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“Being outside was where it felt sacred,” Kimberly Flores recalled.
She was 10 years old and camping with her grandparents when she was struck by the majesty of nature.
“This is a gift that was given to us,” she told CNN. “We get to live in this space and we need to take care of it.”
Flores is the owner of fulFILLed – a zero waste and refill store in Park City, Utah, where customers purchase sustainable household and personal care products. With refillable glass bottles, shoppers can buy all-purpose cleaner, shampoo, conditioner or laundry detergent by the ounce.
“I have 40 different refillable products,” Flores said. “We are putting out the cleanest products that are currently on the market and you’re purchasing it without having to buy your own trash. “
Before starting her business, Flores was a television reporter for 15 years.
“At seven years old, I would watch the news with my grandmother,” Flores said. “She told me one day ‘you would make a really good reporter.’”
Toward the end of her journalism career, she focused on environmental storytelling.
She relished informing and educating audiences about pollution and sustainability, but that deeper calling she experienced with her grandparents compelled her to do more.
It started in a van
Flores left the TV industry in 2017 and opened Utah’s first mobile refill shop in 2021.
“This was just supposed to be my side hustle. I was going to do this while I had my big girl job,” Flores said with a laugh.
But that side hustle turned into a full-time career.
“I knew I had to live a life with less plastic. And so that’s why I’m trying to help my community. It needs to start with consumers.”
She opened a brick-and-mortar fulFILLed shop later that year.
According to a study in 2020, despite efforts to reduce waste, there will still be an estimated 710 million metric tons of plastic polluting the environment by 2040.
But that doesn’t stop Flores’ mission to educate others about the low-waste lifestyle.
“Thousands of plastic bottles and plastic packages have been kept from the waste stream and landfills since we opened the doors of fulFILLed in October of 2021. We don’t have an unlimited supply of resources. We’re gonna have to start thinking about reusing and recycling.”
Transitioning to a plastic-free lifestyle can be overwhelming and won’t happen overnight. So, give yourself some grace. Flores provided four simple but impactful tips to get started:
- Have a reusable water bottle on hand to avoid single-use plastic bottles.
- Bring your old plastic bags to the grocery store or purchase a reusable grocery bag.
- Carry utensils to reduce the use of plastic ware.
- Bring a reusable coffee cup to your favorite coffee shop.
“Plastic is made to last, and it takes more than 400 years to break down,” Flores said. “So the more we try to reduce single-use plastics, the better it will be for our community, our country and our world.”