The Kind Matter Company - Laura Newton

1. THE BACKSTORY...

What "woke" you, Laura, to environmentalism and what were the first steps you took in living more environmentally. conscious/sustainable life?
I began my journey towards sustainability 14 yrs ago when my daughters eczema was so extreme that I began digging and researching on my own feeling that the doctors were not helping her. I found she was allergic to many foods including dairy and eggs. The information I uncovered led me to adopt a plant based diet which in turn helped me with some health issues I had been dealing with for years. This "awakening" caused me to continue researching and changing the way we lived. Over the years these changes shifted from food to products we were putting on our bodies and then to products we were using that contributed negatively to our environment. 

2. THE EDUCATOR

You're a retailer, but in that role you see yourself more as a guide and educator correct?
Absolutely! I see the shop as far more than just a retail store. I see it as a space where people can come to be educated about how they can begin their own journey towards sustainability and the positive effects each small change can ultimately have on our environment. I feel that each time someone new comes into the shop it is an opportunity to share my knowledge about sustainability and our ability as a collective to make big changes. I have learned since opening the shop that people are ready; they are ready to begin changing their daily habits and they are ready to take an active roll in ensuring the health of our planet for the future and that makes me feel very optimistic.

You sell natural cleaning products, but  you also love to share your knowledge of how to make your own... What is the most popular "recipe"?
I am a big advocate for things we can make with what we already have in our own homes and it seems that the citrus cleaner is the most popular recipe I share. People are always amazed to learn that they can make a hard-working home cleaner with just vinegar, water and citrus peels! It's really about getting back to basics and cutting out all of the harmful chemicals that we have been told we need in order to keep our homes clean. 


3. THE STORE

The store has really just launched this year and is beautifully curated, but what comes first in your decision to stock a product - use or aesthetics?
Its very simple; if I don't believe in it enough to use in my own home then I don't carry it. I need to be able to stand behind each and every item in the shop so it is imperative that I know and love every product. The majority of the products I carry are ones that I have used in my home already for years and anything new that comes in gets tested out by my family and myself before it is available to my clients. People have really come to appreciate the fact that I have taken the guess work out of it for them.
 
When it comes to aesthetics of the shop it was always very important to me to make the experience easy and enjoyable for the client. Transitioning to a new way of living is overwhelming to most so I wanted to ensure that they felt at ease walking into the shop. I keep the entire space very minimal and organized so it is easy to navigate and so that each product is able to be in the spotlight. I feel like every single item in the space plays a big part in the overall scope of living in a sustainable manner. 

4. THE PRODUCTS
Most of your products are about everyday activities like eating or shopping...So let's see your list of what you use!  You're going shopping, what do you take with you?
I always have my reusable grocery bags, produce bags, bakery bags, bulk food bags and a few empty reusable containers in my car; ALWAYS! This means that I am ready for any possible store visit, even if  it is completely unexpected. Being prepared is the number one habit to being successful on this journey. It takes a few extra minutes each day before walking out the door to ensure I have what I need for the day ahead but it also feels empowering to know that I am making a difference just by being prepared.

You're going on a picnic, or packing lunches for work...What do you use? 
We swear by our stainless steel lunch containers, beeswax wraps and reusable silicone ziplock bags. There are so many amazing products available now that make it so easy to pack a completely waste free meal! Any food waste, such as peels or uneaten portions, comes back home in these same containers so that we can properly compost it all. We also always pack utensils and our linen napkins!

Most popular item in the store? For the kitchen? For washing? For storage?
Oh gosh that is a tough question! I feel like each person that comes into the shop is on a unique journey and therefore the products they choose are different as well so it's difficult to pinpoint what is most popular on any given day. I feel like that changes each time someone new walks through the door. I do find that the refill station is becoming increasingly popular with each week that goes by. People are really taking ownership of the items that are leaving their homes and ending up in the landfill so this option has peaked the interest of a growing number of my clientelle.

