There has never been a better time to live a more sustainable life. Nowadays, there are plenty of ways to incorporate eco-conscious initiatives into your daily routine, including paying a visit to a zero-waste grocery store!
Salina Derish is the founder and CEO of PickEco Refills, a zero-waste grocery store in the Mill Street and Wellington Street area of downtown Chilliwack. The business lets customers refill products rather than rebuy, with the goal of making it easier to live, eat and shop sustainably.
“In my teenage years, I was always very passionate about the environment and sustainability,” says Derish, “While I kind of lost track of that a little bit as I grew up, now that I’m an adult and after having kids, I realized I wasn’t living a life that aligned with my values. I began reducing my waste and realized that there was nowhere for me to really get things in a waste-free way here in the Fraser Valley.”
Derish began reaching out to people and sharing her thoughts on having a zero-waste grocery store in the area, and after no one was receptive to the idea, she eventually decided she would open one herself.
PickEco sells everything from bulk pantry staples (like dried fruits, grains, legumes, beans, maple syrup, oil) to personal care products, empty reusable jars and containers, and cleaning tools.
For those looking to live a more “green” life themselves, Derish advises taking it one step at a time. “Telling people to go fully zero-waste can sometimes be intimidating,” she says, “So I like to tell people to start in a way that feels natural and comfortable, then take ANOTHER step and slowly work your way into living sustainably.”
Derish likens it to going on a diet. If it’s too extreme, people give up pretty fast, so it’s important to take it slow. Think of it like a lifestyle choice rather than a “trend” you follow for a short time before giving up.
Derish has had a passion for sustainability most of her life. “I recall reading stories almost daily about a whale washing up on shore with 200 kilograms of plastic in its stomach, or our birds and turtles and wildlife being strangled by plastic bags,” she says, “What we’re doing to the planet is damaging, potentially beyond repair, and we need to do something about it.”
PickEco is 100% owned and operated by women, including its employees and leadership. When COVID-19 first hit, the business stayed open. “Being a food place, we never actually closed our doors. Since we needed to stay open, we were doing deliveries like crazy and taking orders over the phone. We didn’t have an online ordering system set up yet, and it was all just really tough at first.”
Derish says it felt devastating to come to downtown Chilliwack and see none of the other stores open. But once restrictions were eventually loosened, the other businesses in the Mill Street area came together, cross-promoting one another on social media and finding other ways to connect. “It really is a community here, and everybody wants to see each other thrive and do well, COVID or otherwise!”
2 – 9360 Mill St, Chilliwack, BC V2P 4N2