Stocked Co. founders Kara McFall and Marcelle Clarkson at their pop-up store, which opens every Saturday at the Wildsight Elk Valley office on 2nd Ave. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

Package-free pop-up store launches in Fernie

Stocked Co. joins Fernie waste-free movement; offers community compositing, package-free options

The average East Kootenaian produces more than 570kg of waste per year – nearly 100kg more than the B.C. average.

Now, residents can reduce their individual waste footprint with the launch of Fernie’s first package-free pop-up store.

Kara McFall and Marcelle Clarkson are the brains behind the refillery, which pops up every Saturday outside the Wildsight Elk Valley office on 2nd Ave.

The soon-to-be sisters-in-law moved to Fernie last year and were inspired by zero waste grocery stores appearing across Canada.

“I lived in Calgary before this and there were lots of options for buying not only your home goods, but personal care products and food items bulk, where you could bring your own containers and tare the weight,” said McFall.

“Moving to Fernie last year, which was very exciting on so many levels, I noticed that there weren’t as many options for that in town.”

According to a recent waste composition study, the Regional District of East Kootenay region produced 570.85kg per person in 2018.

In the Elk Valley, paper, paperboard and plastics made up for 26 per cent of household waste, while organics (both compostable and non-compostable) accounted for a whopping 41 per cent.

McFall and Clarkson try to lead waste-free lifestyles, and hope to help others do the same.

“I think that it’s kind of a journey and everyone is starting somewhere,” said Clarkson.

“For both of us, we definitely try and reduce the amount of really any type of single use waste in our life and really try to first and foremost, reduce the amount of waste, so making sure when we’re buying products or buying food, we’re buying only what we need to use and then if we’re left with waste, finding the best option for removal.”

The pair say the community has been very receptive to Stocked Co. and they have received several requests for bulk food items.

Their refill station currently includes household cleaners, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, laundry and dish soaps, as well as package-free products such as compostable bamboo toothbrushes, beeswax wraps and organic cotton rounds.

All Stocked Co. products are sourced from Canada, with the majority made in B.C.

McFall and Clarkson said they try to source as locally as possible and East Kootenay suppliers include The Bare Company from Crowsnest Pass and Fernie’s Sitka Studio.

“As we pop up and go to markets, we’re hoping to make those connections to find even more suppliers locally,” said Clarkson.

“It is important to us that the companies we source from also have a sustainable mindset, so a lot of the companies are Certified B (Corporation), Leaping Bunny cruelty free and are working to reduce waste all along the supply chain.”

Stocked Co. follows 1% for the Planet guidelines and is donating one per cent of their revenue back to Wildsight, which has been supportive of the pop-up.

McFall and Clarkson have also partnered with a local social enterprise to offer a community composting service. For $2 a tub, residents can drop off their organic waste, which Valley Vitals’ Ashley Taylor will use to create soil, feed livestock and reduce food waste.

Stocked Co. is also selling Valley Vitals eggs with all funds raised from sales and the composting service going back to Taylor.

“While it’s not plastic packaging and we might not think of it as waste in the same type of way, food waste is still a real problem and thanks to Valley Vitals we’re able to offer a solution to some people in Fernie,” said Clarkson.

McFall and Clarkson hope to become a regular feature at the Mountain Markets and Wednesday Socials, with the goal of one day opening a brick-and-mortar store.

“It would be a dream to have some kind of space open, I think that’s where we could branch into food items and really offer a lot more in terms of options,” said Clarkson.

“But for now the pop up is nice, it allows us to get feedback from people to build our customer base.”

“It allows us to be mobile and hit different areas in town,” added McFall.

Find Stocked Co. on Facebook at Facebook.com/stockedco.

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