The best part of this work is meeting members of the community who are also passionate about sustainable living." -- Ceilidh Yurenka
For at least 26 years, 212A Mass. Ave. in East Arlington has been an address associated with the art of sustainability.
Wedged between Maxima Gift Center and the Continentale Hair Salon, the Capitol Square location has harbored Artbeat, an art studio, Greater Goods Collaborative – and now YES! The name stands for Your Eco Source.
Jan Whitted offered her artistic touch at Artbeat from 1996 to 2019. Just before Covid-19 hit, Whitted opened a walk-in studio. Greater Goods arrived in August 2020 with its positive message, sharing space later with YES!
Now the purveyor of sustainable practices is having a grand reopening through Sunday, Sept. 25. Here’s what to expect:
- Join a new loyalty incentive program. Get a punch card and receive a punch for every $10 spent. Get 10 punches to receive $10 off the next purchase;
- Meet others in zero-waste initiatives, such as Arlington Mothers Out Front and Recirclable;
- Decorate hands with henna and support Henna for Humanity to raise money for humanitarian causes in India;
- Check out cross-business promotions with other local businesses, such as Wonder Yoga;
- Enjoy delicious, plastic-free lemonade; and
- Meet and greet the "plastic bag monster."
'We love working with people considering small changes for the first time'
Beyond that, visitors will be able to meet cofounders Ceilidh Yurenka, the owner, and Erin Bumgarner, an investor and collaborator. Both are Arlington mothers who say they felt compelled to play their small part in promoting climate justice for their children and future generations.
“The best part of this work is meeting members of the community who are also passionate about sustainable living," Yurenka wrote in response to queries from YourArlington.
"We love working with people who are considering small changes for the first time. We also love when really knowledgeable community members come in to share tips or information about local initiatives. Working with local artists and makers to offer waste-free gift options is also a wonderful part of our business that we hope to continue expanding.”
YES! initially opened in 2020 in partnership with the previous owner of Greater Goods Collective, renting space in the store. On Sept. 1, Greater Goods Collective stepped away, and YES! became the new owners.
"YES! is now completely dedicated to having ecofriendly and sustainable products," she wrote.
Sustainability, 'our home'
These include a variety of bulk refill options for home and personal-care essentials, alternatives to single-use home cleaning and self-care items -- especially those made of plastic -- and a curated selection of jewelry and gift options by artists and makers who are also invested in reducing packaging and plastic waste.
Asked why they chose Arlington, the response was definitive: "This is our home! Our family, friends and the wider community have been very vocal and passionate about reducing waste and fighting for climate justice, which are our core values personally and for our business."
As to services the store features, Yurenka wrote, "We all need to purchase dish soap, sponges, shampoo, laundry detergent . . . but it can be hard to find everyday essentials without adding more waste or harmful chemicals to your life. It’s time to change that."
Before buying products, the owner considers:
- What is the product made out of?
- What material is the product packaged in?
- What will happen to this product at the end of its life?
- Who makes the product?
- Where is the product originally made?
"We are committed to stocking plastic-free products that come in limited packaging. We look for companies that treat their employees with respect and pay them fairly.
"Whenever possible, we source products from other small businesses that are black- or women-owned.
"Most products are sourced in the United States, as local as possible to Massachusetts, in an effort to cut down on the transportation necessary to obtain them. We work with wholesalers to ship our products without plastic and in minimal packaging.
"We go out of our way to minimize waste. We stock our store primarily with products that are plastic-free and biodegradable. For example, even when sourcing gifts, we avoid plastic and look for alternatives made from metal, shell, glass or fabric materials."
What they ask of wholesalers
In addition, they ask wholesalers to send products with minimal packaging – and to avoid plastic. For example, before buying pillows, they ask wholesalers not to wrap each in a plastic bag.
"That said," Yurenka wrote, "the truth is most things are never truly zero-waste, so we try to avoid this term in our marketing. Despite our best efforts, there is always at least some waste involved in the manufacturing and shipping process."
Sometimes they make compromises if they believe the reasons justify it, she said. For example, Last Swab is a reusable “cotton” swab that contains some plastic. But each can be used 1,000 times, making this purchase a far better alternative than single-use cotton swabs.
"Finally, we also love supporting other small businesses and artists," she wrote, especially creators of pottery, jewelry, stationery and note cards.
- A description of the products;
- The price points for the products (a range is fine);
- How much lead time is needed to create the products;
- Links to website and social media if applicable and/or photographs; and
- Additional contact information, including phone number and general availability.
YES! hours are:
- Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Sunday, noon to 3 p.m.
Any changes to the schedule will be posted to Instagram, the owner says.
- Store website: www.yesplasticfree.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/yesplasticfree
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/yesplasticfree
Sept. 16, 2022: Arlington Stop & Shop celebrates renovation
This news feature was published Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.
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