Let's talk transparency and feedback as a small business.

A Drop in the Ocean Blog: Why Small Businesses Should Always be Held Accountable
Listen to the audio of this post here:

This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on September 19, 2022.

Hey friend! It's been a couple of weeks! I'm definitely still catching up from being out of the office for two weeks, but progress is being made and your pending orders from this month are finally on their way to you!

While I was pondering what I wanted to share with you this week, I was struck by the realization that I shared a pretty important post on Instagram a few months back but never shared it here, with you. And that's just not cool of me.

So today I'm sharing with you a really important lesson I learned as a small business owner on a mission to do things differently - and how that impacts you, my EcoWarrior.

So back in May, I received the following email through the contact form on our website:

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop customer email
Reading this email through an objective lens, it's a perfectly reasonable, non-judgmental question.

But as a small business owner, your business is your baby.

You've built this thing from the ground up. You've bootstrapped your website, your branding, your messaging. You've carefully chosen every single product that comes into your shop.

So when someone questions why things are done a certain way, it can be so easy to take that personally, and feel the need to defend your baby.

And when I received this email, that's exactly how I felt.

"I'm doing my best! Don't they see how carefully curated our products are?? Look at how many products are unpackaged! Is my best not good enough for them?"

My gut reaction was to calculate how many of our products are totally package-free, how many of our products are made locally, how many of our products are made by women, and how many of our products have a give-back program associated with them.

Didn't this person know how much blood, sweat, and tears have gone into this thing? How much love and pride I've infused into every single product on our shelves?

But then I realized... No.

This person doesn't know me.

They don't know I'm doing my best. They don't know the details of running a small business. They don't know all the ins and outs of this little shop like I do.

Of course they don't know.

Because unless they went on a DEEP dive of every single blog post and every single FAQ and every single Instagram post, how could they?

And let's be real, friend, literally none of that matters in this moment anyway.

This person is asking about one particular product they are interested in, and doing exactly what any EcoWarrior should do, and what I'm always advocating for.

Asking questions.
Fighting the status quo.

They're asking why something is done the way it is, if it has to be that way, and if it can be done better.

We need so much more of this.

So I reached out to our vendor and asked if it was possible for us to get the toothpaste tubes without a cardboard box.

The answer was, unfortunately, no, because there are systems in place to make the fulfillment process as streamlined as possible.

But without asking the question, how would we know?

And let's remember that zero waste is about so much more than trash. It's also about wasted time, wasted energy, wasted money, wasted resources.

So instead of reacting in my defensive state, I paused. I listened. I reflected.

And while the outcome was not what this person was hoping for, I shared this response with them, and offered them a 100% zero waste toothpaste solution that we do offer.

I also took this opportunity to share some highlights of what makes our product line so incredible - including that 69% of our products are completely package-free or in returnable packaging.

We are all operating in imperfect and broken systems.

At A Drop in the Ocean, I'm doing my absolute best to provide you with the most sustainable products on the market today. And I am forever learning how to be better.

It doesn't matter how small the business. Hold us accountable. Ask us questions.

And if you're a small business owner too - remember this. We need to listen. And we need to listen to understand, not listen to respond.

Because if we're gonna be out here crushing the status quo, we need our people pushing us and cheering us on to go even further.

So thank you to this person for not being afraid to ask, "Why is this being done the way it is?" Thank you for holding me accountable and rethinking the way things are.

I appreciate you.


The zero waste community isn't immune to greenwashing.

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