Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Just Toledo: Making Strides in Sustainability

Over the past decade or so, there has been a rise in the movement for businesses to adopt eco-friendly practices when creating and selling products. People have become increasingly wary of the substances they put on their skin or use to clean their houses. More than ever, people want healthier, cleaner alternatives for the items they consume. 

Overcoming one-use containers

The food and health and beauty industries are the epicenter for the rise of all-natural, sustainable products for the average consumer. These industries, in the past, had been particularly well-known for having one-use packaging and for using harsh chemicals. While recycling is an option, it still creates waste. An accompanying problem is that products that are marketed “eco-friendly” are often more expensive for the average consumer. Just Toledo is a business that bridges the gap between quality, eco-friendly products, and sustainable, local business practices. The Just Toledo goal is to offer homemade products, using all-natural ingredients, at a low price. 

Just Toledo working toward ‘zero waste living’

charcuterie board with crackers and cheese
Just Toledo also sells a variety of food products, including crackers and seasonings for use in cooking

Just Toledo, founded in March 2020 by Courtney Fillion with her daughter, arose from Fillion’s interest in “zero waste living.” The proprietor wants to encourage others to adopt more eco-friendly practices. She noticed that, even though people were recycling, there were few options to reduce or reuse. The importance of activism came into focus when she realized how many marginalized communities are affected by environmental pollution. 

Fillion wanted to find a way to create sustainable products and an environmentally conscious way of delivering those products. She began researching which preservatives to use that are safe and biodegradable, providing a two to three-month shelf life for the products without using harsh chemicals. 

On January 1, Anna Bennett became co-owner, with Fillion, of Just Toledo. Anna Bennett explains her decision to join: “It wasn’t until I was 27 and in my 200 hour yoga teacher training that I watched a powerful documentary about the environment and I realized that I’ve been ignoring a huge problem. I wanted to start making changes immediately, both in my personal life and with my small business (making dog treats).” Together, Fillion and Bennett are working to reduce everyday waste by providing reusable packaging for their products. Fillion explains, “For every container reused, waste is diverted from the landfills. Because the products are made locally, water weight is kept off the roads, thereby reducing petroleum use in the transportation of goods.” 

The business is based mostly online, but they also have a traditional storefront at 909 Jefferson, in the Davis Building, downtown, along with a pop-up table at the Toledo Farmers’ Market. Prospective customers can visit the website at justtoledo.net to select items that range from hand soap to all-natural deodorant to homemade crackers. All of the products are packaged in reusable glass jars and delivered straight to your doorstep. The jars are picked up whenever you are ready for the next order, and the price of the order is discounted based on the number of containers returned. Just Toledo also offers financial assistance to customers, allowing a larger number of people to participate in a zero-waste lifestyle, regardless of their financial status.  Looking at the future of Just Toledo, Fillion says, “We would like to expand our offerings to include bulk foods and to find better ways to reach underserved communities. In addition, we want to continue to partner with other local makers in sustainable ways.” 

909 Jefferson Ave., Toledo. 419-973-0084. justtoledo.net.

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