It might have first been Captain Planet that said, “the power is yours!” But it’s now Winnipeg’s own Sam Soloway & Tyrell Witherspoon that are taking the reins.
The longtime friends & now business partners’ own motto for their low-waste project, Planet Pantry is; “Package Free. Planet Approved.” It’s something that Sam has followed in her own life in Toronto. This didn’t prove to be such a difficult habit there, but Winnipeg wasn’t quite up to par in that sense.
With personal necessity along with wanting to educate and share the lifestyle with others, Planet Pantry was born.
We’ve all heard stats and seen photos of extreme waste in the world, but was there any particular instance that inspired this idea?
SAM: I have been living in Toronto for the last 10 years where there are many zero-waste stores in existence, and they are continuing to pop up all over Ontario. Whenever I would come back to visit Winnipeg, I found that products and services that meet my low-waste needs were non-existent or inaccessible.
TYRELL: At the beginning of the pandemic, I was doing a lot of begging for Sam to come back to Winnipeg from Toronto for the summer. Clearly, it worked, and after months of talking about her opening an accessible, low-waste market, I said I would be on board to make this dream come true with her. It’s a perfect partnership.
Does your team have a background or previous knowledge to back the idea up even more?
SAM: Living low-waste for two years, and cutting single-use plastics from my everyday routine was a big part of my lifestyle in Toronto. I have spent many hours researching and learning through all of the resources and communities on the internet about how we can all lower our carbon footprints. I share the knowledge I’ve gained on my social media because it’s what I’m passionate about, and I also find it super fun while being rewarding.
TYRELL: We both come from theatre and entertainment backgrounds and have always had the environment as a priority in our lives. Sam has really taken a lot of action and research in her own life that has helped to influence myself and others through social media. Her posts can help you to start best practices to eliminate your own waste and help the planet. And now she’s sharing that knowledge to help educate through our brand’s social media platforms and help with our audience’s low-waste questions or curiosities.
I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall when deciding on a name! How did you land on Planet Pantry?
SAM: We love alliteration! We thought it was really important to have a name that explains what we are and what we stand for. We are here for the planet and plan to provide you with all of your pantry needs in the most sustainable and ethical way possible.
TYRELL: We also wanted to make an impact in showcasing who we are. We’re vibrant and fun people and our brand should reflect that as well.
What has been the best feedback you’ve received so far? Any negativity?
SAM: The positive response has been overwhelming! There are so many people who are excited to have these low-waste options ready and available to them. It’s hard to know where to start, so we want to take the hard work out of it, and have our customers and audience know that they are making a difference just by shopping with us.
TYRELL: I agree. We’ve been met with a lot of excitement and thankfulness for doing this. As for negativity, I think the one thing you can always come across is resistance to thinking that this isn’t possible or not sustainable for anyone to maintain. And what we want to help show people is that low-waste lifestyles are accessible and possible, and can be molded to meet your needs. We don’t need everyone to execute low-waste perfectly to make a big impact; just everyone doing what they can to reduce their waste.
Due to further restrictions across Manitoba, you recently had to postpone & pivot your Planet Pantry Pop-Up Market at The Forks. Lucky for us, you’re going virtual! Can you tell me more about that?
SAM: We will be unveiling our full item list on our website this coming Friday, Nov 13th so our customers can start making their lists early.
Customers will then be able to place their orders online any time from 12am on Nov 14th to 11:59pm on Nov 15th, while supplies last.
All orders will be ready for pickup at their convenience on November 21st & 22nd at Drop In Dance located at 1381 Portage Ave between 11am and 6pm.
TYRELL: It will be great to hear from our customers as well to see what products they are having a hard time finding a waste-free option for, and how we can help them find these solutions in the future.
How did you decide what products or brands you would include in the launch?
SAM: We do extensive research on every product we offer. Along with being plastic and package-free, it is important for us to offer clean, ethical, and local products. We are proud to say that everything we are offering at this upcoming pop-up comes from Canadian-based companies and brands.
Any plans to open a permanent space with your offerings?
SAM: That was actually our initial plan, but we had some setbacks due to COVID. So, we thought popping-up (virtually) to get the ball rolling would be a great introduction to the community, and we can offer products to the public before we open our permanent pantry (alliteration!).
TYRELL: Keep posted on our social media for future in-person pop-ups and future locations!
COMING SOON: http://planetpantry.square.site/