Eco Now, a zero-waste sustainability company, caught my eye when I visited my local farmers’ market in Orange, Ca. They had a fun booth with a bunch of eco-friendly options for daily life. In particular, they had eco-friendly Ziploc container alternatives which I had been eyeing on Instagram. I couldn’t resist picking them up while there. I was surprised to learn that Eco Now already has three Orange County locations.
Their business model is geared toward earth-friendly refills and cutting down on the plastic container consumption that happens when you need things like soap, cleaners, shampoo, etc. I was excited to find out that they use Avery WePrint labels for all their refill containers.
Check out our Eco Now Avery Customer spotlight to follow their journey and all the helpful tips they have for anyone looking to be more eco-friendly.
The Eco Now story
Thea Merritt founded Eco Now in 2018 to provide a resource for the OC community to reduce waste. She began by hand-sewing alternatives for single-use plastics and offering them at the Placentia Certified Farmers Market. She expanded to serve more residents by attending farmers’ markets all over Orange County. In October 2019, she decided to focus on Eco Now full-time and resigned from her position as a special education paraeducator at Troy High School.
She opened her first shop in an Airstream trailer at The LAB (Little American Business) Anti-Mall in Costa Mesa. The LAB was special to Thea as she would ride her bicycle on the Santa Ana River bike trail from Fullerton to Costa Mesa to see her boyfriend and they’d visit the location frequently.
Thea expanded to a small triangle store at The LAB in January 2020, which became the first zero-waste store in Orange County. They had plans to celebrate the grand opening in March but the pandemic put a stop to the celebration and everything Thea and her team accomplished.
Responding to pandemic
Thea quickly adjusted to the “new normal” and was an essential resource for others when hand sanitizers, hand soap, reusable face masks, and toilet paper were scarce. She followed CDC guidelines and continued to attend farmers’ markets to be a resource for her community.
In November 2020, Thea wanted to be more accessible to others and be closer to her hometown in Fullerton which led her to open a second store in Anaheim. The new store opened on Small Business Saturday with an inspiring turnout during the hardest times of the pandemic.
When Thea discovered that some customers were traveling to her Costa Mesa and Anaheim locations all the way from the Inland Empire, she started attending the Vegan Depot Farmers’ Market in Corona with her pop-up store. That eventually led to her third store location in Riverside, where her fiancee grew up. She opened the store on Juneteenth in 2021 in partnership with Meraki Plants and they became the first zero-waste store in the Inland Empire.
The company continues to support and grow local businesses near their locations. Gather Air plant store is now part of the Anaheim location. They also accept hard-to-recycle plastics at the Anaheim store so people can practice a zero-waste lifestyle through their TerraCycle service with non-profit partner H&B ProdEx.
Success and challenges
Along with being able to provide services and items to consumers wanting to practice a more sustainable lifestyle, Thea says her biggest successes are being able to grow thanks to loyal customers and providing jobs for team members who want to be part of the mission.
“It has been a rewarding experience for us to be able to impact many people’s lives in being more conscious of their environmental impact,” Thea said.
The biggest challenge for the company has been reaching their audience and teaching people about earth-friendly alternatives so they can make zero-waste living more convenient. Too often, the price of convenience comes at the cost of our environment and leads us to this perpetual cycle of people collecting single-use items in particular and adding them to the waste system. Eco Now offers an option for people to reuse their items and avoid waste.
“It’s all about teaching and education, as many people don’t know where to start,” said Thea. “But for the people looking to start, they are really receptive to what we have to offer.”
Why Avery WePrint labels?
Eco Now chose to partner with Avery since they were a local brand, helping reduce travel emissions. The company also liked that the labels are durable, reusable, and waterproof – perfect for refill bottles and jars. The roll labels also reduce waste and enable recycling.
Traditionally label makers that produce thick plastic labels were used. But they can’t be reused and often fall off when exposed to water. Thea wanted her customers to be able to switch to different products using the same containers and not have to waste their labels. So they use Avery WePrint film labels that allow their customers to write on the labels with a grease pen, erase and reuse them.
Eco Now accepts all containers to refill, no matter the size, shape, or original use. Some people refill their old plastic shampoo bottles, liquor bottles, Tupperware, and more. Many customers like to make their own soaps, face oils, hair oils, deodorant, aftershave, etc. So with the refills that Eco Now has on tap, customers can mix products as they refill too.
Some customers like to use what they have first before getting new, sustainable options. For those who can’t wait, they can take advantage of our free TerraCycle recycle plastic services at the Anaheim store. This free service is in partnership with the company’s nonprofit partner H&B ProdEx and donations are always appreciated.
Future plans for Eco Now
Thea plans to continue their mission of making sustainable, zero-waste living more accessible and affordable to people who don’t have these resources local to them. They also want to make educating people on sustainability more fun and engaging through their social media and pop-up events.
Eco Now currently offers a line of items that they make themselves since they began such as eco-towels, eco-cloths, and eco-face rounds. They plan on making the “Now Bag” to help people carry all their zero-waste living essentials.
“A zero-waste lifestyle is a gradual process and it’s more of an ideology than something that is consistently achievable,” said Thea. “Making everyday imperfect zero-waste choices is better than not attempting to make any changes at all. That is why with Eco Now, we practice mindfulness and being sustainably present.”
Check out Eco Now to order eco-friendly supplies and come visit one of their three locations for your local refill needs. They also provide event locations where they will be each month. And be sure to follow them on Instagram @eco.now.ca.
To order your own custom durable labels visit Avery WePrint.