5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About A Drop in the Ocean

5 Things You Didn't Know About A Drop in the Ocean Zero Waste Store
Listen to the audio of this post here:

This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on February 26, 2024.

Soooo yesterday was a big day around here…

Yesterday - February 25, 2024 - was A Drop in the Ocean’s ~5 year~ anniversary 🥳

Krystina's Facebook Memory marking when A Drop in the Ocean Shop went live on February 25, 2019

👆 Yes, I really did manually press “publish” at 1:46 in the morning on a Monday. My goal was midnight, but I was still trying to get all my product photos done after bartending all weekend. And, again, yes, I really was taking product photos ~at midnight~ in an attic bedroom. Those first product photos were a sight to behold 🙈

Sometimes I can’t believe it’s already been 5 years. So much has changed since A Drop in the Ocean began. 

The zero waste lifestyle is completely different than it was then. 

The world is completely different than it was then. 

And yet, A Drop in the Ocean is still here. Still going strong. Still moving forward with zero plans to slow down.

So in honor of this milestone, today we’re sharing 5 things you probably didn’t know about A Drop in the Ocean 😊

(P.S. I totally borrowed this idea from the awesome people over at Plaine Products, who just celebrated their 7-year anniversary two weeks ago. Congrats to Plaine for their milestone!)

‘A Drop in the Ocean’ was the first and only name on my brainstorm list.

I wish I still had the paper, but I can distinctly remember sitting in bed back in 2018 with a notebook and pen and “Name Ideas” neatly written across the top of the page with just one bullet point underneath: A Drop in the Ocean.

I couldn’t tell you why that was the first idea that popped into my head as a potential business name, but once it did, I couldn’t get it out of my head.

I loved the idea of the name having such a strong message behind it.

Simultaneously recognizing that what we’re doing is important and powerful, but that we can’t do it alone in a vacuum.

Basically saying, “Yeah, I know my reusable straws won’t change the planet on their own, but they’re a place to start and the more of us that just start, the bigger an impact we can have together.”

But I’ll let you in on a secret…

I was really hesitant to accept the name A Drop in the Ocean.

After staring at the mostly blank page for what felt like an eternity, I asked my friend Chelsea for her opinion.

Was the connotation too negative?
Would people get it?
Does it even make sense?

Turns out, she loved the name. She thought it made perfect sense for the business and the message I was trying to get across.

And she wasn’t alone in that opinion.

Over the last 5 years I’ve had so many EcoWarriors tell me how much they love the name, and I’m still so in love with it, too.

We’re so much more than just a refill store, and I think our name perfectly reflects that.

A Drop in the Ocean became an EnviroStars certified business in 2023Bonus Fun Fact #1: In 2023, A Drop in the Ocean became an EnviroStars certified business!

The first draft vision for A Drop in the Ocean was a subscription-only model.

The idea seems so wild now and I can’t help but laugh but I’m actually serious lol

My first vision for what A Drop in the Ocean would be was a subscription box model, where you’d pay a flat subscription fee and every month I’d send you a different zero waste swap.

Would you get to choose the swap? Nope.
Would you get to know what the swap was ahead of time? Nope.
Would you get to change how often you’d get new swaps? Nope.

Luckily, I realized pretty darn quickly that that model was, in fact, not zero waste 😅

So, yeah, that idea was scrapped very early on. 

You're welcome 🤣

A Drop in the Ocean is Tacoma’s first zero waste store.

In December 2018, I left a full-time conservation job at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio, broke my apartment lease 6 months early, loaded all of my stuff into a U-Haul and drove across the country to live in a friend’s attic in Tacoma, Washington to start A Drop in the Ocean.

At the time, there were only a handful of zero waste stores scattered across the country, with two in Seattle that had just opened two months prior and none in Tacoma.

A Drop in the Ocean officially became Tacoma's first zero waste store in February 2019.

