to use it.
Alekandra Plewa 17:21
Exactly. And people are more than willing to reuse these materials. I mean, we were just in Staples a few weeks ago, and we were you know, just just because we decided to look at the prices on like packing peanuts and bubble wrap and everything has, if not doubled, tripled right now. So why? Why are you wasting money on these materials that are just out there?
Stephanie Moram 17:46
Right, and who cares? If is says Amazon on it? Right?
Alekandra Plewa 17:49
Oh my gosh, yeah, it really shouldn't matter. And, you know, we've had people who are like, well, I like to put my little touch on it. And that's great. But that little touch can be your own sticker or a little even better yet a little card that can be recycled at the end of the day, because most stickers, unfortunately, are not recyclable. And if the stickers biodegradable, the backing just is not. So put a little card in there and explain you know, why the pack why the item came in an Amazon packaging.
Stephanie Moram 18:21
Right? I love getting packages from companies that did not from their company. Yeah, like I like getting I'm like, Oh, wow, like they, a they want to save money because you are saving money for sure as a business. Because like you said, you want to checkout prices, and prices of everything is going up. So definitely for packaging, and you're showing the consumer like, Hey, I care like I don't. I don't need to have the perfect envelope. And I think you're also attracting those types of people to your business, then you're attracting people that are like, wow, this company, you know, has a great product, they don't give a crap that it's in some random envelope. You know, like, I love getting like when I order, say I'm ordering like organic socks or something like if I got those organic socks and like a random envelope. I feel like Hell yeah, that's super cool. Like, doesn't matter how big or small you are as a company. It's still super cool. And I think with like you talked about pricing, I think with pricing going up. Again, I'm not in the shipping packaging world at all. But I would imagine where companies are going to start being more mindful and more conscious of those things. And they're going to want to reuse as much as they can.
Alekandra Plewa 19:39
Definitely I agree and we see it like I mean even so we've been doing this for about a year now a little bit over a year. And during that year, we've noticed you know, like how much the interest has gone up. And so even with people who don't really understand the concept of sustainability or are you know, circular economy, let's say they still, they know that what they're doing is very beneficial to us and our future and the planet's future.
Stephanie Moram 20:12
Right. And it's like, part of me is like, I don't care why you're doing it really right now. A lot of companies are, the bottom line is money, right? They want to save money. So if they're gonna save money, by, you know, say they send out X amount of packages a day, a small company, maybe they send out 10, I've no idea 10 envelopes a day, if they can get those 10 envelopes for free, or at a very minimal fee? Once you start charging? Why wouldn't they take them secondhand, and then either, and put that money elsewhere put that money in, like the production of their products in innovation, and whatever it is that they're creating, like, to me, it makes sense if you can save money by getting envelopes from somebody, or bubble wrap or whatever. Why wouldn't you?
Alekandra Plewa 20:57
Stephanie Moram 20:59
And I think I think that's, you know, a company might not be super sustainable, but they're willing to save money.
Alekandra Plewa 21:06
Yeah, all companies want to save money.
Stephanie Moram 21:09
Like, and I think that's I think that's like a lot of marketing, when it comes to sustainability, just like in general is you save money by doing this, you can save money by thrifting. You can save money by bringing your own bags, because you're not getting charged five cents every time you take their bags, you know what I mean? You get an extra five cents, because you brought your own mug, yes, five cents, but it adds up if you get a coffee all the time. Right, five cents is five cents. So I think it's that mentality to have, you can save money by doing this.
