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Meet Julie Darrell of BYO Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Darrell.

Julie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have lived in Long Beach for about 15 years, and like many people who are environmentally conscious, I had already been in the habit of recycling, bringing my own shopping bags to the grocery store, and bringing my own water bottle. Beyond that, I wasn’t doing much to make improvements. Then I borrowed ‘Zero Waste Home’ by Bea Johnson from my library and was so inspired.

Many of the things in the book were things I had tried at one point but got lazy about over the years between having kids and working. I started my Instagram to help inspire people to challenge themselves beyond what had become routine. I wanted to focus locally on Long Beach because I think this city is full of people who care but may not have the tools or feel overwhelmed on where to start.

Being a beach city, we are fully aware of the massive problem single-use plastics and disposables have on our oceans and beaches. I was able to find package-free foods at the farmers market and local grocery stores. But finding package-free soaps and body care products was near impossible. I figured that I can’t be the only one looking for these products, so I started a pop-up shop.

My first pop-up shop was at the end of August 2017, and I was so excited to see people interested and supportive! In November of 2017, I was invited to bring my refill station to Algalita, a non-profit that does research and education on plastic pollution.

Since then, we have worked together as a team to expand the shop to have more zero-waste alternatives to single-use products. We are constantly adding new products that come on the market, and try to source the best sustainable options available.

Has it been a smooth road?
My background is in Interior Design for hotels and restaurants, and I’ve never owned my own business. So my struggles mostly stem from not knowing how to make the most basic business decisions. I would say that my mind is more in the creative side, but I’m learning how to manage the business side of things.

Also, sourcing my products has been challenging. There is a lot of greenwashing out there, and I want to be sure that I’m not contributing to that problem. I try to source as local as possible, with the best ingredients available.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with BYO Long Beach – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
BYO Long Beach offers package free products for those striving for a less-waste lifestyle. We have liquid soaps and cleaners, laundry detergent, baking soda, vinegar, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body oils, and teas available by the ounce.

Customers are encouraged to bring their own container for refills, or they can buy a container to fill themselves and bring back for refills next time. We also sell reusable alternatives to single-use products like stainless steel straws, cloth produce bags, natural cleaning brushes, bamboo toothbrushes, and many other plastic-free goods.

We are the only shop of this kind in Long Beach and one of only a few in the entire greater Los Angeles area.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Since I’m not a native to Los Angeles, I am one of the many who was drawn to this city for all the sunshiny days and the broad diversity in both the landscape and the people. It has become my home, and I am so grateful that my path has led me here. Los Angeles, as well as the rest of the US, has a lot of work to do in changing our disposable culture. We use things once and toss, without thinking of the impacts on our land and water.

We love our beaches, mountains, and public parks, but if we continue on this path of destruction and thoughtless consumption, we won’t have it for much longer. My hope is to be able to change the habits of our everyday lives to make simple changes that will have a long-term positive impact.

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