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Zero Waste Bulk Store opens in the Pub

By Grey Curcio '24
Published May 5, 2022
Categories: About Eckerd, Community Engagement, Student Life, Students, Sustainability
A table display containing various items such as soap

Shampoo bars, bamboo toothbrushes and more on display in front of the cash register in the Triton’s Pub.

The unassuming cart—loaded with shampoo bars, bamboo toothbrushes and toothpaste tabs— in front of the cash register in the Triton’s Pub may just be the first step toward Eckerd College becoming a zero waste campus.

Members of the College’s chapter of Florida Public Interest Research Group held a reception to celebrate the opening of the new Zero Waste Bulk Store on April 22—Earth Day.

The idea originated with Chloe McKenna, a senior environmental studies and animal studies student from Yorba Linda, California, while taking Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Jesse Sherry’s Green Design course in Spring 2020. Chloe took her idea to PIRG. “We saw the opportunity with the Zero Waste Campaign,” Chloe says. The campaign aims to transform Eckerd into a “zero waste or low waste campus and reduce waste in various areas.”

From there, PIRG reached out to the community for guidance and to the campus dining vendor for support.

Eniko Olah, the founder and owner of Sans Market, a zero waste lifestyle store in St. Petersburg, offered the group a lot of advice during the planning stage. “She gave us recommendations on her best sellers, especially for people within our age range … she’s been super open to working with us,” Chloe says.

Olah founded Sans Market in June 2018 with her close friend and collaborator, Lin Hales. “The vision of Sans Market was to create a store that not only provided eco-friendly alternatives to replace single-use plastics, excess packaging, and toxins but [offered] an opportunity to empower and educate,” Olah says.

After considering products, location was the next step. Duke Walsh, general manager of Bon Appétit, Eckerd’s campus dining vendor, and Kenneth Brooks, the Triton’s Pub manager, even went so far as to visit Sans Market to learn more about zero waste stores. “We were really excited when Bon Appétit and Kenneth were excited about the idea as well, so we spent the 2021–2022 academic year working [on the bulk store],” Chloe explains.

Ultimately, the bulk shop was stocked and placed in the Triton’s Pub to allow students to use flex dollars—meal plan funds that can be used in other venues including the Triton’s Pub and Starbucks®—to purchase no-waste alternatives for needed household items.

“We imagined it would work best in the Pub with flex dollars,” Chloe says, “so it’s more accessible in terms of location and pricing.”

Four students holding a sign that says "Zero Waste Bulk Store" in front of the pub entrance

Chloe McKenna (front right) came up with the idea to set up a zero waste bulk shop on campus.