Alekandra Plewa 21:38
Yeah. And that's definitely been like our push the last few months, as you know, like telling people that you're getting free materials, like, Yeah, this is how much you're saving every month, this is how much you're saving on, you know, one shipment. And once people start seeing those numbers, they really start to react. You know, like we also. And that's funny because like our company doesn't just cater to like the environmentalists, we cater to other people who aren't really in that sector don't really care about it. But I mean, if we can get one person to reuse envelopes, I'll take it I you know,
Stephanie Moram 22:19
100% like, if a company is like, I'll take your envelopes. And like the other part that's really cool is that they take envelopes from you. But then when they get packaging, they can also like it's double for them, right? Like if they get packaging, they're like, Well, I don't want to have to dispose of this. Because I know in the United States, from my understanding is a lot of stuff like you have to pay for this. I don't, I don't pay like locally to pick up my recycling. But like my husband and for his company, he's not doing curbside recycling, he has to get an actual company to come in with dumpsters, one for recycling and one for trash. So he's paying every month his company to have his recycling picked up. So if there was a way that they come less often, they're saving money right there. So if a company doesn't do curbside recycling, and they have to get the recycling and trash picked up, and they have to pay for it, if they just can give it to you, they're you know, they're gonna save money in that regard, too, because they're not going to have to have those big dumpsters picked up as often. So it's just kind of like a win win. And for small companies, yeah, they can do curbside recycling. But then maybe the recycling is less, is less full, their trash is less full, they have to put it to the curb less often. And then they're, they're giving packaging to receive packaging. So I just I love the concept because I've been so intrigued by this for so long, because I collect so much stuff. And I'm just like, I need to get my stuff on like on Facebook marketplace and stuff. So that I can like read that like space I have upstairs.
Alekandra Plewa 23:53
So we came up with this concept because we understand that people get busy, they don't have time to schedule pickups, drop offs. And so that's why we're here. We do it for them. So that we're that middleman.
Stephanie Moram 24:10
No, and it makes total sense it can you like imagine if like all major cities had something like this, you know what I mean? Like just a local company that distributes like packaging material. Like there's of course sustainable packaging material out there. But as we both know, the more most sustainable thing to do is to use what you already have right before you even buy something that's compostable, and the perfect shipping materials. It's always to use what you already have. So this is just such a brilliant idea that you guys that you're helping companies save money, but then also helping the environment at the same time.
Alekandra Plewa 24:50
Right. And you know, as we both know, unfortunately, a lot of the packaging supplies that are made right now. They're not always fully recyclable. All and like, yeah, you know, they say that, you know, some of the mailers, for example, are made out of, let's say, 30% of recyclable material, but then it's not recyclable and like our blue bins, and we have to go that extra step to drop them off at like the right location. And, you know, like, Chicago does have those store drop offs. But unfortunately, we're starting to realize that even those aren't always the best option, because they'll just get thrown in with the rest of the trash.
Stephanie Moram 25:30
And the other thing is, I mentioned, like you're accepting all different types of shipping materials. So if like, there's a store that's like, we just take mailers, and this person is like, we just this storage just takes bubble wrap, and you have to go to multiple places to drop off your stuff. Yeah, that just becomes annoying. Again, it's all about making it easy. For like the consumer or the person that's doing the work, right, you want to make it as easy as possible. You don't want them to have to go to 10 places, no one's going like I would do it. But I'm like, again, we're like that really dark green, that will do whatever we have to do to be sustainable versus the average person is not going to drive around dropping off their shipping materials.
Alekandra Plewa 26:07
Yeah, that's why you know, like, as we continue to, like dive deeper into this packaging world, you know, we obviously come in contact with all these like, crazy shipping materials that we've never seen before in our lives. And we try to accept as much as we can. But we do have a limit right now unfortunately, like what the space with, you know, just us to basically running the whole thing right now, but in the future, we would like to accept everything. Because not only do we not take boxes, but we don't take other stuff like styrofoam and foam pad foam sheets. And so that stuff is basically impossible to recycle. The only like styrofoam recycling section that you have in the city is far on the south side. And, like even I am to the point where I just can't afford to make that drive whenever I get a little bit of Styrofoam,
Stephanie Moram 27:08
right. No, I agree. It's just and Styrofoam is like the worst. Oh my god.
Alekandra Plewa 27:15
I think Chicago was put just pushing for a bill to ban it. But I mean, the fact that it's taking this long to get Styrofoam banned is insane.
Stephanie Moram 27:26
Yeah, we just need to like get rid of all Styrofoam. Yes, please get rid of styrofoam. A disaster. So outside of like shipping, like your you know, you said you live with your boyfriend. So what is it that you guys do outside of like, you know, your obsession with shipping packaging, which is not a bad thing? I'm not saying this in a bad way at all. What is it that you guys do? Like do you guys, you know, strive to live more sustainable at home and other aspects of your life? We do.
