There is now, finally, a low-waste “ecostore” in the Sammamish-Issaquah vicinity for residents who are looking to reduce their waste, and it arrives in a van.
The Out Of The Box Eco-Store drives around this part of the Eastside, making house calls and pop-up stops in different neighborhoods. The van contains jars of bulk home products — such as cleaning solutions, laundry detergent, dish soap and all-purpose soap — ready for households to take and refill so they no longer have to buy plastic containers of these supplies from local stores.
This idea was the brainchild of Aline Bloch, a French native who grew tired of seeing how much waste was generated in her own household. When she moved to Issaquah from France more than 10 years ago, Bloch felt overwhelmed by the amount of cardboard boxes and plastic containers lying around in her house, and this motivated her to start her own low-waste journey.
“First thing I did is that I learned how to recycle properly and then I used my cardboard box and I turned them into pieces of furniture and it’s been 10 years now I’m a cardboard designer eco-artist,” said Bloch.
When she founded the Out Of The Box Eco-Store, Bloch wanted to educate people about sustainable living and offer refillable eco-solutions such as home cleaning products and personal care products.
She initially planned to open a physical, zero-waste store. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns disrupted those plans. So in April 2021, she decided to start with a van, which was custom-made by her husband Olivier. The van contains jars of home products, as well as personal hygiene products including shampoo, conditioner, body wash, baby wash, lotion, and makeup remover.
“So basically the client comes to me with a container, a jar, and then they refill and they just buy the quantity they need of the product they need so this way they reduce single-use plastic waste,” Bloch said.
Through her van, Bloch stays mobile and can cover customers across the Eastside and throughout the Snoqualmie Valley.
She also does some pop-up events, such as farmer’s markets during the summer and community pop-up events throughout the year. She notifies the community about upcoming appearances through Instagram and Facebook.
Bloch said business is going relatively well six months in and that she is still building her customer base.
“My goal is to help them make a smooth transition creating long-term green habits, which takes time,” Bloch said. “Word of mouth and community support are an absolute necessity.”
Bloch believes that most people are aware of the need to be more environmentally sustainable, but do not know where to start or what to do about it in their daily lives. She encourages people to start where they are and do what they can with what they have to reduce their environmental impact.
Bloch is currently focused on delivering the right service to customers and building stronger connections with local businesses and vendors. Giving customers an opportunity to shop in an actual storefront may be a possibility down the line.
Joanna Marshall, 29, is a frequent customer of the Out Of The Box Eco-Store who enjoys the ease of service that Bloch delivers.
“I buy a lot from her. The service is amazing, it’s great to experience shopping the van,” Marshall said.