Along the way, An Upcycled Closet has gotten a lot of questions from customers about how to live more sustainably. A heightened awareness of consumption always leads to further questions: “How can I cut down on this? How can I change that?”
An especially common area of questioning is a zero waste household; the double-edge sword of how to tackle the necessary cleaning and maintenance of a home without all of the rotten chemicals and plastic.
If you find yourself in that camp and are local to the Twin Cities, it’s your lucky day. Tare Market is the next resident of south Minneapolis, opening their doors in Spring 2019. What started as two blogs to document zero-waste lifestyles, turned into a friendship with a shared dream by cofounders Kate Marnach and Amber Haukedah. I got the chance to talk with Kate about their future endeavors and what a storefront will do to offer customers a low impact, bulk buying option in the Twin Cities.
Tell me about your business:
Amber and I had began zero waste journey’s independently a few years ago. We had each started blogs. I have three small children and we were trying to fill that void in the zero waste world for parents and families …There still is kind of a void… it is heavily younger single women that are the voice for zero waste. Amber had begun teaching classes about sustainable living around the city. We met at a Greenfair and we got to talking. We just felt there was such a need for a store because we would get all of these questions, especially local, about “where do I find deodorant in a compostable tube?” or "where do I go to shop in bulk in more than just the co-ops?” And we always have to just say, “well, you have to order online”... which brings its own set of waste.
We wanted to make food a part of it / bulk food and package free and ones that are difficult to find like liquids and cleaners. We kind of see ourselves as being the first in the US of this model. Our goal is to be a well-rounded resource for a lot of people.
What led to your zero-waste lifestyle?
I’ve always considered myself an environmentalist, I’ve always been interested in keeping the planet clean. Unfortunately though, for the longest time I think a lot of us were fed the myth that “if you recycle, you’re doing your part.” Well, when I actually realized, “we are cleaning up the trash, but where does that go?”...it opened my eyes to this massive problem we have with how much we’ve become a disposable society that because we throw it in the trash it is “away”. My main kind of epiphany came while watching documentaries while being up with my newborns...it hit me so hard. Amber is a conservation biologist and thought she was doing her part... and attended a class about going zero waste and came out absolutely floored.
It’s an interesting thing in having the curtain pulled back a little further.
I think seeing the images of where our trash actually goes… I also watched a documentary on China and these families that run individual recycling businesses and they get all of our plastic to recycle (they are no longer) and the conditions they live in are horrid and I couldn’t believe the mountains of plastic we send them. We put it in our recycling can or garbage can and think “Oh it gets taken from our curb and I’m doing the right thing and it’s not sitting in my yard…” but it’s going to someone else’s yard.
As people start to understand those messages, how do you suggest your customers see sustainability not only as achievable but also sustainable in their lives?
I think Amber and I both went through that a little bit. We dove in and tried to eliminate every single bit of trash. But there are some things out of our control. I can’t be perfect and neither can anybody else. Our big thing is: You don’t have to be perfect to join us. You don’t have to be zero waste either. We are all about taking baby steps. If all you want to start doing is using reusable bags or attempting the bulks section… we’ve realized that the more steps you make and the more you implement these changes in your lifestyle… small steps add up. You’ll find that as you grow it’s easier and easier to continue adding new elements. We want to meet people where they’re at: Do what you can in the parameters of your life that you do and change something.
How do you see the shop adding to the local MPLS community?
We felt there was a need for a one-stop place for somebody to come in and know we have done our due diligence in curating and bringing in all of these product that are package free, compostable, and at the very least recyclable material.
Education is also a huge part. We live in a time where a lot of people rely on the internet for things, but then it can feel disconnected and disjointed. If you are finding all of your information from people in California or Europe, how are you translating that or feeling supported in your life? By having classes, groups, or holding community meals to bring people together to say, “There are other people in this community that you can learn from and feel supported in doing this.” It’s about continuing education but also about community building.
What do you normally suggest for folks that say it’s overwhelming and “where do I start?”
I think it’s really unique for everybody and you have to find something that works in your lifestyle. It maybe starts with switching to a shampoo bar instead of bottle shampoo.
My favorite tip is that if you truly don’t know where to start is to look in your trash can. Do what’s called a “trash audit” and take a look at most of what you’re throwing away. If you find a lot of your trash is food packaging, maybe try zero waste. If you find a lot of food scraps, maybe start with composting. If you have a lot of take out containers, maybe bring your own containers or start cooking at home.
Anything else I haven’t asked about that would help folks start their journey?
A lot of people have questions of how to convince others to help make a greater impact. The thing I always say is to “teach by example.” By doing it and showing people they aren’t the only people doing it is a big thing.
We are so excited to have Tare in the community. Here are the dates Kate told us to mark on the calendar + documentaries she recommends.
March 7th: Transition your Home to Zero Waste class (in their new store front!) to cover a general overview in shopping and living zero waste.
March 13th: Community meal at Birchwood Cafe
Support their crowdfunding campaign on Indigogo to help them buy the necessary inventory and building the space to supply the community with their zero waste needs. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tare-market-local-sustainable-package-free#/