Alekandra Plewa 27:54
Yep. So one of the stores that we're actually partnered with is a refill store. It's one of its first times in Chicago. I know. It's I know, it's a cool concept in Europe. But in the States, it's not a huge concept really. So we do want to start you know, like going to the stores and refilling like our shampoo conditioners, hand soaps, laundry detergent, stuff that we normally buy in single use packaging material, you know, supplies. So that's been one of our goals. I don't know just trying to reduce and like all the stuff that we recycle or throw away. Like I said, like Chicago's recycling system is awful. As soon as like, anything over 10% If it gets contaminated, if 10% of like the items in the recycling bin get contaminated. That's it like it's heading for the landfill. It's crazy. It's insane. I mean, that number is so low.
Stephanie Moram 28:57
And I'm so happy to hear that use refill stations. I mean, they're pretty popular here in like the Montreal area, you can readily find them I have two that I can go to quite easily and they're awesome. Like you can get like you said your cleaning supplies your your shampoo, your conditioner, like I get baking soda, I get cleaning products, I get detergent, I get all my food, like a huge portion of our food is in bulk. And there's just so much stuff that you can find at refill stations. And I just love the concept that you get to bring your own container and you don't have to keep taking those single use ICT like items, you know, like you can just like hey, I need to fill my shampoo. So like I've been using the same shampoo bottles for it's embarrassing. Like, really,
Alekandra Plewa 29:43
I think it's impressive. I don't think that's embarrassing.
Stephanie Moram 29:47
For the average person. They might be embarrassed. But it's just using oh gosh, we we've been we moved we sold our condo will be two years in the fall. So I've had the I'm like, probably for six years, eight years, like a really long time, I've had the same shampoo bottles, I just washed them, and I keep filling them. And I also don't wash my hair every day. So shampoo lasts forever in my house. Yeah, but um, it's just, I love the fact that like, I'm not consuming like a plastic bottle every time I need to wash my hair. It's just like a random like, a bottle that I've had forever. And a really good tip for soap. If anybody buys bars of soap, the best thing to buy is like a soap saver, which can be like, usually it's like a mash or something, and you put your soap in it. So that you know first of all doesn't slide out of your hand, which is the most annoying thing ever in the shower. Here's like lathering up, yeah, there goes my soap. But it stays like in a little mesh bag. And then you're not going to drop the soap. And then you could use like every last bit. And when I get to the end of the soap, I just add a new bar soap in it. And then I end up using the little ends of it. So soap savers are awesome. So if you don't have a soap saver, you to get a soap saver, just like a hot tip.
Alekandra Plewa 31:08
You see, like, there's so many like little things like that out there. But we just we're not aware of them. And like this store, this refill store. Like I said, it's one of its kinds here. And I really hope that it becomes more of a thing versus I was just ordering from Walmart or Target.
Stephanie Moram 31:27
Right? Yeah, it's hard. I think it is going to become more of a thing. I think people are being more conscious. Again, a lot of the time at refill stations, you save money because you're not using the packaging. And the other great thing about refill stations is that you only buy what you need. You know, a lot of people are like, oh, I need baking soda. Because I'm baking and you don't bake all the time, you get this like huge package of baking soda. And like baking soda lasts forever. But it doesn't last forever for baking. Like eventually, like, you know, if you google how long does baking soda lasts, I'm not really sure how long it is. But I did read that like it's great for cleaning indefinitely, basically, but for baking, like you need to like switch up your baking soda, you know, so it performs better and when you're baking. So it's like, if you don't need a lot of baking soda, then you can just get that small amount, you only need a little bit of like shampoo, because you have like tiny travel shampoo containers, and you only buy the amount of shampoo that you need. Because we just we over consume everything right? So we buy all this bulk stuff from Costco, and it ends up going bad and we never use it. So refill stations are great because you only buy what you actually need. And there's so much less waste because of the packaging, but also because you're only buying what you need.
Alekandra Plewa 32:43
Yeah, and it definitely makes you more aware, you know, when you when you're doing it on or you know, by yourself, you definitely see it. And I think same with like this packaging stuff, you know, we only do collection events once a month. And so people are really starting to see when they collect for that one month, they see how much accumulates. And that's when it really starts to you know, hit people and they're like, okay, maybe I should slow down a little bit.
Stephanie Moram 33:10
Maybe I shouldn't order every single day from Amazon. Maybe I should like consolidate those orders. And do it like once a week instead?
