Zero Waste Hero Feature: Elizabeth

Zero Waste Hero Feature: Elizabeth

Give us a little background on yourself! Where are you from, what are your hobbies/passions in life?

“I was born and raised on the Windward side of Oahu. I graduated from Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Campus in 2004 (I know all the Hawai’i people would ask!). 

My passions in life include quality time with family & friends, especially with my husband & our trio of rescue dogs (Leilee, Lola, & Li’i), enjoying delicious food, and being in nature. I especially love taking our dogs out to the beach or just being with them in the backyard while we’re gardening.”

What first got you interested in reducing your waste/living a lower-waste lifestyle?

“I’m a middle school science teacher, so I have a bunch of sinks in my classroom for kids to wash up at if an activity gets messy. I started noticing the amount of plastic soap bottles I’d throw away after students used them up. We’d also throw away a lot of hand sanitizer bottles and go through a bunch paper towels.

Then, I started taking a mental inventory at home. The thing that got me was throwing away the laundry detergent containers. Those things are huge and made of such heavy duty plastic! But as a consumer, there weren’t really any alternatives, except to maybe buy the bigger laundry detergent containers, so you’d at least throw them away less often.

The final straw was seeing the volume of microplastics washing up on our beaches on Oahu and seeing how it affects our marine life! Our island home, our beautiful beaches, were becoming tainted with this pollution and it broke my heart.

Right around that time is when I found Protea Zero Waste and I was elated that Oahu would finally have a refill store to help reduce plastic pollution!”


In what ways do you implement zero waste practices in your life?

“Since Protea Zero Waste opened, our top zero waste practice is refilling! Every time I clean out a container for refill, I get so excited that I get to save that container from the landfill and potentially polluting our ocean.

Second, we’ve reduced our food waste a lot by creating a weekly menu & shopping list prior to going grocery shopping. Sticking to the list has helped us to not have excess food that goes bad in the fridge that we have to throw away. We also try to buy local produce when it’s available for what we need, and of course we use our reusable tote & produce bags when we grocery shop! Shoutout to my husband, Bret, for always making the menu & shopping list!

One last zero waste practice we’ve implemented is composting our food scraps! We’re lucky enough to have a backyard garden and an area where we can have a compost pile. We started it several years ago and have been able to use the compost in our garden beds. Our long term goal of ours is to be able to grow all our own produce and maybe have enough to share!”

What is your favorite zero waste swap or tip?

“My favorite zero waste tip would be to start small, do a search on “zero waste lifestyle”, start where you’re comfortable, and slowly integrate more zero waste lifestyle practices!

When I first got into zero waste, I thought I needed to spend the money on the unpaper towels, buy the nice glass refill bottles & containers, and swap all my products at once to be “good” at being zero waste.

You do not have to do those things! You can cut up old shirts and make your own unpaper towels. You can use whatever bottles or jars you have (just make sure to clean them out well!) or you can check out Protea’s container donation bin! You can start with a few “easy” swaps, like with products that you are almost out of that you’d normally go buy at the supermarket, but instead you’ll refill a few containers at your local refill store!

Just remember, it’s not a competition and you don’t have to do zero waste perfectly! The fact that you’re making any small changes at all, will make a big difference overall!”

What do you love most about Protea?

“I love the energy at Protea! It always feels so bright, vibrant, and positive when I come in the store! Lori and everyone who works there have such an amazing spirit and make you feel so welcome and comfortable.

Protea Zero Waste stands out to me as a store because you can truly feel the love. Love for the environment, love for the animals, love for the planet, and love for the community…it just emanates from the store and is in the hearts of every person who has and still works there. Being able to purchase products from a woman-owned business that is focused on uplifting local products, products that are made sustainably, help me to be more sustainable, and align with my values as a consumer…ULTIMATE WIN!"

Which product or refill or both is your favorite?

"Picking my favorite products and refills is a tricky one because as a customer of almost 3 years, there are so many!

Here are some of our most frequently purchased refills/products organized by category (this way I can mention more things I love..haha!)

1) Laundry - Laundry detergent, oxygen brightener, the stain remover bar…They all do such a great job of keeping our clothes clean!

2) Shower/Bath - Shower steamers (OMG the eucalyptus), bar soaps (body, shampoo, & conditioner)…the shampoo & conditioner bars work so well to tame my frizzy hair and a little goes a long way!

3) Cleaning - Hand soap, dish soap and the dishwasher detergent!

4) Personal Hygiene - Toothpaste tabs & deodorant cream…The lavender and grapefruit deodorant creams are my favorite! I put this product to the test when I traveled to Europe last month. We left Oahu on a Monday night and didn’t get to our destination until Wednesday. We even had to run like heck through the airport to make our connecting flight. The deodorant cream is magical because there was no odor where I applied it. A must try! A little goes a long way!

5) Accessories - The “quit plastic” tote bag & the Protea produce bags! I use the tote for so many things! It’s great for grocery shopping with the little pockets to separate items and definitely for bringing to do refills. The produce bags are deceptively small, you can fill those bags beyond what they look like they can fit! It’s awesome!

6) Home - The Franklin & Myrrh Soy Candles! All smell wonderful, but my favorites are the Mangosteen & Green Coconut and the Guava Blossom & Lime!

Truly though, there are so many amazing refills & products at the store! You would definitely be able to find many things to fall in love with!”


WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH ELIZABETH! THANK YOU for all that you do in the community, all your support, and for being so uniquely and amazingly YOU!