Friday Fuel: Perfection is Not The Goal, But Progress Is

Living in Coastal California means summers filled with sun, the beach and getting out into as many local parks as possible. It also means being confronted with lots of crowds and daily reminders of how much trash we create. A reality filled with overflowing trash cans and the unfortunate predictability of trash washing up on our shores.

Sometimes it is overwhelming to even know where to begin. We all want less trash floating around, but it is difficult to know what can be done.

That is why the story of Julie Darrell is so inspiring. Darrell’s story is a reminder that we can all do a little to make a big difference. She opened up a store where local Long Beach residents can purchase hundreds of different items aimed to reduce household waste. Julie’s store carries an alternative to pretty much any disposable item that you currently use in your house. The store is called BYO (Bring Your Own) and is located at 48 N. Marina Drive in Long Beach’s Alamitos Bay.

“Perfection is not the goal, but progress,” is Darrell’s mantra. “We can’t all do everything, but everyone can do something.”

The goal of BYO is to empower the local community to reduce their use of disposable items, thereby reducing the amount of trash that ends up in our oceans, parks and polluting our communities.

You can find an alternative to plastic wrap, tupperware, laundry detergent bottles, sandwich bags, paper towels, goes on and on. There is a refill station where you can fill reusable bottles with laundry detergent, hair shampoo, conditioner, window cleaner -- they have it all.

Darrell’s BYO Store was a simple idea that then slowly grew into more. It was born from a mother wanting to model something better for her children, and then turning that idea into something small at farmers markets, which eventually lead to having a store front. Julie saw a problem and then decided to be the change she wanted to see happen.

“I felt like there was more I could do,” she said about going beyond reusable grocery bags and water bottles. “I was trying to find things package-free… But I couldn’t find personal products like shampoo and detergent, and I decided that since there was nothing here that existed, I would create my own.”

To learn more about the BYO store or Julie’s Story check out the Gazetter article HERE.

Are you interested in reducing your use of single-use plastics and other disposable items? It is easy!

Step #1: Visit a BYO store like Julie Darrel’s. If you don’t know where one is in your community, then either (1) give the Long Beach BYO Store a call and ask them to help you locate one -- (562) 598-4889 or (2) go to the BYO website to learn more.

Step #2: If you can’t go to a BYO store, look around your kitchen or bathroom and identify 1-3 disposable items that you could replace with something reusable. (Ideas are...plastic cutlery, plastic water bottles, plastic straws, paper towels, dish soap in plastic bottles, shampoo/conditioner bottles, ziplock bags, etc.)

Step #3: Set a goal of replacing at least one disposable item in your house with a reusable alternative. See how long you can last. Once you get comfortable with one item, add another.

Businesswoman Julie Darrell owns BYO Long Beach, a retail shop that sells items that can help people reduce their reliance on plastic products. About 10% of proceeds at BYO benefit the local nonprofit Algalita. Photograph by Ashley Ruhl

To learn more about how students can get involved in social innovation projects, internships, volunteer opportunities or develop their leadership skills, contact Mentor Me Learning, or go to their website programs page.