Save the Bees Sola Boutique opened in Milford
Updated: Aug 12
By Katie Collins
Follow Katie @Lifestyles51
MILFORD - A zero waste, eco-friendly general store opened its doors in Milford a few months ago. Located in the Lumberyard shops complex, Save the Bees Sola Boutique is set on helping people learn about improving the environment with all natural products. Through her shop, Ashley Carter hopes to show consumers that the earth is able to provide countless natural products that can be used in their everyday lives. Each of the objects found in her store, is comparable to items available in the outlet stores, but are made with natural products. Because of her concern for the environment, Carter said there is so much people can do, to “make a substantial difference,” by using zero waste, organic items. Zero Waste is essential because it reduces the usage of anything meant for a one time use.
A paralegal, Carter who is 37 said the hardest transition she experienced when becoming accustomed to the concept of zero waste and all natural, was moving past the idea of convenience. She explained that shopping at outlet stores offers numerous accessible items, rather than things that require a little more effort. If people work to conserve, there are many natural products created by “this beautiful earth” that are available but it's a “matter of being interested.” Carter said it was insight to environmental causes that changed her mindset as she learned more about issues and came to understand the options that are available.
Through research, Carter finds the things she sells because just about everything can be made from zero waste she said. Living a zero waste lifestyle is easy, it's just a transition of the products. Growing up, Carter used the Ivory soap bar and moving past that was her greatest challenge because “change is hard.” Now, she uses a dishwashing block that is “unique” because it altered the way in which she washes the dishes. She said the reality is, it's just about “breaking habits.”
A true general store
As a general store, each shelf is designated for “its own purpose,” with the middle shelf for personal care products or another for cleaning items such as eco-friendly sponges made of a coconut mixture or a biodegradable dishing block that’ll last months rather than the common plastic bottles Carter explained.
As of now, Carter’s foods are loose leaf teas and certified bulk spices; she plans on selling bulk pantry “staples,” such as pasta, rice, lentil, flowers and more, she said. For the bulk items, there will be bins, so customers will weigh their container, fill it and weigh it again so they are reusing the same container.
Most products are from small, local “makers” who are “within our community,” Carter said. She too, makes items that include lotions made from coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter and lavender. She is open to seeing what people have to offer because it’s about zero waste, minimizing single use plastics and utilizing what is naturally available in the United States or Canada she said. Carter believes that if she, “as your regular everyday person” can make lotions, anyone can.
The difference between the items found in her store, Carter said is that she knows the ingredients to just about everything because it’s about “keeping it simple” with all natural ingredients. While pharmacies are necessary, Carter has found people can take care of themselves in some instances, such as a time where she used chamomile flowers, epsom salt and lavender that helped minimize the swelling of a spider bite.
Carter said she has faith in what she sells because she knows how the products affect the human body; such as natural deodorants because the body is filled with toxins she said, so its questionable for some if a natural deodorant will work since people detoxify when they sweat. That then means, those natural deodorants will not work, but there are natural products that will, such as a bentonite clay from volcanic ash from Wyoming. The charcoal she explained, detoxifies the underarm.
Although she doesn’t know everything, Carter said if she’s able to adapt to this lifestyle, anyone can because it's as simple as buying a toothbrush made of bamboo with bristles made of nylon that is biodegradable since that is a step in reducing products that add to the millions of tons of toothbrushes put in landfills every year.
The all natural ingredients are vast, with bamboo being used to make everything from toilet paper, gardening tools to q-tips because it continuously grows, whereas a tree takes years. Plus, Carter said bamboo is “super sustainable and strong.”
Carter acknowledged that her prices differ from outlet stores, but she offers items in a “high concentration commercial grade,” so she tries to “balance” the cost from the products. Plus, the zero waste, natural concept is “supposed to be someone’s way of life” so it “shouldn't be a matter of what you can afford, it should be a matter of what you want.”
As of now, Carter is considering a “compost pickup service” where customers will have five gallon buckets to discard vegetable scraps, cardboard and newspapers that she will pick up and compost the items into all natural organic pesticide free fertilizer.
A family business
Proud of her store, Carter said three generations of her family helped build Save the Bees Sola Boutique with her dad offering guidance, along with other family members who used wooden pallets, paint and flowers she made. With her daughter by her side as she spoke with Lifestyles, Carter said, everybody's got the “store’s interest at heart.”
Knowing the customers
For Carter, her business is “about community” and not a “one time shopping experience” because she wants customers to return to her store so she gets to know them and is aware of what local consumers’ needs are, because it’s about “taking care of one another, taking care of our environment” she said. Aware that taking on such an issue won’t be easy, Carter said the small changes will help because, “We're just going to have a healthier life, a healthier earth, a healthier planet for generations to come.”
For more information about Save the Bees Sola Boutique visit https://www.savethebeessola.com/?fbclid=IwAR29qVEWS3i25Cm1PK7PQLhD_QwJK_2izeSKqMncaLFcg5Zwyb79UAPw8s0#/.