Whether you love or hate them, paper straws and canvas bags are the way of the future. Even during the pandemic, it’s still possible to live more sustainably and reduce plastic waste, thanks to some companies and organizations leading the way. Habitat for Humanity ReStore sells secondhand home-improvement items, UNLV offers 40 hydration stations to help students minimize plastic bottle waste, and thrift shops such as Goodwill and Buffalo Exchange reduce fast-fashion waste that ends up in landfills.
In 2017, Alexandra Hamilton and Brie Lujan started Minimal Market Las Vegas, a pop-up shop with a mission to offer zero-waste alternatives for sustainable living. Sourcing from only ethical companies, they sell necessities, such as shampoo, laundry detergent, cleaners, and other household goods in bulk so — when we’re all cleared to gather again — customers can come with their reusable glass jars and take what they need. Alexandra explains.
What was the inspiration behind Minimal Market?
I am a stay-at-home mom, and I have always been passionate about the environment. Once I had kids, climate change and pollution started to become more important to me. I watched documentaries and become aware of all the plastic waste. One day I ran out of laundry detergent, and I had this big, empty, perfect plastic jug and thought, I can't believe that I am going to throw this in the recycling. I wonder if there is somewhere I can get this refilled? I was shocked to find out that it was not a thing in Las Vegas. I thought if I want this other people want it.
People are busy in Las Vegas, so I was trying to think of a way to make it convenient to be zero-waste. I thought that a refill station was a great way to provide a service that makes it easy for people to reduce their waste. I reached out to my business partner, who loves making soaps and products, so we decided to go for it and start our own refill station. We always get so many customers who are amazed at the idea and can’t believe this is a new concept to our city. I feel like everyone is just blown away at the simplicity of it.
What products would you recommend to someone interested in the lifestyle?
Start with what you have. I think that's really something important in the zero-waste community. You don't need to go out and buy a bunch of stuff, you can bring a bag or container that you already have, and you can refuse to use single-use plastic bags and straws. One thing that I started doing was, I stopped using paper towels and used one of my many dish rags instead. I don't think focusing on one product is a great way to start. You just use what is available to you and change your mindset.
For our products, I think that our flagship item is our handmade cutlery wraps. These are great for when you're on-the-go. It includes Bambu Living utensils, chopsticks, a stainless-steel straw, and a straw cleaner. This makes it simple to refuse single-use utensils.
We believe that shopping locally as much as possible is always better for the environment. When you put your money into a local business it stays in your community and helps your community thrive.
And you’re operating during the shutdown?
Yes we are. We are providing contact-free, milkman-style, doorstep delivery to all Las Vegas and Henderson locals. (When refills are delivered, you can leave your old jars out to be picked up and reused.)