Toasted Earth

KnoxFill: Michaela Barnett

July 21, 2021 Michelle Cunningham Season 1 Episode 8
Toasted Earth
KnoxFill: Michaela Barnett
Show Notes Transcript

This episode features Michaela Barnett, the founder of KnoxFill. KnoxFill is a zero waste refillery serving the Knoxville, Tennessee area. Their online store of household and personal care items are sourced locally and delivered in reusable, refillable containers so you get the products you need without the wasteful packaging.

Michaela began to focus on waste solutions from an early age leading her to study sustainability and behavioral science. She's applied her scientific background and her knowledge of the world from years of travel to building KnoxFill.

Relevant Links:
https://knoxfill.com


Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/toastedearth)

Michelle Cunningham:

Hello and welcome to the Toasted Earth podcast a show about founders, visionaries, and environmentalists pursuing novel ideas and sustainability to ultimately save the earth. I'm your host, Michelle Cunningham, and for today's episode we have Michaela Barnett, the founder of KnoxFill, KnoxFill is a zero waste refillery serving the Knoxville, Tennessee area. Their online store of household and personal care items are sourced locally and delivered in reusable refillable containers,so you get the products you need without the wasteful packaging. Michaela has been, and this is a direct quote from her website, obsessed with trash her whole life, which after speaking with her turns out to be quite true. She began to focus on this problem from an early age leading her to study sustainability in behavioral science and eventually create a business around it, KnoxFill.

Michaela Barnett:

I was the kid in high school who was distressed after the fun picnic days, because we would get box lunches brought in from companies and there would just be trash all over the yard that people would not be sorting, right? They just be putting it into trash bags. So I was the 16 year old right after you know lunch fever surely going through the waste and trying to sort it and all my teachers are like, what do you what are you doing? Go go hang out with the other youth what's happening, Michaela, um, but you know, I think it's I grew up on a hobby farm in Central Ohio, with a mom who is similarly trash obsessed, it led her down a pretty different path. But when I was a kid, you know, we would go dumpster diving, we would go on trash day to see if any neighbors had anything good out, you know, on the end of their driveway that we could pick up. And when I you know, my sisters went off to college, we would go dumpster diving for food with them. But I think where a lot of this came from really happened when my family moved from, you know, rural central Ohio to the suburbs of Houston, Texas. My dad worked for basically his whole career in the energy industry. So he was kind of a fossil fuel executive. I'm not sustainability scientists so we can get into the backstory there. But we moved from a pretty low a sustainable lifestyle on a 15 acre hobby farm in Ohio, to the really affluent suburbs of Houston, Texas, where I think just the scale of waste and the inherent unsustainability was so shocking that it really woke me up. And that's what led me to be the kind of anxious 16 year old feverish, really sorting through trash after picnic days, and trying to implement recycling programs anywhere I could, because instead of you know, the community I'd grown up in where of course trash was generated. It wasn't quite as present and quite as opulent. I'd say the lavishness of the lifestyles in Texas. Were were kind of just so shocking, but it demanded a response within me.

Michelle Cunningham:

So what did you do from there?

Michaela Barnett:

So I went to undergrad at a liberal arts college in South Carolina, I tried to get out of Texas pretty fast. It wasn't my place, Texas is wonderful for your listeners that are that are in Texas. Um, but it just wasn't quite for me. And I went and I studied sustainability science at Furman University. And when I started there, the sustainability science degree was in its second year, it was the first institution to have sustainability science as an undergraduate degree program. And that's when, you know, this little like, passion and fervor and anxiety for sustainability was really nurtured and nourished among a community of like minded people and professors who really encouraged me to look at this from a systems perspective. And then because I wanted to do the study abroad in Spain, because that was the desirable one, I signed up as a dual Spanish major. So I got to I got to go to Spain. And that ignited a secondary passion and has enabled a lot of the subsequent travels that I've done in Latin America and in other parts of the world, where you also just come face to face with all the problems of our overconsumption and poor waste management of the resources we're consuming.

Michelle Cunningham:

That's interesting. I would imagine some of the the poorer countries maybe don't consume as much as we do, because here, we're just kind of like buy, buy, buy everything. So what problems were you seeing?

