If you’re starting to panic about how many plastic straws you’re using on a daily basis to fuel that iced-coffee addiction, you’ll no longer have to trek all the way to Brooklyn for eco-friendly reusables. Starting this week, Williamsburg’s Package Free shop is taking Manhattan from trashy to tasteful with a Chelsea Market outpost.
Package Free Shop Chelsea Market is 300 square feet of goods that are good for the earth. The design of the store is in line with Package Free’s zero-waste model, too—all of the shelving and modular, reusable furniture was handmade by Josh Colon using sustainable wood.
“We designed everything for what happens in the future,” said Package Free CEO Lauren Singer. “So if we wanted to move locations everything is totally reusable or it could go in someone’s house.”
Other touches in the store include a locally-made arrangement of wheat and decorative items from Singer’s own home. “I wanted to make this store really cozy and really homey, and mix old and new to make it warm and have a bit of a more vintage feel,” said Singer.
The new location’s opening comes shortly after Package Free announced that a $4.5 million investment would allow it to scale its operations. The store wasn’t funded by the venture capital, though, speaking to Singer’s sustainability-focused financial model and the rise in demand for sustainable products.
“Even if we hadn’t taken on venture capital, we would have been able to support it with cash flow,” she said. “I’m very much still flexing my muscles of bootstrapping and only spending money I absolutely have to spend.”
Package Free came to be through Lauren Singer’s personal blog, Trash is for Tossers, where she shares tips for the eco-conscious consumer. Singer opened a pop-up shop on Grand Street in Williamsburg in 2017, which is now the site of Package Free’s flagship store. With the help of online marketing, Package Free has grown from a little-known startup to a major player in the zero-waste movement.
The eco brand prides itself on waste diversion across both the store locations and the e-commerce site. Package Free says it has diverted over 75 million units of trash (including plastic bags, water bottles, straws, coffee cups and disposable razors) since its 2017 launch by making its plastic-free products more accessible.
The sustainability movement is flourishing in the city. Brooklyn-based Precycle and The Wally Shop have continued to scale up their offerings of local, package and plastic-free grocery items, while clothing retailers Zero Waste Daniel and Everlane are bringing radical transparency and waste reduction to the fashion industry.
The Chelsea Market location is another way for Package Free to expand its mission of making sustainable products more accessible in New York. Singer said that she hopes more people will visit the store since the new location is off the L, A, C and E trains as well as the highway. She also wants to educate tourists visiting Chelsea Market about the zero-waste movement.
“Around six million people walk through Chelsea Market every year,” said Singer. “So being able to let that many people know that you can reduce your waste and have a more positive environmental impact is a huge opportunity to align with our mission and help make the world less trashy.”
Package Free Shop Chelsea Market is located at 75 9th Avenue and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.