“Bring Your Own Container” store in downtown Ann Arbor
ANN ARBOR, MI – Emma Hess’ original plan outside of college wasn’t to open a plastic waste reduction business.
Born in Chelsea, she began her career at the age of 13 as an actress in various commercials, Hallmark Channel’s “Smooch” and “Home Run Showdown”, a feature film.
“I moved to LA for a year … but in the end I was like, ‘I really want to go to high school and be a normal kid who likes to play sports.’ I am really happy that I had this experience, ”said Hess.
The 23-year-old graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sociology but struggled to find work along her chosen path. However, her free time during the coronavirus pandemic led her to immerse herself in a longstanding passion for sustainability and zero waste.
BYOC Co., which stands for “Bring Your Own Container”, offers household and personal care products in bulk for customers to fill in their own containers. Previously, Hess used her parents’ kitchen to package everything, selling her products through pop-ups in yoga studios and stores in Chelsea and Ann Arbor for eight months.
“I’ve collected about 20 of these beer growers and they are really one of a kind. I got it donated. I turned them into our refills, so we’re putting half a gallon of different products in our pop-ups, ”said Hess. “I wanted to have all of these products, but popups are very limited. This was another reason a stationary location would expand our business. “
In their new 1,300 square meter space at 255 E Liberty St. in Ann Arbor, which opens in April, customers can purchase shampoo, conditioner, soap, glass and floor cleaners, lotion, shower melts, washing fluids and more. Hess calculates based on the ounces of products that customers buy.
The idea came from a video Hess saw of a Los Angeles couple running a refinery from a van.
“I said, ‘This is something I would really like to do.’ Sustainability is important to me … and I didn’t know how to put that into practice, ”said Hess.
Hess buys 5 gallon containers of cleaning products from manufacturers and sends them back for companies to recycle and reuse. If they don’t take them back, she’ll use them again.
“With the gardening work ahead, we will likely get more of our buckets out for people to use in their gardens,” Hess said.
Though deviating from her college major, Hess is “most comfortable” in this business and hopes she can hold the companies that contribute to the waste accountable.
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