Michaela Barnett:

They don't, but you see the impacts of our consumption. So you can be at a, you know, turtle preserve in Costa Rica, and you're having to do trash pickups on the beach, because the oceans are so full of waste, and you are trying to clean this up. So it's not getting into the habitats, or in places where the waste management system isn't quite as developed, you see a lot more more litter, it's much more visible. You know, in the US, I sometimes think we we don't think as much about trash and waste, because it's literally thrown away. It's not failure, it's not in our homes, it's not always on the roads. And in the public spaces, it's really not doesn't feel like it's our problem, because it's away from us. Whereas in developing countries, it's not a problem that goes away, you know, waste is, is often burned, which has terrible health impacts for the families. And prior to 2018, a large portion of our recyclables were being shipped to Southeast Asia to be processed. So you know, our waste is showing up around the rest of the world. So it it becomes much more visible when when you spend time outside of the states.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, that's, that's so interesting. How did that affect you?

Michaela Barnett:

Yeah, so this is like a crazy, weird context. Because my job after college, I worked as an international trip leader, for very fluent kids, taking them on trips around the world. And then I would travel in between. So I was kind of trying to instill this similar consciousness and awakening in the in the kids that I was leading on these trips, and really try and get them away from this American centricity of the world to see these other things. So it was really much more of a teaching opportunity. But really, it just continued to instill in me the drive to fix to fix this problem. So when I came back from living abroad, as I shared with you earlier, I made a list of five cities in the southeast, I circled Knoxville moved here, moved out of my backpack, and had plans to write a novel, get a part time job. And then I got here and I was like, oh, man, we got to do something about the waste infrastructure in the city. Half the apartments don't have recycling, you know, this is what is what is going on here. that would that would be to come later. But pretty soon after I got here, it became clear that, you know, my sustainability purpose and this next stage of life was going to be focused on waste.

Michelle Cunningham:

But you could have focused on like the, how do you process the waste after it's actually been produced. But then with KnoxFill, you're actually ocusing on the root of the roblem, like stopping it before he waste is created, what made ou decide to go that route ersus the other?

Michaela Barnett:

So I'm currently getting my PhD from the University of Virginia, and behavioral science. I'm in a program called the convergent Behavioral Science Initiative. It's interdisciplinary between the School of Business and the School of Engineering, the Department of engineering. And, you know, when I came into grad school a few years ago, I had just left a year long AmeriCorps position within UT Recycling's at the University of Tennessee within their recycling program. And I just wanted to keep studying waste at the end, right, I was still like stuck on how do we get people to sort their waste better? How do we get recycling to happen better? And oh, my gosh, you know, why? Why aren't we better at this as humans? Like, why don't we care more to take the time. And then I realized that I had maybe Lost my way a little bit with my systems thinking training, but I'd learned in undergrad because waste really is a systems problem. And I think that this bias is kind of been instilled within us to think about waste only at the point of disposal and to think about recycling as the most sustainable waste option. And this, this has not been by accident, right? We know that the tactics of the fossil fuel industry, the beverage companies have been trying to push individual responsibility and recycling is the solution since the 70s, through a variety of different tactics. So this is a kind of bias that we all have and this is something that I I researched in my doctoral work, and I fell prey to it too, I just was thinking about waste at the point of disposal, until I really took a step back and thought, you know, this, this is a system waste happens at the point at which we produce a good, designed to be thrown away. And every other part along the supply chain, from extraction to production, transportation, only focusing on waste as a systems output is really convenient for businesses whose dominant interest is getting us to consume as much as possible, makes it a lot easier, right if we just focus on things at that point. But the point at which we're actually going to solve this problem is way earlier on. And I'll just say one more thing, to how I got to that is, I really digging into our recycling system and realizing how oversold that has been, you know, I kind of grew up feeling and learning and thinking that recycling was the most sustainable way to manage our waste. But it was kind of this panacea. But when we look at materials that are starting to dominate more and more the waste stream, like plastics, and single use plastics, yeah, these are things for which recycling doesn't really work in the sense that we can recycle them. But it's really acts as a deferral to the landfill, the incinerator or the environment. It doesn't take it out of the waste stream completely. You can take a pet water bottle, recycle it into, you know, polyester t shirt, but then what happens at the end of the life of that T shirt? It's going to go into a landfill, it can't be composted. It's not going to biodegrade. So for a lot of these things, recycling just acts as as a temporary deferral not as a permanent solution for a circular economy.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, and with plastic in particular, there are a lot of plastics, we think we're recycling and they're just like, never even being recycled, right. In my case, plastic bags was one of those that I later learned, I thought I was recycling and they were just going to landfill.

