Zero-Waste Chat with Allie of Bring Your Own

It’s always fun to hear about the cool places that GladRags have been, but it’s more rare that we get to find out about unique places they’re sold. Harrisonburg, VA is the home of Bring Your Own, a shop for reusable, sustainable products based out of a renovated 1975 Airstream trailer! We spoke to Allie, the owner and founder of Bring Your Own, to learn more about her zero-waste journey and get some handy tips.

On your website, you talk about how you expanded your own zero-waste lifestyle into classes and the shop. How did your zero-waste journey start?
I would say my zero-waste journey started when I began scuba diving several years ago. That was when I really started becoming aware of the waste that is all around us. Every time I dive, I find some sort of trash, and it’s really devastating to see this trash that someone threw away on land that has now made its way all the way to our ocean. So I started becoming obsessive over always having my own water bottle and shopping bags, and I’d say that’s how I started. I then stumbled across an article or something about Lauren Singer from Trash is for Tossers, and started following her and getting ideas from her. I have more trash than will fit in a mason jar, but I am constantly aware of my choices, and doing the best I can on my own personal never-ending zero-waste journey.


What’s your #1 waste reduction tip for beginners?
I think the easiest way for beginners to start is the same way I started – with a reusable water bottle and shopping bags, and go from there. There are so many blogs, Instagram accounts, Facebook groups, etc. with a TON of information that can help any beginner.

What inspired you to stock reusable menstrual products in your shop?
I was inspired to stock reusable menstrual products in my store because during my journey, I came across a post about them, and had never really thought about it before. It really got me thinking about how much waste is created by women every month! I switched to a menstrual cup right away, and can’t believe I used tampons for so long before discovering it!! I love to tell girls/women who come into my shop how great the reusable products are, and that they’re really not “that gross!”

Do you have any suggestions for gift-giving? I feel like that can be a tricky one when someone’s zero-waste practices haven’t extended outside of their everyday life yet.
I think zero-waste gift giving can be pretty easy! My go-to is always something practical and/or handmade. I think that handmade gifts are the most meaningful, and often just happen to be zero-waste. If you’re not artistic or crafty, think of something practical that will be used by the recipient for years and years. An example of this could be a bamboo cutting board, a nice set of glass or stainless steel tupperware, etc. A nice stainless steel food container (I love Life Without Plastic!), a set of bamboo utensils, and a reusable stainless steel or bamboo straw makes a great gift package and can be used almost daily. Another idea is to give someone an experience – tickets to a play or a concert. Finally, think about how you wrap your gift. I have a stash of old newspapers and brown paper in my house that I use to wrap gifts. Tie them together with twine, or use paper tape to avoid plastic tape.

Thank you for sharing your story and zero-waste wisdom with us, Allie!

If you live near Harrisonburg or happen to visit, check out the store and say hi to Allie for us! You can also attend events and workshops, shop Bring Your Own online, and stay up to date on Facebook and Instagram.