Although Salina Derish had a well-paying job working for the federal government, she says she needed a change after having her second child.
“I was adulting—you know, making a living, but not living a dream,” said Derish, handing over snack bars to her son and daughter.
“I wasn’t living a life that aligned with my values,” she continued. “So I began making changes in life that would bring me back to that.”
One of the first changes Derish says she made was eliminating methylisothiazolinone from her household. Used as a synthetic biocide and preservative, methylisothiazolinone is found in many of the hygiene products used today, and caused Derish to develop “the worse case of eczema I’d ever experienced.”
But the elimination process was easier said than done, said Derish. To find products that would help her skin heal, she had to start commuting to Vancouver’s Soap Dispensary for alternative products and ingredients to make her own soaps.
And that’s when the inspiration hit.
“I started wishing they’d do it with groceries,” said the 32-year-old. “And the next time I went there, they had … but it was still a ways away.”
Which is when Derish says she began looking around Chilliwack for the right opportunity.
“I was able to take a (several year) sabbatical from work, so I thought now is the time to take a risk if I’m ever going to do it.
“I’ve always been passionate about the environment,” said Derish. “I started a recycling program when I was six-years-old, and became a vegetarian at 12.”
So taking a deep breath, Derish said she took the leap in January of this year and began the process to open PickEco Refills, the Fraser Valley’s first zero-waste grocery store.
“This is a totally new concept for Fraser Valley Health,” explained Derish. “And I’m going to do my best to keep it affordable for almost everyone.”
Located in the heart of Chilliwack’s downtown, PickEco Refills Ltd. has made its new home in the ArtHouse on Mill Street’s former location (2-9360 Mill Street).
“I chose downtown Chilliwack rather than Sardis because I feel like (this area) is under serviced,” continued the new entrepreneur.
“There’s a lot of really great businesses around here that have been doing great things for a long time against some pretty steep odds, and I want to join that … (which is why) I’ve taken a collaborative approach with local businesses.”
And in sticking with her zero-waste goals, Derish has made it her mission to make PickEco Refills Ltd. as environmentally friendly as possible.
All of the store’s cabinets, countertops, and gravity bins were purchased second hand, and Derish says she’s stocking up on glass jars and the like that customers can use when purchasing their environmentally friendly bulk grocery items.
“We’re going to offer dried goods, oils—essential and cooking—detergents, soaps, deodorant, toothpaste, frozen foods, spices, and kimchi,” explained Derish.
However, due to food and health regulations, many of the store’s products will have to be filled by staff members. But not to worry, said Derish.
“We’ll have a waiting area and a kid’s corner. We want to be inclusive and have people to enjoy shopping here.”
Which is why Derish says PickEco Refills Ltd. will also be hosting workshops showing people how to make their own DIY bath and body products, and will be accepting certain recycling products like batteries, snack bar wrappers, and glass jars, among others.