Michaela Barnett:

Well, it depends on where you put the plastic bags, so if you put them into your curbside, they do gum up the sorting machinery at most Smurfs, which Murph is a material Recovery Facility, where most of our residential waste goes to to be sorted out. So plastic bag and plastic film within curbside is like a huge No, no, because it doesn't gums up the works. Now, if you take your plastic bags to like a supermarket, where they have the plastic bag recycling out front, and it's specific, that actually kind of goes into a reverse supply chain management and gets in with all of their higher quality plastic film that's been wrapped around their shipments. And a lot of that actually does get recycled. The number one market for that in the United States is plastic decking over here on the east coast. So plastic bags and plastic film, if they go into the right system, and the right kind of sorting process can be recycled into this really durable decking that will last 20 to 40 years. So that can be a great alternative. But then we beg the question again, okay, then what do we do after those 20 and 40 years, we've got all these plastic particles in the in the decking. But Michelle, it's it's crazy that our recycling system is as complicated as it is. No one other than a recycling researcher has the time to figure out where all of these menu Shea of materials goes. When ever new products are being produced all the time. It's such a constant rate that we can't keep up. And markets are changing our recycling systems not standardized across the whole country. And so we've created this system that relies on individuals to sort their waste perfectly in order for the system to work. Let me tell you, as a behavioral scientist, that's never gonna work. You know what people can do their best. But if we don't have a way to standardize the products that are being made, and the end recycling system, I just don't really see a way in which individual onus for recycling and sorting waste becomes the sustainable waste management solution.

Michelle Cunningham:

I agree. I think it's like really hard for an individual to be expected to, to learn how their particular recycling system works, because, yeah, like he said, they're not standardized. So they're very different based on where you are. And then even even then, like, I've looked up how our recycling system at my house works, what they can take, even then I'm not always sure, like it's just not always obvious. If this one particular item actually meets the requirements of what they're saying, and I would hate to be the one to like, mess up their machinery or like contaminate a bunch of stuff, this is really hard. And I think it's great that you're focusing on the root of the problem. How does KnoxFill ork? How are you actually doing t?

Michaela Barnett:

Yeah, so, you know, I'm providing a solution to this problem at a hyper local level. And I'll say like, I see this as a very small part to an overall solution, which the big solution I think is going to come from policy regulation and the really large brands that are responsible for most of our plastic pollution transferring their business models, but I digress. KnoxFill, um, you now, works like like the ilkman used to work. It's not a articularly innovative business odel. I say this only because I opied other resellers that are ropping up around the country. nd we fill up reusable, efillable containers with ousehold goods, like all urpose cleaner, shampoo, otion, toilet cleaner, vinegar, ind of anything you need, that ypically would come in ackaging designed to be thrown way, we put that in glass ontainers give it to you when t's full, and you swap it out or a full one, once it's empty. urrently, we have local elivery and local pickup. And 've just been blown away by the ommunity's response, people eally want an alternative. And his business is helping people ive in line with their values hile opting out of our dominant inear economy. And it's eautiful.