Alekandra Plewa 33:19
Yeah, I mean, online, you know, being able to buy whatever we want online is crazy. I mean, that's insane. The concept is just unreal. And we love it. We all love it. Especially when you know you are working so much every single day and you have all these other commitments, the fact that you can get something in two days or less. It's great, but we definitely have to start becoming more responsible for the material for the shipping materials and how often we order
Stephanie Moram 33:51
I 100% agree so outside of refill stations if you were to leave besides because I think we've hammered that one down. Everyone needs to go to refill stations and refill their stuff. That was like outside of shipping materials. That's the next step. But what is like one tip outside of like refill stations, would you offer people like maybe they're new to sustainability? They're not really sure where to start? Like what would you recommend that someone does?
Alekandra Plewa 34:17
Oh, well, the two easiest ones would definitely be reusing shopping bags and also carrying your own tumbler everywhere. I mean, I personally don't know one person that doesn't drink coffee or tea or smoothies on the daily and so just having a tumbler with you. I keep one in the car you know I'll have one like my purse. But same with shopping bags. I'll just have a bunch all over the place.
Stephanie Moram 34:46
No, and I think that's important. I think that's like the probably the first thing that people kind of when they go down that sustainability path that they jump on right like the reusables habit.
Alekandra Plewa 34:59
I Um, they make straws now that fold up and attach to your keychain. I have three of those. All my random keys. It's just it's so easy when you start, you know, making it a habit every single day, it just becomes so easy. It's second nature. I don't even think about it anymore.
Stephanie Moram 35:19
Yeah, I think, yeah. And that's like making a bad habit, right? So if it's something that's not easy to do is to make it a habit. Like, keep bringing it until it's second nature, right? Where you don't have to like, think about it. When you leave the house. It's like, did I brush my teeth? Or not? Did I bring my straw or not? Like, yes, I definitely brought my straw. I definitely brush my teeth. So if people are looking to find you, Alex, like, Where? Where can people find you on social media? On your website?
Alekandra Plewa 35:51
Yeah, I would definitely recommend our website, we basically include everything, all our upcoming events are on there, an updated list of accepted items. And then any volunteer opportunities, we really do encourage people to start volunteering around the city. Because that's, you know, when we started to volunteer, that's when we started to realize how big some of these issues are. And you meet the coolest people, too. You know, like, and with our volunteer days, we also provide snacks. But yeah, definitely our website ecoship.org We are on Instagram, we are on Facebook. We're posting all the time.
Stephanie Moram 36:36
Yeah, so go check out Eco Ship everybody. Go. If you live in the Chicago area, definitely check them out. If you have any, you know, packaging materials that you don't need any more. My husband is actually going to be in Chicago for I don't know how many months, but when I go visit,
Alekandra Plewa 36:54
oh my gosh, bring them over.
Stephanie Moram 36:56
I'm gonna like bring, I'm gonna like have a suitcase of just like, what's all this for? Nothing, nothing. It's nothing. It's really nothing. It's just I'm just bringing envelopes across the border. And then I'll have like, maybe a little drive. That's what I should do. I should drive to Chicago for about 12 hours. And I'll like fill up my car. Sorry, kids, you can't come you need to stay home envelopes are priority. And I will bring all my shipping stuff.
Alekandra Plewa 37:22
Stephanie Moram 37:26
Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for being on. I really appreciate it. I know you have a lot going on with Eco Ship and everything else you're doing in your life. So thank you so much for coming on and sharing with everybody.
Alekandra Plewa 37:39
Thank you for having me. It's really means a lot.
Stephanie Moram 37:42
You're very welcome.
Stephanie Moram 37:43
So for more green living and inspiration, you can listen to other episodes, including unraveling our beliefs around plastic with Jonathan Quinn. That's Episode #32 .You can check out Episode #29 which is Keeping Green Fun with inventor and owner of Big Bee little bee Amy Leinbach and number Episode #5 Sustainable Packaging with Cory Conners. You can stay connected with me on Instagram at Green Junkie Podcast. And don't forget to subscribe to the Green Junkie Podcast on the platform you're listening on. If you're curious about zero waste, living sustainable fashion, or wondering how to read food cleaning and product labels, I've got you covered. For direct access to me your green living expert click the link in my show notes. You'll also find the information about Alex there as well. You can ask me questions, you can get a customized plan on how you can live a greener life by hopping on a one on one call with me or you can ask your questions via email if Zoom is not your thing. I will be your personal #greengoogle and you can pick my brain. Thank you for listening, and I'll see you next Tuesday Green Junkie.