Hazel Mitchell & Little Eco Shop
I LOVE writing about businesses who are doing the right things. I don't believe a healthy ecology means sacrificing a healthy economy - the two can coexist. All it takes is small, medium and large businesses making an effort. Here's a beautiful example of that effort in play.
Hazel Mitchell runs Little Eco Shop - an online store selling eco products anywhere from bamboo dish brushes all the way to cloth nappies and handcrafted native bee homes. Love.
Hazel's main goals with her business is to help everyday Australians (hey, that's you and I!) reduce their reliance on single use plastic. A great goal, I think! A lot of her products are also helping reduce reliance on multiple use plastic, with effective alternatives available. For example, who needs plastic dish sponges and brushes when there is a beautiful range of wooden and coconut fibre alternatives that last longer, break down and look nicer?!
I really love that on Hazel's website, there is a category called 'Recycled products' which are products made from material that would otherwise go to landfill as waste. This includes the very beautiful beehive pictured, made from salvaged timber!! There is also a plastic free category for those of you going on a zero waste journey!
I put one of Hazel's DIY beeswax wrap kits to the test (Available here) and absolutely loved it! I for sure will be buying these again and making these for family members and friends for gifts! You can checkout the DIY here.
I love diving into the background of a business and learning more about the people, values and story behind it. Doesn't it make it all a little bit more special? I got to know Hazel a little better and what inspires her every day to run her business. Read more below.
What are your brand values?
Little Eco Shop provides Australian families with eco-friendly, sustainable, reusable and plastic-free alternatives. Our aim is help everyday Australians like myself reduce their reliance on single-use plastic and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. My love for the environment and this beautiful planet is what drives me to help as many people as possible reduce their environmental footprint.
How/why did you start your business?
With my lifelong love for the environment I had considered starting an eco store for about a year prior to starting Little Eco Shop but saw it more as a unrealistic fantasy rather than an achievable dream. But then my husband was offered a job which involved some international travel meaning I’d have to juggle looking after 2 young kids and working (which involved a decent commute) on my own. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to take the leap and start my own business and have the flexibility that I needed for the kids. AND I got to follow my dreams by doing my bit for the planet.
When did you start your business, and do you operate full time/part time?
Only 5 months ago in November 2018. I work 3 days a week (while the kids are in daycare) and then also in evenings and on weekends when I can find the time.
How do you incorporate sustainability into your business?
My aim is to help people reduce their reliance on plastic, especially single-use plastic, and reduce their waste. I therefore try my absolute best to do the same in my business. I ship as many orders as possible with Sendle (a carbon neutral courier), I don’t use any plastic packaging, I reuse packaging that has been sent to me as much as possible, and I try to source local products to reduce the amount of packaging and shipping required.
How do you package orders?
I use compostable satchels where possible or cardboard boxes that can be reused. I use a mix of new and used boxes depending on what I have available at the time. I don’t use any plastic packaging – not even plastic tape (I use paper tape). I either reuse packaging sent to me as padding material or I use paper bubble wrap. I also wrap products in brown kraft paper to help keep the products safe and to also provide a beautiful experience for my customers. I use compostable jute twine to tie a bow and write a small thank you note on seed paper than can be planted in the customers garden to help promote bee populations.
How do you incorporate sustainability into your own life/day to day?
I’ve always been very eco-conscious (my children were/are in cloth nappies, I buy them second hand toys and clothes, I reuse everything as much as possible and of course recycle everything) but since starting Little Eco Shop I have been trying even harder to reduce my footprint. I’m trying really hard to buy as much food as possible with zero packaging and trying to convert to a minimalist lifestyle (although this can be hard with 2 young children!). I’m also currently undertaking a “Not buying any clothes for a year” challenge (which has been surprisingly easy so far!) and have vowed to completely eliminate “The Big 4” (plastic straws, bags, bottles and disposable paper coffee cups) from my life.
What is your background?
I studied Geology and Physical Geography at university in the UK and moved to Australia 7 years ago to start a career in Environmental Science. I loved my job but left the corporate world to start Little Eco Shop.
I love learning about businesses doing good things, and even more, I love supporting them!! I would definitely recommend buying one of these beautiful bee homes and planting the seed paper that your thankyou note comes written on nearby! Also, it makes a perfect gift for any gardening / nature lover that is beautiful and low maintenance! While you're there, checkout some of the home and lifestyle items that Hazel sells, like the veggie and dish brushes! They are beautiful, affordable, quality and compostable and again, make great gift (unless you're like me and will want to keep them for yourself!!)
Another awesome thing about Little Eco Shop is that the products are listed under the categories of eco-living, eco-women, eco-bubs and eco-kits and also offer discounted eco-bundles. Making it easy to find the right things quickly :)
Beautiful little idea also: with mothers day coming up, these DIY beeswax wrap kits are a perfect way to make something practical while spending lovely time together creating!