Marilla’s Mindful Supplies occupies a cozy storefront at 438 Exchange St. in Geneva. It’s baby blue sign with playful cursive lettering invites locals and out-of-towners alike to enjoy a plastic-free shopping experience. The shop’s glass window features a message that encapsulates its mission: “Fill Jars / Not Landfills,” it reads.
Owner Marilla Lipker has overcome quite a few challenges since launching the business in 2019, like a total rebrand when a California-based company threatened a lawsuit over the shop’s original name, The Waste-Not Shop, or closures due to COVID-19 and last summer’s downtown construction activity. But with cases down, streets paved, and the region’s tourist season just around the corner, Lipker is hopeful for a bright 2022.
Peak inside the shop
When you shop at Marilla’s Mindful Supplies, one thing is essential: a refillable container. You’ll need it to take home some of the shop’s many bulk products. As you enter, to your right you’ll find the herbs and spices. Not in the usual palm-sized single-use plastic containers, but in impressive row of giant, glass dispensers.
“We start with your plastic free pantry here. Things like your typical basil, oregano, baking spices, and then grains, quinoa, popcorn, beans, chickpeas, rice, and coffees. Two of our coffee roasts are roasted in house by a little coffee company that we share the space with,” explains Lipker.
On the far side of the space, you’ll find bulk household supplies: all-purpose cleaner, hand soap, toilet cleaning tablets, dryer balls, and more. When you run out, simply bring your container back in to refill.
“If there is plastic on a shelf in our shop, it’s because it’s from a company that works with plant-based plastics or they’re closed loop,” says Lipker, meaning the containers can be sent back to the company to recycle.
The left wall of the store features personal care products like deodorant, castile soap, plastic-free makeup, shampoo bars, and lotion bars- alternatives to daily essentials that, added up, typically create a lot of plastic waste. The center display case houses items like sustainable to-go cups, lunch tiffins, bamboo silverware, beeswax baggies, and the like. Lipker has truly thought of it all- there are even some delightful compostable phone cases available for purchase.
The idea for a low-to-zero-waste shop in the Finger Lakes region is unique. There are a handful of businesses with a similar model downstate, but nothing close by.
“My husband and I started toying with the idea of a shop where the majority of the products are completely plastic free, or if they are in plastic, they’re refillable, or returnable to us,” explains Lipker. “We started with bathroom products, challenging ourselves to say, ‘Okay, well does this switch, and does this swap work?’ Little by little, we found more and more products.”
A look towards the future
Lipker does the research to find truly sustainable products so you can feel confident knowing the ripple effect of each purchase is a positive one. What’s more, Marilla’s Mindful Supplies also provides delivery service for Geneva residents and pickups throughout the week. You can head to the shop’s website to browse products or shop online.
Keep an eye out on social media for upcoming events hosted at the shop. Lipker plans to resume a schedule of monthly sustainability talks and workshops starting in April, including a “plant share event” where people can hangout and repot or exchange plants.
“We have high hopes not just for us, but for the whole downtown of Geneva that it can be a really good summer,” says Lipker. “We’re excited to get back into including the community. We do our best online, but it’s been hard to host those kinds of things for people to learn and grow together when we haven’t been safely allowed to be inside. That part of the community building is on the horizon and it’s going to be fun.”