Real Readers: One Mom's Ecominders

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Real Readers is an series featuring the stories of real people making a difference in the world. Are you or someone you know going above and beyond to do something for the Earth? Tell us about it!

In the wide world of eco-consciousness, there’s a lot to remember. Did you throw your reusable shopping bag back in the car? Does your son know to turn the water off when he’s brushing his teeth? Did everyone at the office get your double-sided printing memo?

Allison Shaewitz found herself facing similar issues at the beginning of her journey to make her life more Earth-friendly. A few months ago, she started Ecominders, a company that makes little reminders to help everyday people on their quests to reduce their impact, no matter how small. She started working on the project a year-and-a-half ago, often referencing for Ecominders’ facts, and finally launched the company itself in November.

Shaewitz wants her small stickers to make a big impact, and help people see “how easy it is.”  “There are green alternatives to everything I do. If people start with this, my goal is for someone to want to become more educated and do more.”

When Allison Woke Up

These Ecominders for your home help reduce your impact in small, daily ways.
“I was living a life of domestic ignorant bliss. I got pregnant, started nesting, making my house ready for Jack. I really wasn’t thinking about environment or being green,” said Shaewitz.

One evening, she went to a Shaklee party (like a Tupperware party for eco-friendly cleaning). When she learned about the toxins that can be found in some home products, Shaewitz realized she wanted to “provide a less toxic environment for my son. I started becoming totally militant.”

One day, she was watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and “Cameron Diaz was on, saying to put a post-it note on the mirror if you can’t remember to turn off the water when you brush your teeth.” That got Shaewitz thinking, “What if everybody had little reminders, where if everyone did them it would make a difference? It was a ‘light bulb’ moment.”

How To: Start Your Own Business

Once Shaewitz decided to start Ecominders, she got the ball rolling on a business plan and started going through the motions of setting up a legitimate home business. As a former event planner, she had never started her own business before.

  1. Step One: Trademark It– Shaewitz enlisted the help of a patent lawyer to research her product’s potential name and legally own the term.
  2. Step Two: Find an Artist – An ad on Craigslist helped Shaewitz find a graphic designer who could help her “get the ideas in my head to paper. “He was very patient. I would just come up with designs, and he would transform it into something more professional looking.”
  3. Step Three: Find a (Green) Printer – Since the purpose of her business is to help people reduce their environmental impact, Shaewitz had to work to find a way to reduce the part of her business with the most potential to leave a footprint on the environment: printing. “I had a hard time sourcing an environmentally friendly printer. I didn’t realize how toxic printing is. Then I found a printer in Chicago called DigitalHub, who is extremely earth-friendly and a leader in sustainable printing.”

Then and Now

“From that moment to this moment has been a total journey. Interesting, time consuming. I’ve become even more obsessed with being green,” she said. “For me, more than anything, I feel like I was an educated person, and nobody seemed to care. I felt very alone. People think ‘I have to adjust my life, it’s going to be inconvenient, it’s going to be expensive.’ But you really don’t have to make drastic changes.”

So far, business has been moving forward for Shaewitz’s startup. “I’ve had a very good response to it. I did an editorial in Daily Green, I’ve been sending out product samples, trying to balance being a mom and doing this.”

Organization and budgeting have also been high on her list of things to do. “I drew up a marketing plan for myself. For me, it was just trying to get the word out in an economically feasible way.” Even though she’s already a little over budget, she calls the extra expenses a “sanity cost.” Shaewitz “needed something to use my brain and focus on something else. My family and friends have been very supportive.”

Founder Allison Shaewitz and her son, Jack.

Founder Allison Shaewitz and her son, Jack.

What the Future Holds

Shaewitz hopes to try and expand her product into education, to help kids learn about being environmentally aware at a young age. “I’m trying to capitalize on that kids can be so instrumental in learning to be green and help their parents to be green. I really feel like it can be helpful.”

Along with hoping to give kids “fun tools for being green,” Shaewitz hopes to move into the retail market, perhaps into hotels and other areas of the office. “I have other ideas, I’m getting great suggestions. You don’t need to spend a lot to really make a difference, and Ecominders can help you save in the long run.”

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