Michelle Cunningham:

That was one of the things I was wondering, are people looking for it? Like, are they finding you? And then you're educating them? And like, Oh, this is a thing and like, this is an option for you? Are they like actually looking for

Michaela Barnett:

both? And I think like, you know, we have people who are saying, you know, I have been Zero Waste or approaching zero waste for a while. And I've had to, you know, buy everything online and get it shipped in. And this isn't super sustainable. Oh, my gosh, thank you so much. Knoxville has needed one of these forever. And now you're here and Oh, so much easier. And then I have some people who are saying, hey, I've never really thought about this before. And I'm transitioning one small part of my house at a time I just transitioned away from plastic cancer to your handsoap. And let me tell you, I am celebrating each of those changes. Because I think that is the way we make good progress on this. If we are relying on individual change, which is our current model set up, then let's celebrate those small victories and encourage people and say like, yes, that is one less plastic bottle that had to be produced, filled, shipped, and then thrown away. That's wonderful. And if you're completely zero waste, that's wonderful. And I'm here to make it as easy for you as possible with the best quality, sustainable and whenever possible, locally made goods. And I'm also here to celebrate your small wins and your big ones.

Michelle Cunningham:

Totally. Yeah, I mean, like each person transitioning is one additional dent in the problem. And I think for us to really make a huge difference. Like we all have to start doing little things here and there to try and live in line I guess without how nature is supposed to to work. Like we're not supposed to be producing all these plastics that never degradable, degrade in like 1000 years or something super long. Yeah. Okay. I have a bunch of questions that came out of that. You mentioned there are other refill theories around the country that are popping up, and that you're hyper local? It seems like that's pretty common with refineries. Why is that? Why do you need to be hyper local?

Michaela Barnett:

I don't know if you have to be I think, you know, there are resellers that ship and they use flexible bladders that people can return to them. And there's there's a lot of models, honestly, I really wanted to invest in my local community and provide this as a solution for my community. And I think that is where beauty of the local movement lies is that I'm sourcing from people who live down the road from me in some cases who are then becoming friends and then we're working on this problem together. And also when we like think about this systems perspective once more, we need to transition away from a model in which we are shipping everything we need from anywhere. It is because we have to be thinking about about transportation emissions, we have to be thinking about waste along the supply chain. And so, you know, for me, and I can't speak for other resellers, but it really came out of a desire to be driven by my community's needs, and be serving my community and also help makers in my community tap into this market.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah. How are you picking the suppliers?

Michaela Barnett:

So we have a form on the website that asks people a series of questions about their values and practices when it comes to sustainability and equity. And also whether or not their supply chain is as low waste as possible. So most people who come to us go through the form, and some people, you know, we have met and kind of organic ways. And then we've had long phone conversations to see if we're a good match, and if their products are a good match for KnoxFill. And that has been mazing because I can actually earn from them and learn about heir constraints and why hey're choosing the ingredients hey're choosing, and the uppliers they're choosing. And hen make sure that we're icking the best possible option n terms of quality, ustainability, and equity. Most f my suppliers are family on usinesses, the majority are omen owned businesses, which 'm so excited to be able to eally invest in those as a oman owned business. Yeah. And hen you know, we're doing the est we can, I'm trying to ource locally whenever ossible. But in order for these oods to be affordable, and to e a viable alternative, I do eed to buy them in large enough uantities so that the the bulk ricing math works out for my ustomers. And I and I don't ave a hyper local supplier for ome of my liquid containers, ome of my liquid goods yet. But n the future, I'm hoping to be ble to invest in some of those upply chains within my ommunities so that we can start roducing the quantity and uality of goods we need, right ere.

Michelle Cunningham:

By investing you mean like help some of these other suppliers be able to make a move into those?

Michaela Barnett:

Exactly, exactly. And do bulk purchasing of ingredients and kind of form a co op, if you will, of the local makers. We have so many soap makers, so many producers here and you know, independently, they can't all buy 1000 gallons of olive oil that goes into there, so up and make that low waste. But as a business, I could do that. And I could actually start helping supply and create some of the logistics for my for my suppliers as well.

Michelle Cunningham:

That's awesome. I want to talk a little bit about the products you actually sell. And the the impact that's that's coming from this from people rather than buying something and then throwing away using reusable jars and whatnot to receive their product. So what is it that you sell? And then also what is the impact of those people transitioning.

