Sustainability-Driven Boutique Simply Zero Opens on Over-the-Rhine's Vine Street

From reusable ear swabs to refillable deodorant, this new shop plans to tackle Cincinnati’s environmental footprint through education and by example.

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click to enlarge Simply Zero - Photo: facebook.com/besimplyzero
Photo: facebook.com/besimplyzero
Simply Zero

From reusable ear swabs to refillable deodorant, one shop in Over-the-Rhine plans to tackle Cincinnati’s environmental footprint through education and by example.

“Our store is not only a place to shop, but a place to gather, learn, and inspire change,” says Rachel Felous, founder of Simply Zero, a store that promotes zero-waste living and sustainability in the Cincinnati area. (The storefront is located at 1235 Vine St. in the former Spruce Nail Shop spot.)

Simply Zero offers a variety of sustainable items for the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and your beauty routine. The store’s bulk refillery also allows customers to purchase certain items for reuse such as bath and body products, household cleaning supplies and detergents.

According to Felous, what sets Simply Zero apart from related businesses is their commitment to honesty and integrity. Simply Zero makes sure each of their suppliers and their products align with the ethos of the shop. 

“We pride ourselves on thoroughly researching and vetting all of our products to make sure they’re meeting the highest standards when it comes to zero waste, ethicality, wellness and sustainability,” she says. 

Simply Zero’s flagship storefront officially opened in December, but you may have seen them previously at pop-up shops, farmers markets and online marketplaces.

In addition to providing shoppers access to sustainable products, Simply Zero intends to be a learning tool for the community. According to Felous, Simply Zero has an ongoing calendar of events that will cover “everything from introduction to zero-waste living to composting and ethical fashion.”

The events will be both digital and in-person (once it's safe to gather). 

“It’s our mission to not only provide easy access to the product, but inspire the ‘why’ within the person who takes it home so that they feel motivated to use it and, hopefully, to then go on to inspire the ‘why’ in the next person,” Felous says. 

The price range of going sustainable varies. Simply Zero has over 50 products that are under $10 as well as zero-waste kits that are a bigger investment that cost between $58 to $140. 

Within the refillery, products are all priced by the ounce and customers can decide how much or how little they want to fill up based on their budget. 

As an added bonus, you can bring in whatever reusable container you want — just make sure it's clean — and they'll fill it for you. Felous said they'll tare the container before the fill so you're only paying for the product.

“It’s important to remember that most of our products are reusable and have a much longer lifespan than traditional single-use products, so while the initial investment may be slightly more, in the long term it’s usually budget friendly,” she says.

Simply Zero, and many similar sustainability-related boutiques, have found more awareness and support from the average U.S. consumer in recent years.

According to a 2018 report published by Nielsen, nearly half of U.S. consumers said “they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.”

According to the same report, within the millennial generation (ages 21-35), 80% to 90% of individuals polled said they are more willing to pay more for products that contain environmentally friendly, sustainable, natural and organic ingredients or that claim some sort of social responsibility. 

“In the last four years, even since Simply Zero was born, the amount of mainstream media sources covering our plastic crisis or Instagram accounts influencing within the sustainable living/zero-waste space has grown tremendously,” Felous says. “I think the accessibility to the information and trendiness of the lifestyle has inspired a lot of individuals to adopt new consumption patterns aligned with new values and businesses are following.”

Simply Zero’s shop hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. The store also offers free local pickup and delivery from their online shop for both lifestyle and refillery essentials. 

Simply Zero, 1235 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. 

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