31 May 2022
Cary, N.C. — When you walk into the Mindful Merchant, you feel an immediate sense of relaxation. The earthy tones, natural materials and the fresh scents from the refill bar all usher you in. It’s a stress-free approach to “zero waste living” that Jacqueline and Dillon Tucker incorporate into their daily life and store.
These days, it seems you can’t make an impact unless you go to the extreme. Want to help the earth? Sell all of your things. Move into a tiny home. Only eat what you can grow. Never use a single piece of plastic anything. Ever.
It’s these extreme expectations that keep many people from making any changes at all. That’s what Jacqueline and Dillon Tucker want to change.
“Small choices matter and even a single plastic bag, package, or bottle kept out of circulation makes a difference,” explained Jacqueline.
She and her husband (and one-year-old son) recently moved back to North Carolina to be closer to family. The timing was a perfect fit to open their eco-friendly store in Cary mid-March. It’s located in the Lochmere Pavillion off Kildaire Farm Road.
Inside, you’ll find soaps, kitchen supplies, beauty products, decor made from recycled materials and lots of products made from bamboo (a much more eco-friendly alternative to paper products from trees). There is a refill station to purchase liquid soaps, detergents, shampoo and more by the ounce. You’ll also find that most products come with little or no packaging.
The Tuckers believe that together, we can all make small changes that add up over time. They hope their store will inspire other families to find new ways to reduce waste. Here are a few more highlights from our conversation.
Q: What first inspired you (or was a driving force) of living a more “zero waste” lifestyle?
Dillon: Being responsible for my choices and habits was just something my parents taught me from a young age. My dad in particular always encouraged minimalism, picking up litter and having respect and appreciation for our community and environment. We’re far from living a zero waste lifestyle, but we always just try to be mindful about our decisions.
Jacqueline: For me it was probably single-use plastic bags. Bringing a reusable bag to the grocery store was an easy first step to being more aware. Also, we frequented a low-waste store in the previous city we lived in which really introduced us to many more sustainable items that you use everyday.
Q: What has surprised you so far in developing and opening your own business?
A: The support from our community, other low-waste businesses, and organizations like Toward Zero Waste Cary has been amazing. That wasn’t necessarily a surprise, but the level of response was even greater than we expected. You can’t ever be sure how things will go when you open your doors, but we truly feel we couldn’t have picked a better spot for this.
Q: What can people expect when they come in?
A: We hope people find a welcoming atmosphere where no matter your lifestyle, you will find something that you’ll love here. We want people to know this is a shop for everyone! We’ve put a lot of time into selecting what goes in our store also – it’s not easy to find partners and products that meet our standards. Thankfully there are a lot of great partners here in North Carolina that share our values!
Q: What advice do you have for busy families on how they can get started reducing waste?
A: We are a busy family ourselves so we understand. Being low-waste can also be low effort! Simply bring your own reusable bags when shopping and always look for products that have less plastic packaging. Switching to laundry detergent sheets, solid dish soap bars, or plastic-free dishwasher tablets are also great ways to both save a little time and reduce waste. Just pick one thing that fits your lifestyle and grow at whatever pace feels natural.
Q: What do you hope your son learns from you and this venture?
Dillon: I hope he learns to do what he loves!
Jaqueline: I hope he learns the importance of being mindful with everyday choices. Small decisions can have a big impact on the world.
Tara Lynn is a former WRAL reporter and anchor. She lends her 15-plus years in journalism to tell visual stories through love-filled photography for families of all kinds. The mother of three little humans and one senior rescue dog believes in celebrating magic in the little things, the big loves, and the imperfect moments that make the most remarkable memories. Her vision is to help families celebrate and share their love through photography and curated album artwork that become timeless keepsakes connecting multiple generations…because moments often pass in the blink of an eye, and the photographs we take connect us to our memories and our great loves, forever.