Michaela Barnett:

We have a huge list. I think we're like like 60 products now. But everything from like hand soap to laundry, liquid laundry detergent, laundry detergent, powder, lotions, a several different types of hair care of a lot of things for your kitchen, we have this local solid dish soap that is just dreamy, actually, all her soaps are just they're just beautiful. You want to eat them, and you're like, I'm not gonna eat that. I mean, it probably be okay, it's not toxic, but shouldn't eat so that we you know, we have a lot in our in our product list is actually growing faster than I thought because the business is growing a lot faster than I thought we launched just three months, three months ago. And in that time, it has like completely exploded and the most beautiful way. And I've got customers reaching out to me and saying like, hey, do you have anything that does this? Like, do you have a good exfoliator? Do you ever vinegar? Do you have glycerin? Or and then I'll try and find a good bulk low waste local provider for that. Or they'll say like, Hey, I use this amazing deodorant. It's low waste, and I want to get through you. Why don't you offer their stuff? And so I'm like, Oh, great, thanks. Fine. Yeah. So our product list has really grown quite fast. Because of this community driven nature, right? My customers are reaching out and saying like, hey, I'd love to see this in your shop. And in terms of the impact, I think it's just I think it's doing two things and they feel kind of like on different sides of the spectrum. So one is that this is actually Sustainable Living made really easy for people, they put in the order. And either I bring them the goods, or they just stop by and they pick up everything that their household needs, they don't have to think about it, they don't have to evaluate the ingredients, the environmental impact, because I'm doing all of that for them. So on the one hand, it makes it really easy. On the other hand, there's this really beautiful intentionality about using this products that I think helps us live into the pleasurable side of sustainable living a little more. And I think that that is what part of this transition towards the circular economy and towards, you know, a resilient climate future is going to take, it's going to take us to stop talking about how sustainable living is scarcity. And it's about all the things that you have to give up and all that the hard things about you have to do. Instead, actually, it can be about some of the really beautiful things that we add to our lives. And let me tell you using these products, is pleasurable, you know, I sniff our lavender bergamot hand soap. And I'm just delighted, right, I am taking the time to read the shampoo bar and to my scalp. Knowing that it was made by a woman who lives on a farm an hour away from me, it smells great, and it's moisturizing my hair. And that is enjoyable and pleasurable. So I think the impact that I've seen, I'm kind of this level is a you don't have to think about it too much. The you can think about it and you can really dig into and live in to the really delightful, joyful and pleasurable aspects that making the transition to more sustainable products and living brings you.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, well I imagine that some of these products must be so nice, because this is someone who's putting, like love and care into what they're creating. It's maybe not this giant mass market product.

Michaela Barnett:

Absolutely. Like the you know, we get a lot of our liquid suppliers from a company in Missouri, it's a family owned business that they supply to several resellers around the country. And you know, if I have a question, I can literally call them up and say, Hey, you know, Brandon, Alicia, I have a question about this product. And talk to them. I imagine, you know, if I were trying to get through with some huge conglomerate, oh my gosh, can you imagine? And instead I'm like, hey, actually, you know, this question this problem. And let me tell you, you know, we can do custom scent blends for a lot of our liquid products. And so they are just yummy. They're just intoxicatingly yummy. And our customers have feedback. So when I'm washing dishes with some rosemary lemon grass dish soap, you're just like, Why? Why am I not experienced this combination before and it's scented with essential oil. So it's not, you know, this harmful synthetic fragrance? Yeah, it's it's pretty delightful. I love working in my store room smells so good.

Michelle Cunningham:

It does sound kind of awesome. Yeah, so you mentioned you deliver it yourself? What what are you gonna do as this gets bigger?

Michaela Barnett:

I actually we my team has grown. So I was doing the delivery in the pickup, we now have a part time employee. And then I have an independent contractor helping me with social media. So I've gone from one to, you know, two and a half or two or you know, I mean three human beings, full people, but in terms of time, and, you know, I'm gonna lean into the growth of this. It's happening way faster than I expected. It's so beautiful. And I trust that the right people are going to show up to make this happen. You know, I've already had folks reach out and say either, I want to start a reseller in my community that's not Knoxville, and we've been able to chat through some of the lessons I've learned. And I've had some folks in Knoxville say hey, this has been my dream. I'm like, that's amazing great because we're gonna need way more than one refill theory to serve our community you know, this is abundance not scarcity. This is collaboration, not competition. So it's, yeah, I'm going to do everything I can to help others do this and then grow my team because I have no interest in this being the the Michaela show I want this to be the circularity show.

