Buffalo’s First ZERO Waste Store
Buffalo’s very first ZERO Waste – Circular Living Store opened up at Little Salmon Co. on Lexington Ave earlier this year! Owners Tracey Wei and her husband Michael Mahoney run the business alongside their two kids. The eco-friendly store got its name when Tracey exclaimed to her friend with frustration that she felt like a salmon swimming upstream trying to make a difference in a world of unchecked consumption. But instead of giving up, she used this frustration as inspiration to start her very own store with sustainability and circular living in mind in every aspect.
A Lifetime of Sustainability
Sustainability has been a part of Tracey’s life ever since she was a young girl. She was born in a small town in China where her mom walked to the local market with a grocery cart and lived a minimalist life. Tracey was shocked when she moved to the U.S. and was surrounded by a culture where everything seemed dispensable. Though her true passion for sustainability and circular living sparked in college when she went to a Liberal Arts school for Fashion and found herself at the forefront of social change movements. She quickly became aware of how vast amounts of waste were harming the environment and how companies would often look the other way. She adopted a “Buy Less, but Buy Better” motto in a bid to reduce waste in her daily life and swapped out empty products for reusable options, igniting the lifestyle that would eventually lead her to start her own sustainable business.
Being Green in Buffalo
The couple visited Buffalo on various occasions over the years and when they couldn’t find any circular living stores to shop in, they decided to open up their own. They wanted to make this opportunity accessible to those who were curious about a ZERO waste lifestyle. With an “If We don’t do it, Who will?” approach, they brought sustainability through every aspect of their business. They furnished the entire store with refurbished or second hand items. You can find an entire section of local brands to support the local economy and lower travel emissions. In addition, they buy carbon offsets for shipments where they also reuse all of their packing supplies. To further their efforts, they check to make sure every brand carried in store fits the criteria of being as sustainable as possible. Each product suits a circular lifestyle being either reusable, refillable or zero waste. They even have a refill station where customers can bring in their own containers and fill up on everyday products ranging from laundry detergent to makeup remover! And every month they continue to give back to the community through donations to several local nonprofits including the Massave Project and Upward Design for Life which furnishes apartments and homes for those in need using refurbished or second hand items.
Clean Energy at Home
Their position on green living carries into their home life as well. Their house is currently powered by solar electricity and they previously utilized both wind and solar power while living in New York City. In addition, the family participates in a city-wide compost program through Massave Project where you place your compost at a public drop-off and volunteers within the project teach local teens about the methods and benefits of composting. They reuse items when possible, refill their home & bath products, and limit new purchases. You can also see them walking around town to reduce emissions from unnecessary driving to nearby places.
Paving the Way
Little Salmon Co. has begun to pave the way for sustainable living in Buffalo. They continue to strive to educate the public and their kids on sustainability in hopes that every “Little Salmon’s” efforts will add up to make a big difference in the world. Next time you’re in Elmwood Village make sure to stop by and see the new ways Little Salmon Co. is redesigning life in Buffalo!