The presumption that zero-waste living is difficult and expensive still resonates with many people, but Linh Truong has been a leader in counterarguing that belief.
She is the co-owner of the Soap Dispensary & Kitchen Staples on Main Street, which is the first refill shop in the city that specializes in soaps, household cleaners, personal care products, and cooking ingredients.
Established in 2011, the local and independent business now carries more than 800 bulk products for customers to refill—all they need to do is bring in their reusable containers or purchase one in-store. Truong makes it a point to carry biodegradable products at her shop in an effort to create as little impact as possible on human and environmental health.
She understands that adapting a zero-waste lifestyle and getting into the habit of refilling household items may be foreign for many city dwellers, but it’s important to her that she helps spread awareness on this matter.
“Zero waste is a journey. At the time, I wasn’t really even conscious of the word zero waste,” Truong told the Straight in a phone interview. “But I did know that refilling made the most sense, and reusing my containers made the most sense. So, I was doing it out of a practicality, not under the banner of a movement.”
Her business is one of the first in Vancouver to make a conscious effort to help consumers reduce waste and live a more ecofriendly and sustainable lifestyle, and that sentiment has been echoed with the opening of similar shops around the city.
“Hopefully, it’s [zero waste] on its way to becoming just a normal thing. It should be the default of how we shop and live,” Truong sais. “It’s becoming popularized so it can become normalized. It shouldn’t be treated as something special that people do. It should almost be you’re on autopilot, just like how people are with recycling.”