Michelle Cunningham:

Would you ever consider trying to replicate this in other cities yourself?

Michaela Barnett:

That's the long term dream, actually, but not with a franchise model. Because I'm not interested in accumulating capital. I'm interested in making this a viable alternative. That still is People serving their communities. So in the mid to long term, I really helped to develop an online course and resource hub that's taken all the lessons I've learned and partner with other resellers who've been in business longer than I have in other parts of the country that has, you know, varying models to create a resource so that people can replicate this and their own communities. And we can really represent a viable alternative and a bit of a threat to the big companies and really put the pressure on them to transition their own business models.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, that would be awesome. If you had like, yeah, this way to help other people do the same thing. I imagine it's just such a logistical business. Where are the pieces? Like, what what would you need to teach someone about this?

Michaela Barnett:

Yeah, I mean, I play whack a mole all day long. So I'm a full time PhD students, I run this business. I'm an editor for a Science Magazine. So yeah, life is totally freaking crazy. But I wake up thinking every day, because I can't believe I get to do this work. Honestly, it's so hands on. It's so applied, it's so beautiful. But you have to teach someone how to be everything from an accountant, to a social media manager to an order fulfillment specialist to a customer service guru. I'm learning so much every single day, and I can't wait to pass that on to other people. Every, I'd like to say every day brings a different challenge. But like every 15 minutes brings a different challenge, to be honest. But it's all good. And it's it's all learning.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, I'm trying to think through like all the things you must have to do. It's like, what? Well, you have to you have to like make these connections with suppliers. You have to actually get this stuff and get it into your jars and all of that, which I'm assuming are yours.

Michaela Barnett:

Mm hmm. Yeah. So there's a few different ways to do that model. I won't get into all the nitty gritty specifics. But yes, yes. So we, we own the jars and people return them to us so that they can be kept in circulation so that it's actually a viable refill model.

Michelle Cunningham:

So when you deliver you deliver it in these refillable jars, and then when they're done, they put them back. Next time you deliver you just pick them up and bring them bring them back?

Michaela Barnett:

Exactly, yeah, so they just put them out. And we have these recycled Canvas tote bags with our logo on them. And so on their delivery days, they just set out their empties get their full and for pickup, they just bring their empties and take away their full, I think we'll probably be transitioning to a brick and mortar in the next year or two while continuing the delivery and pickup options. And at that point that's going to represent kind of a split and the business model where folks can bring their own containers and just fill up exactly the amount that they want. And just pay by weight.

Michelle Cunningham:

That would be really cool. What what are the biggest challenges you think you face in? I guess making this like whatever your big dream is for this?

Michaela Barnett:

Yeah. So I really do approach this business. As a sustainability scientist and a behavioral scientist. That's the two ways that I've been trained as an academic. And as a sustainability scientist, the biggest challenge is making sure that these are actually sustainable, better alternatives. From an emissions standpoint, you know, glass is heavier than plastic, you got to make sure that the shipping makes sense that the supply chains that, you know, we're not just looking at this from it, are we diverting waste from the landfill? But are these products better along their entire life span? But a much more interesting question comes from my behavioral science side, which is that okay, we've, if we segment kind of people and to how likely they are to adopt a refill model, you probably have like 10% of people who are going to do this, no matter how hard it is, no matter you know how shitty the products are, I don't know if I can swear on your podcast, no matter how bad the products are. Just because it's better for the planet. Right? I was I was that environmentalist? Oh God, I use terrible products in my early 20s that I was like, my hair was greasy and dry. And I like fell off of him like it's okay. It's a sustainable shampoo bar, like brushing my teeth with baking soda and Dr. Bronner's, it was awful. And then you have 10% of people that no matter how mainstream or easy or inexpensive this becomes, they might never adopt it. So I really want to focus on that 80% of people who might adopt this, but there are different barriers and hurdles that we have to come from the business side to really facilitate that adoption. And so, you know, I need to ask questions like, okay, are these quality concerns is this brand loyalty that they've got their brands that they love? And so transitioning to new ones is going to be hard? Is that convenience, cost confusion? Not enough knowledge. So I am really excited to keep digging into the behavioral science side of this problem to say, How can we really help support individuals in their transition towards more sustainable living and take away all the behavioral barriers so that this is an easy default option? And then we got to take that same lens. And we got to look at the producers and the distributors and say, what are the barriers in place to keep the Unilever's and the Procter and Gamble's and the targets and the Walmart and all these big ones, both from the supply side to the distribution side, from embracing refills and embracing circularity? So I think those are the two questions that I don't have an answer to, and that I'm really excited to keep digging into with this business.

