Alyssa Ndombeson has spent years looking for ways to produce less waste.
After having started a successful social media lifestyle blog with tips and tricks on how to live with less, Ndombeson opened a zero waste store in Fresno: Good Fill.
The store is at 529 E. Shields between Palm and Van Ness avenues.
“So I knew that this idea was something that people were looking for and wanting to actually get into,” said Ndombeson. “So I’m trying to constantly find ways to make it easier, more accessible for people to reduce their waste, and make those daily habits.”
Zero Waste Options to Start the Switch
Ndombeson says she doesn’t recommend that people start by throwing everything away. Instead, she says, start by using up what you have and once a product is old or broken, switch to reusable or sustainable products.
Ndombeson’s shop offers fill-up options and reusable and sustainable products.
For example, customers can purchase dental care items such as wooden toothbrushes, as well as toothpaste tablets and floss.
She also offers skincare and kitchen products that customers can refill. These include shampoos, conditioners, lotions, dish soap, all-purpose cleaners, and laundry detergent.
In the future, Ndombeson hopes she can offer food and snack items like free loose tea, pasta, rice, beans, oats, and cooking oils.
“The possibilities are endless,” said Ndombeson. “My vision for Good Fill is to be kind of like a farmer’s market where you can get things in bulk and bring your own containers and reuse those and really be like a package-free shop that offers pretty much anything you would need to live.”
Interest In Zero Waste Lifestyle Grows
Often common in places like San Francisco and Los Angeles, zero waste shops are not the norm in the Central Valley. But demand for these shops has grown as more consumers begin to consciously shop for products that produce less waste.
Not to mention, during the pandemic, Fresno experienced an influx of residents from San Francisco and Los Angeles who are actively looking for stores like Good Fill.
Ndombeson says many of her customers moved from the coastal cities to Fresno and were searching the area looking for stores like hers.
“And I’m like, well, what about Fresno? Because Fresno has a really large population and there’s a huge opportunity here to make that more accessible for people who are trying to reduce their waste and make that a community thing,” Ndombeson said.
Millions of zero waste videos and photos are on social media with tips on how to live a zero waste lifestyle.
In fact, Ndombeson started off doing the same thing with her zero waste lifestyle brand and Instagram account, GD.STWRD which stands for “be a good steward.”
There, she shares videos and eco tips on how to gradually use fewer products.
Fresno City College Helps Jumpstart Small Businesses
After building two successful businesses, a faith-based T-shirt company and a decluttering organizational service company, Ndombeson began her online shop in March 2020.
Ndombeson says she took an entrepreneurship and business class at Fresno City College in the fall of 2019. There, she had several mentors and professors that motivated her to try another start-up.
So she created a business plan and applied to be a part of the Spark Tank Pitch competition, which is hosted by Fresno Pacific University’s Community for Transformation program.
She won close to $5,000 in funding, which helped her buy the necessary materials to open.
Later, as her business became more popular, Ndombeson was offered a space to host an in-person shop in the plant shop Let it Grow alongside other small businesses.
Eco Friendly Shops Collaborate
Ndombeson says she met the owners of Let It Grow after partnering with them when they would host vendor events outside on their porch. The shop now hosts The Book Bus Fresno and skincare store Dorothy Mae & Dominga.
She says having the shops so close together helps each one build their customer base.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun because we also share ideas with each other,” said Ndombeson. “Our customers are kind of similar and so people who are into house plants are also interested in reducing waste and like reading as well and skincare products.”
Pandemic Helped Boost Business
During the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses and stores banned the use of reusable bags. Uncertainty and fear on how the virus was transmitted allowed companies and businesses to switch back to single-use plastic bags and utensils as a precaution against the spread of the virus.
However, Ndombeson’s business increased as many people adapted to online shopping and looked for ways to buy in bulk while keeping with the trend of zero waste living.
Through her online shop, Ndombeson says she gained new customers who appreciated having the items delivered to the doorstep.
“I would take all the jugs to people’s homes and then they would leave their containers on their porch and then I would fill it up and then place it back on the porch,” said Ndombeson. “So there was no in-person contact and it was really well received.”
Store Hours and Location
You can visit Good Fill inside the Let It Grow store on 529 E. Shields Fresno, California
Good Fill is open Thursday-Friday 3 p.m-6 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m-2 p.m.