New Encinitas business helps residents go zero-waste

The Nada Shop opened in Encinitas a few months ago.

As consumer preferences and legislative action trends more toward protecting the environment and living sustainably, a new Encinitas refillery is helping more residents live a zero-waste lifestyle.

The Nada Shop, founded by Samantha Simone, sells household and body care products such as soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, witch hazel, reusable straws and customers can get reusable containers for their purchases or bring their own.

The store’s goals coincide with new state and local laws cracking down on single-use plastics, which are at greater risk of polluting the ocean in a coastal city like Encinitas. This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Q: How would you describe the store and what was your motivation for opening it?

A: I think the easiest way to describe it is a one-stop shop for sustainable living. We are a refillery and a zero-waste shop. And basically what that means in everyday language is I provide refills for household, body care, beauty items. People can bring in their own containers and we refill. So the whole idea is to kind of help reduce single-use plastic. You go to the store, your thing of soap, your thing of detergent, your thing of lotion. It always comes in plastic. So the goal with this shop is to help reduce that and give people an alternative option. And then we sell a bunch of goods that help people live a more low-waste lifestyle, more plastic-free lifestyle. So everything from reusable paper towels, to dish-washing blocks, to products that are good for your body and good for the earth that are plant-based, biodegradable. Reusable coffee mugs, all that sort of thing.

Q: Is it a good time to open a zero-waste refillery, given the increased legislative and societal emphasis on protecting the environment and reducing waste in recent years?

A: It goes both ways. A lot of people say, ‘Well what power does one individual have?’ It’s really all these corporations that are the ones responsible for this footprint, and this and that. I think what we forget as individuals and as consumers is that there’s power where our dollar goes. By refusing to support these companies with such a large footprint, that is where we can move the needle.

Q: Is one of your main goals to encourage more local residents to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle, or to a least get them to be more conscious of the amount of waste they produce?

A: I look at it as ease and effort. The higher amount of effort that goes into something, the less likely we’re going to do it. The easier it is, the more likely we’re going to do it. And with this, I want to make it easier for everyone. I want to make it easier for the person who’s been doing this, who’s been on this sort of low-waste lifestyle for five years, 10 years. I want to make it easier for the person who walks in and says, ‘I don’t know where to start.’ It’s every type of person. So I really try to cater to the needs of everyone, because everyone has different preferences with products and lifestyle choices, and this and that. If I can help one person live a little bit more sustainably, then I feel like I am meeting my goal and the shop is living its mission.

Q: Do you think more businesses will go zero-waste? Starbucks and similar businesses, for instance, have cut out single-use plastic straws in response to new state and local laws; do you think more businesses will voluntarily take steps to reduce the waste they produce?

A: I would love to see that. It’s like crawl, walk, run. Starbucks, yeah they got rid of straws, but they still have plastic lids, so it’s like, OK, what is this really solving? I think we’ll get there one day, but I think we’re going to have to. This is the only way. Hopefully it’s one of those things we look back on and are like, ‘I can’t believe 20 years ago we were still doing that.’ You know how you look back on some things from like 20 to 30 years ago and you’re like what? Like smoking in restaurants. That was a huge thing. Now it’s very taboo. I think it’ll get there, it’s just one step at a time.

Q: What was your professional background before opening the store?

A: I was in management consulting, and I love it. I worked for a nice company. I was challenged, I was pushed. It was through that lens though that my eyes were sort of open to that whole sustainability lifestyle. I was doing a lot of traveling. When I was in college, I did study environmental studies a little bit, but that was with marketing and information systems, so I was kind of all over the place. Post-graduation, I went into management consulting, working with clients all over the country, and with that comes a lot of travel, and you’re sitting in airports and you’re doing a lot of people watching, a lot of pondering. What came to life for me is the whole use, consume and dispose society we are. Grab coffee, drink it, toss it. Grab this, unwrap it, toss it. And I’m like, there’s got to be an easier way.

Q: What kind of reception have you gotten from the community so far?

A: If you were to come in here when I first opened, it was so different. Starting a small business is definitely a challenge, but the community has been really receptive to it and it’s all been word of mouth. I haven’t spent a dime on marketing or advertising. It’s literally just been people telling their friends, and their friends telling their friends. Slowly but surely the word has been getting out. I feel like that’s how our community works.

The store is located at 937 S. Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas.