Twenty-seven-year-old entrepreneur and waste-free enthusiast Gabrielle Lauren has found a way to make an impact and help others do the same by offering environmentally, ethically and economically friendly ways to “Fill More Waste Less” — the descriptive name of her independent business venture.
Lauren found her way into the world of waste-free living while running her own candle, bath and body business called H&B. When she learned of the negative environmental impact of this industry, she wanted to make a change.
“I fell in love with having a business and cultivating a line of products to present to people, but as I continued on that journey, I realized how not environmentally friendly candles were,” Lauren says. “I started diving into different venues to explore how I could create (eco-friendly) products for people and serve as a resource as well as a saleswoman.”
And so, the idea of a zero-waste refillery, Fill More Waste Less, was born.
One of Lauren’s initial aims was to create a local spot where people could come to shop for eco-friendly products with reasonable prices at any point in their waste-free journey.
On her website, it says: “As a nation, the U.S. population sends an average of 7 lbs of waste per person to landfills every day accounting for 30% of the planet’s total waste, even though we only make up 4% of the global population. We know what you’re thinking, ‘no matter how big of a change I make it’s not going to make a difference.’ But we have found this lifestyle change brings fulfillment, a sense of gratitude for the things that we do have and empowers us to make changes that have a positive impact on our environment — big or small.”
“Trying to debunk the traditional zero-waste living and make it attainable was my goal,” Lauren says. “You don’t have to fit a year’s worth of trash into a jar to make a positive impact.”
But, like most things, the original sales and marketing plan of hosting pop-ups around town was dashed by COVID-19, leading Lauren to switch to an online selling platform.
At fillmorewasteless.com, shoppers can find household essentials from laundry powder and deodorant to biodegradable kitchen sponges and reusable coffee filters. She explains that some of the most popular products she carries are dish brushes with replaceable heads and kitchen towels (to replace paper towels). “It’s the easiest switch that makes the most sense and isn’t a huge adjustment,” she says.
Fill More Waste Less also offers sleek and refillable jars that you can fill and refill with shampoo and conditioner, lotion, hairspray, toothpaste and more.
Lauren tests and researches all of the products available personally and with the help of her mother. They ensure that the products meet their quality standards, are cruelty free, if not vegan, and that those who produce the products are making a fair wage.
And Lauren actually says that launching at the start of a pandemic may have helped her business.
“I definitely think that at the beginning of COVID, people’s mindsets switched,” she says. “People started thinking about the everyday things they were bringing into their lives and wanted to simplify and find (products) that were beneficial to not only themselves, but to the environment.”
Lauren found that the Cincinnati community was in need of a zero-waste resource, but she also received an influx of customers and attention due to her business being recognized and shared as a Black-owned business during the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.
Because of the success of her online shop, Lauren will be opening a Fill More Waste Less storefront come fall 2020. Located at the corner of Bramble and Whetsel avenues in Madisonville, the shop will be “clean, simple and modern, with a vintage twist.”
A resident of Madisonville for almost three years, Lauren wants to “bring more of a community feel to the Bramble and Whetsel corner and continue to build the community up from within.”
After operating out of a two-bedroom apartment since the genesis of Fill More Waste Less, Lauren says the change of scenery will be welcome, as the business has outgrown its current space.
“It will be much easier to reach customers and be there as a resource and cut out the barriers for people to attain zero-waste essentials with a storefront,” Lauren says.
While being a twentysomething, Black, woman business-owner and entrepreneur is plenty to be proud of, Lauren says that her biggest pride is the way that her customers have “showed up, and continue to show up.”
“It brings me a little bit to tears because I didn’t expect this,” she says, “It’s what I’ve worked for, it’s a feeling of fulfillment in every way. I’m just really thankful.”
Lauren says that she plans to continue to meet the zero-waste demands of Cincinnati, providing services and resources, and expanding in the future if needed.