Hip Hip Hooray! Zo Zero is 3 years old. Exactly three years ago today, we sat at the kitchen table excitedly waiting for our website to go online for the first time. Three years since we were thrilled with the first orders from our friends and family. Not long after that, the first orders from 'strangers' followed. We have now moved into our own office with a small team and our baby has grown into a fun start-up.
A great opportunity to reflect on why we started Zo Zero. How did we get here and why are we doing this?
Found our challenge
Our story begins early January 2018 when we were looking for some challenges to spice up our lives. 'You wanna participate in dry January?’, no drinking for a month, why not! This was followed by a month of daily ‘planking’ and a month without TV. ‘The 12 great challenges' is the name of the file in which we kept track of our challenges and scores. We worked with a system of penalty points for the days when we did want to have a drink with friends, were too tired to work out or secretly watched Megan and Harry's wedding. In some months, we had one penalty point, in others two, the one with the least penalty points 'won' the month. The challenges were sometimes challenging, mainly mentally, but were otherwise not difficult.
The sixth challenge of the year in June turned everything upside down when a month of 'zero plastics' was on the programme. Some of the problems we encountered were: 'Can't I wash my hair?', 'I can't clean without plastic' and 'The restaurant where I eat uses plastic too right?’ Instead of some penalty points and a winner, June's notorious file reads: 'both lost so hard'. Plastic seemed to be everywhere and the number of penalties was so high that we couldn't keep score. Game over.
We thought it was impossible to live without plastic but wanted to try nevertheless. ‘Maybe we should start a plastic-free supermarket,' we wondered. The idea faded somewhat because we both live in Amsterdam and renting a location here didn't seem the easiest thing to do. But a few months later, during the Boskalis Beach Cleanup, the idea came up again. What if we started something online?
From then on, things moved fast. We came up with a name, bought our domain, built our first website, registered with the Chamber of Commerce and on 8 February 2019 Zo Zero became reality.
The plastic problem
Of course, the month without plastic was not just a random event on the programme. Images of the plastic soup, pollution of secluded beaches, enormous mountains of waste in Asian countries, animals with plastic in their stomachs or entangled in it came by more and more often. It became increasingly clear that plastic is bad for the environment. And because it does not degrade and is difficult to recycle. ‘Reduce' and 'reuse' are therefore still the best solutions to combat the plastic problem.
We have become so dependent on single-use plastics while mass plastic production only really took off in the second half of the last century. This means that things were different in the past and can be different now. What seemed impossible during our challenge, has now become part of our lifestyle. It is not about never using plastic again, but about being more aware of our choices. Do I really need this disposable cup? Do I cycle home to get my own shopping bag? Isn't the grocery shop where I buy my vegetables without plastic better than a large supermarket chain anyway?
With Zo Zero, we want to help others make more conscious choices and use less plastic without having to compromise by offering a wide variety of plastic-free products in one place. In recent years, many sustainable brands have emerged and we will continue to expand our range in order to contribute to a cleaner world. What do you mean 'game over’? This is only the beginning.
Thank you for your support over the past three years!