Michelle Cunningham:

Yeah, I love the the scientific approach to that. And honestly, like, if you can find answers to those questions, there's probably so many different things that could come out of that to help along the chain of each of those aspects from like, the suppliers to the customers. Is there anything our listeners can do to help?

Michaela Barnett:

Yeah, I'm sure that you probably have, well, you may have access to a refill market, I won't say you probably well, there's a lot of cities that don't. But you might be surprised. So look and see if you have these options near you. And also say that, you know, if you don't have a refill market near you, we've been convinced by the marketers and the producers that we have to have a different product for every single thing. But let me tell you some, some homemade cleaner, vinegar, kasteel. So baking soda, these things go a long way. And we can use a lot of what we already have in our homes, we don't have to buy specialized products for everything. But the really biggest part is zooming away from this individual action focus to support legislation. There's really exciting legislation that was introduced over a year ago, I think it's gone through a few different iterations. But it's the break free from plastic Pollution Act. And it's the most widespread piece of you know, waste legislation that's probably ever been proposed and the US that really introduces EPR, which is extended producer responsibility policies that put the onus for pollution back on producers, it has a comprehensive set of policies from a national, you know, container deposit law, to different single use bands to fees. It's, it's a really, really exciting and promising piece of legislation. So what you can do right now is mobilize people in your area to talk to your lawmakers and really throw support behind the policies where this problem will be solved. That the level of collection act, collective action, do what you can in your household to that's important. But we're going to fix this when we when we come together out of our households to really, really change the way goods are, are produced and sold.

Michelle Cunningham:

You might have already said it, but I missed it. What's the name of the legislation?

Michaela Barnett:

The break free from plastic pollution act.

Michelle Cunningham:

Well, yeah, I'll have to look that up more deeply. I don't know too much about it. But I do know that like things that have passed here, at least in my part of the day, I don't even know if it covers the whole Bay, like, we don't have plastic bags at the grocery store and things like that. Even those things have made little bits of difference and at a much bigger scale than trying to convince everyone to do stuff individually. So yeah, yeah, we'll definitely have to check that out. Well, before we sign off, we like to end every episode with a toast to their What do you hope for our planet's future?

Michaela Barnett:

I'll tell you my why which I have attached to a post it note on my desktop monitor that I can see right now. And this is my hope for our planet and our people: to hold power accountable and to empower those without it, people and planet over profit, to change our disposable status quo to one that is reusable and regenerative. That's what I hope that we value that we value people and planet earth.

Michelle Cunningham:

Thank you for listening to the show today. If you love this show, please leave us a review wherever you listen to podcasts. You can learn more about KnoxFill by visiting knoxfill.com that's k-n-o-x-f-i-l-l.com or visit our show notes at toastedearth.com for more links in details about this episode. If you're currently working on an idea, company, nonprofit or movement to benefit the environment, send us an email at hello@toastedearth.com we would love to hear from you. Lastly, we'd like to give a shout out and heartfelt thank you to Steve our latest supporter, you can support the show at buymeacoffee.com/toastedearth. Becoming a supporter means having a direct hand in spreading awareness about the environmental issues discussed on the show. The more support we get the more we can promote the show to grow our audience and spread the word. Raise a glass to the earth everyone. It's the only one we've got