Welcome to the Neighborhood: Sustainable Village, 318 East 9th Street
Today we welcome a new small business to our neighborhoods — help us welcome the next. Tell us which new independent store in Greenwich Village, the East Village, or NoHo you’re excited about by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As advocates for local small business, we find great satisfaction in hearing of new independent establishments opening in our neighborhoods. These arrivals give us hope that reports of the death of mom-and-pops have been greatly exaggerated. Whenever such occasions present themselves, we like to share our enthusiasm with the world in the hopes that others will join us in wishing our new neighbors a warm welcome, and more tangibly, patronize and spread the word to help ensure their success and survival.
If you’ve ever noticed the mountains of boxes out for delivery on our sidewalks or to the mountains of barely used stuff out on the curb for garbage pickup, perhaps you’ve wondered whether it might be time to rethink your own consumption habits and do your small part in giving the planet a fighting chance. But maybe you don’t know where to start. If so, you’re in luck. A great store opened a few months ago in the East Village between 1st and 2nd Avenues that may not have all the answers, but will definitely help you in your search. Sustainable Village is an exciting addition to an already fantastic small business corridor along 9th Street, launched by Em and Jaclyn, local friends who decided they wanted to share the fruits of their own experience with sustainable lifestyles. Jaclyn explains:
We wanted people to see all these products that we kept discovering in our journey with sustainability. But also we’re Village residents and we love our neighborhood; and we were tired of the empty storefront; so we thought, let’s take up a storefront!
Sustainable Village is a kind invitation to explore ways to consume better. Jaclyn, who embraces in her own choices the store’s guiding principle of “progress, not perfection,” wants to introduce customers to a constantly evolving selection of innovative sustainable products, just as Em, her more rigidly committed, zero-waste business partner, long did for her. The heart of the store is a refillery, where you bring empty containers (or buy them there) and purchase, without any of the packaging waste, body and home products by the ounce. You can get laundry soap, hand soap, shampoo, and conditioner in a variety of fragrances, from all the way from unscented to rosemary mint vanilla.
The current economics of the refillery business make this aspect of the operation more a passion project than an economic driver. The store has therefore complemented this department with a wide array of attractive products that will tempt you to take further incremental steps toward sustainability. These come from domestic and local brands that Jaclyn and Em select both for the quality of their products and for the sustainability of their production methods. These items all offer opportunities for replacing their conventional counterparts. To educate customers on those possibilities, Jaclyn likes to start by leading customers to make easy swaps and to then let those swaps change the customers’ shopping mindset. An especially easy one involves Unpaper towels: attractive paper towel alternatives that decorate your kitchen top whenever not in use.
Other highlights from the store’s eclectic merchandise include stashers (i.e., ziplock bag substitutes), bamboo toothbrushes, an array of composting products, no-waste lint removers, and a selection of reusable dryer balls (i.e., adorable laundry sheet replacements).
And then there are also “sustainable-light” products, like a hot sauce made with Bronx community garden ingredients. These are there, according to Jaclyn, to entice sustainability neophytes.
We don’t want people to come into our store and be scared off and think it’s not for them, think “this is too sustainable.” So we lure them in with hot sauce by our friend and with craft cocktails. So that people turn around and say, “oh. I think I can make a change like that.
Sustainable Village is still in the process of figuring out how to fashion a business out of the tension between consumption and sustainability. As a result, new products are coming in all the time. For one, brands are only now beginning to find the store; for another, Jaclyn and Em keep adapting their search for new products based on their customers’ interests. In the meantime, Jaclyn is relishing the opportunity to open for her neighbors a door to a more sustainable future and, by her own account, her neighbors seem to be appreciating the offer.
Opening this store is the first time I’ve felt like I am living in the Village I want to live in. People come in and we talk and we’re in community; and it’s so important especially after the pandemic. And I’ve made so many new friends on the street where I’ve lived for so many years. And that has been nice. Everyone has been so welcoming on 9th street.
Swing by Sustainable Village at 318 East 9th Street (1st/2nd Ave.), discover the many appealing ways of replacing thoughtless, disposable consumer products, and dare to be swept up by Jaclyn and Em’s passion for making the world a better place.