Earlier this year you launched subscription boxes for cleaning products. Tell us more!
I initially built my entire business around the subscription box model! The idea behind the boxes is that we live in a society where people are so busy and not everyone has the time to research the best products nor do they know where to even begin in a lot of cases when it comes to sustainability. By putting together a quarterly subscription box that comes filled with different sustainable options each time, the recipient can focus on a manageable number of items to implement into their routine before the next box of items arrives. Introducing new products and habits at a slower pace ensures that the whole process won't be overwhelming and therefore the success rate of continuing with these new habits is much higher. Although I have transitioned to a brick and mortar location, the subscription service is still going strong and I have added different gifting options so customers can purchase from a variety of curated boxes for friends, family or clients without being attached to a subscription.

One criticism of eco-wares is that everything has a carbon footprint.  How do you respond to that?
It is true that everything has a carbon footprint however choosing items that are made as close to home as possible is one of the easiest ways to offset this. It's the same idea as buying from your local farmer instead of purchasing from the grocery store that stocks all imported foods. I try to focus on using local makers as much as I possibly can and educate my clients on the benefit of this practice. I also support companies that offset their carbon footprint by reducing their impact in other aspects of their businesses and am most excited about those that are making strides towards circular economy practices.  

What was the non-environmental product you found hardest to give up? 
There have been so many times throughout this process of transitioning to a more sustainable household that I thought "oh gosh, how will we ever live without this?" but to be honest each step on this journey has proven to me that getting back to basics is much simpler than I could have imagined. Removing the excess waste from our home truly is freeing so it has never felt like we were giving anything up or compromising our lifestyle. We have replaced convenience items such as paper towel and plastic food wrap with reusable options that do the exact same job so the transition has felt seamless.

How do you source your goods and what are you looking forward to stocking in the future?
I have been so lucky to surround myself with such a beautiful network of like minded individuals; some of whom own other sustainable living shops like mine or the makers I currently work with. This makes sourcing new products so much more manageable as we are able to share insight on our favourite low waste products. Leaning on each other for support and information is one of my favourite aspects of my business. It reminds me daily how much we can accomplish by working together as a collective.  I also attend local maker fairs and shows where I can see first hand new items that might be a good fit for the shop. 

Do you have a product idea? Or have any ambition to manufacture your own eco-product? If so, what would it be?
There are so many unbelievable people already doing so many remarkable things for our environment that I feel my place in all of this is to help shine a light on them! I love being a part of this movement by providing a space in which guides people through a gentle transition towards sustainability through education and awareness. 

5. THE ENVIRONMENT

You're a mom, and presumably a mentor to your kids re. zero waste and sustainable living, and are obviously a family aware of what's happening to our planet, how to you advise other parents to talk to their kids about the climate crisis.
I think when talking to our little ones about the climate crisis we need to focus more on the aspects of working together to create positive change and less on the big, heavy stuff that feels too out of reach for them to fix. Sometimes really getting into the knitty gritty of things has the opposite effect. It doesn't mean we need to completely shield them but presenting them with some hands on solutions works much better than just talking about the problem. Generally speaking though, I teach my kids that going against the societal grain to advocate for something you believe in doesn't make you an outcast, it makes you a leader and that we all need to use our voices and take action instead of sitting back and waiting for someone else to do so. If we lead by example it is inevitable that our children will follow. My kids know what I stand for not because I talk about it constantly but because they see me taking action everyday single day. I know they are observing and know they are absorbing. I see them adopting these practices as their own as they venture out into the world and that makes me one proud Mama.

YOUR PHILOSOPHY (OR YOUR MISSION) IN A NUT SHELL
My Mission is to help families transition to a more sustainable lifestyle by making eco-friendly products easily accessible to them and by removing the stigma surrounding zero waste that if we aren't doing it all then we aren't doing enough. The Kind Matter Company was created to empower people to make changes that work within their lifestyle and to prove that no change is too small in creating a positive impact on our environment.

info@thekindmattercompany.com



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