Exploring zero-waste in conversation with The Heal Room
The work we do here at Clean Water Action is about bringing people together, and we love partnering with other folks who share our values and mission. The Heal Room is one of the many local businesses with whom we’ve connected to encourage environmental progress in Rhode Island . Karen and Ana, the founders of Rhode Island’s first zero-waste wellness shop, shared their story with Clean Water Action Rhode Island highlighting their goals around mindfulness, eco-futurism, and the importance of imperfection. Through eco-conscious self care and platforming community-based environmental activism, The Heal Room has been helping Rhode Islanders maintain sustainable lifestyles since 2020.
From solid seaweed shampoo bars to bamboo toilet paper, everything The Heal Room offers is fair-trade and cruelty-free. Sustainability, not consumerism, is the foundation of the shop. “The Heal Room is a safe place to learn and grow in all aspects of life,” says Karen, who manages the store’s ethical self-care section.
Ana, the face behind the zero waste and refill section, agrees, adding that “The Heal Room has taught me a deeper understanding of the harmony between ourselves and mother nature…our business embodies the connection between people and planet.” Here at Clean Water Action, people and planet are the name of the game; we focus on protecting and nurturing the deep connection between individuals and the earth. Ana recognizes that “environmentalism and human injustices are not separate…[the businesses] who we support directly impact our health and the health of our planet.”
Implementing low waste living strategies is one way to live consciously. “When I practice low waste living, I’m also practicing conscious living where I think about the before and after of each and every product that I may purchase. I find myself asking questions around the impact of everything, such as: How will it impact the ecosystems around me?” Ana asks. Clean Water Action is especially excited about businesses that promote low-waste living, since we’ve been advocating for zero waste policies like composting, shutting down incinerators, and reducing plastic pollution for decades.
Karen and Ana are “two of many who believe in building a better world for our future generations,” just like our members here at Clean Water Action. Indeed, the co-founders have made The Heal Room a space where people can “show up” for the world, by hosting Community Clean-Ups on Festival Pier, and providing resources on contacting state legislators to push for environmental advocacy. Educational workshops surrounding low waste also help make learning about sustainability more accessible. The Heal Room is interested in not only Rhode Island’s environment, but the future of the earth as well. Karen states that “taking action together by voting with our dollars, using our voice, or simply doing what we can is the ultimate guide to create change within larger companies, our cities, and eventually the rest of the world.”
This kind of community advocacy is exactly how Clean Water Action operates, and we celebrate the care and love Ana and Karen put into making the world a better place for all of us today and for generations to come. In the future, Karen “envision[s] a[n] eco-futurist lifestyle with an organic aesthetic where there is an emphasis on sustainability, with room for both high and low technological ways of living…where humanity embraces both scientific development and environmentalism.”
The co-founders of The Heal Room are particularly attentive to how their products help people build more mindful bonds with nature. “Holistic mind, body, and soul self-care tends to create a deeper bond with Mother Earth and her path you walk on,” Karen says. “Deep individual maintenance…creates a space in which we feel safe to care for something bigger than just ourselves, in this case our home planet. ‘Self-caring’ or ‘healing-within’ enhances how you see the world and how you show up for it.”
The Heal Room is dedicated to “sparking curiosity towards [low waste living] with education and community in a non-shameful way,” Karen says. “Simple ways to get started are implementing trash audits every so often and making time to meditate or breathe daily.”
“Living a sustainable, conscious lifestyle doesn’t have to be perfect. As long as you're trying, you're doing the right thing,” reflects Ana. “One of my favorite quotes pertaining to this lifestyle goes ‘We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.’ I hope this inspires you to start your imperfect journey today.”