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Meet Stephanie Cochrane of The Waste Less Shop in Manhattan Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Cochrane.

Stephanie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in a small town in northern Nevada called Winnemucca, it’s about a two-hour drive from the nearest city (Reno). We were isolated and surrounded by nature which created a strong bond to the natural world from a really young age. I was also a little entrepreneurial as a child and always knew I wanted to own a small business. Incorporating my love for our planet into my career was something I knew I wanted to do but wasn’t sure how. A couple of years ago, I began working to reduce the waste in my life and realized how much money it was saving me and that’s when I made the connection that I could create a living while also working to protect what I love- the beauty in the natural world.

In college, I took my first trip abroad and my world opened up. In the following years, I would trek to the highest Mt. Everest, swim with sea turtles in Indonesia, walk the dust and debris blown streets of third world countries, and snorkel coral reefs in the South Pacific. All of these moments would bring The Waste Less Shop to life and I didn’t even know it.

You see, standing on a peak at 18,000 feet staring at the sun setting over 8 of the highest peaks on earth gave me an overwhelming sense of humility in the presence of untouched nature. Swimming with a sea turtle showed me the grace and innocence of creatures in a world unfamiliar that are daily dying because of our indifference. Walking the world revealed a suffocating understanding of the struggle and perseverance of those too impoverished to disguise their trash as we do. And diving in those corral reefs gave me a gut-wrenching awakening as I found a dying testimony to the colorful life that once flourished there. All of these moments showed me the extreme responsibility we have to care for this incredible earth we live on.

I started making minor changes to my daily routine without much thought at first. The more changes I made, the more in tune with the consequences of my actions I became. Not only was I more conscious of every piece of garbage I tossed in the trash, but I realized I was saving serious money by not using single-use items in my daily routine. Eventually, my thoughts became consumed with the world waste problem and what my role would look like in solving it.

The Waste Less Shop began online in June 2019 and quickly grew into a brick and mortar in Manhattan Beach, CA in October 2019. After doing some pop-up events and festivals in the South Bay it was clear that we had the community support and desire for a zero-waste refill store.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I feel like we are just getting out of the driveway so who knows how smooth the road will be! Haha, it has definitely been a lot of work getting the products sourced, website built, then store open; but its all happened so fast that I haven’t had time to think about all of the little bumps along the way.

One thing I have had some difficulty with is sourcing products in bulk that also meet the quality standards I hold for products that are in the shop. In my preliminary research, it seemed like high-quality products only come in small single use packaging and bulk products are only toxic and low quality. It took months to find products that we felt matched the standards we set both for the environment and ourselves, but that hard work also made it rewarding!

Financially I had to take it slow as the only investment I had was some help from my boyfriend Chris Margaronis. I would have loved to build out this amazing store with all the inventory I could dream of, but I started with the basics and expanded from there.

Please tell us about The Waste Less Shop.
The Waste Less Shop was created in an effort to reduce waste by delivering sustainable alternatives to plastic household goods to earth-lovers near and far. We have an online store and just opened a brick and mortar location in Manhattan Beach, CA that offers bulk refillable household cleaning products and things like shampoo, body wash, and lotions.

We work hard to source and ship plastic-free and encourage our customers to reduce, reuse, refill, refuse, rot, repurpose and recycle.

By shopping with us, our customers also support a non-profit called One Tree Planted. We donate one dollar from each purchase to plant trees so our customers aid in reforestation through their purchases. We have planted over 1,200 trees in just a couple of months of being open!

The Waste Less Shop is the embodied desire for a cleaner, more natural world. We hope to help cultivate a society whose members are empowered and enabled to do better for our earth and for those who follow after we are gone. It can seem overwhelming and inconvenient to change habits, but The Waste Less Shop is working to make those changes easier and more accessible.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I can’t say I really would have changed anything. The growth and course has developed so organically, with me originally working full-time as a dental hygienist and building the company before/after work to then cutting back a few days at my office to spend more time doing local pop-ups and building out the storefront and finally this past week, quitting my dental hygiene job to commit full time to The Waste Less Shop. I went with the momentum of the business and took calculated risks. It has all come together so quickly but in a very organic way.

Pricing:

  • Earth Friendly Glass Cleaner $.90 for a 16oz bottle
  • Earth Friendly All Purpose Cleaner $1.50 for a 16oz bottle
  • Plant-Based Shampoo $9 for a 16oz bottle
  • All-In-One Starter Kit $237 (Valued at $263)
  • Bamboo Toothbrush $5

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Nick Sorrentino

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