Our first in-person event was the South Sound Sustainability Expo in March 2019, and then we started hosting monthly pop-ups at Locust Cider in Tacoma, joined a few local markets, and by summer 2019 I was lugging every piece of inventory we had to 8-12 different markets, pop-ups, and events every month.

A whole lot has changed since that absolutely insane summer, but it was all so exciting to be building up the zero waste community and meeting so many wonderful people all over this city I chose to call home.

A Drop in the Ocean Shop named Most Innovative Business by South Sound Business MagazineBonus Fun Fact #2: In December 2019, A Drop in the Ocean was named Most Innovative Business by South Sound Business Magazine.

We’ve never purchased packing materials.

Yes, really.

In the last 5 years we’ve been in business, we’ve fulfilled over 7,000 online orders, and we’ve never once purchased packing materials.

Every single piece of packing paper and every single packing peanut has been reused.

Whether they were collected from our community or came to us in an inventory shipment, we’ve never once had to purchase new packing materials for your orders.

AND, in that same time, we’ve only purchased 175 kraft shipping envelopes and 255 boxes - all of which were made with 100% recycled content right here in the United States.

✨ 7,000+ orders, but just 430 new shipping boxes and envelopes and 0 new packing materials. ✨

Since the beginning, we’ve been dedicated to reusing as much as possible, and thanks to the amazing community around us, we’ve been able to truly do just that 😎

Cardboard note: "The peanuts are reused and water-soluble :)" "I never doubted it!"

Make Waves Mondays - our signature weekly email series - was the result of my final project for my Master’s degree.

In the fall of 2019, I was in the final semester of my conservation biology Master’s program, and our final big project was an Inquiry Action Project.

Basically, we had to conduct a study (an inquiry) and use the results of that study to create an action plan for how we would address the findings.

My focus throughout the program was how to engage the public in personal conservation actions and sustainability, so for this final project I wanted to…

  1. study the different barriers people face when it comes to taking eco-action, 
  2. find out if those barriers are real or perceived, and 
  3. create a plan for how to address the perceived barriers to inspire action.

I won’t bore you with the entire study (if you want to read it, here’s a link!), but that “plan for how to address the perceived barriers to inspire action” ended up being an outline for the first several months of Make Waves Mondays back in 2020, broken down into 5 categories of waste; food; home and personal care; travel, energy, and advocacy; and lifestyle - with all of the barriers that were addressed in the study and potential solutions to overcome them.

Truthfully, those first few months were rough, as I was trying to transition from writing scientific papers and find my own voice rather than the scientific voice I was used to…and I’m super grateful for all of the EcoWarriors who stuck by me as I figured it all out 😂

And now here we are, four years and 158(!!!) Make Waves Mondays later.

I can’t believe I’ve written 158 of these, and that some of our EcoWarriors have been around for every single dang one of them… this community is just incredible.

Bonus Fun Fact #3: The A Drop in the Ocean website was also the result of one of my Master’s projects. I’m so glad that I was able to use my Master’s program to help me build ADITO from the ground-up and back it all up with scientific research.

The first version of A Drop in the Ocean's website homepage: a photo of Mount Rainier👆 The very first version of A Drop in the Ocean’s website homepage. The photo was taken at Mount Rainier during my very first visit to Tacoma.

The last five years of A Drop in the Ocean have been a hell of a ride. 

I’ve learned so much more than I ever imagined.
I’ve met some of the most amazing people.
I’ve had to adapt, change, and shift directions.
I’ve had to make tough decisions.

But there is genuinely not a single thing on the planet that I’d rather be doing.

I cannot wait to see what the next five years hold for A Drop in the Ocean and I’m so grateful for your support in these last five years. We’re building something that’s never been done before, and I think you’re really dang cool for being a part of it 😍

So now it’s your turn… What’s been your favorite part of A Drop in the Ocean over the last five years (or however long it’s been since you joined our community!)? Comment below and let me know! 👇


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How zero waste is A Drop in the Ocean, really?
Year-End Report 2023

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