Less Than embodies Earth Day everyday

Rather than tossing out another empty plastic bottle or bag into the trash, try an affordable and sustainable approach in purchasing hygiene and cleaning products. Guests visiting Less Than won’t find any plastic bottles or bags to buy personal care items, instead there are containers that can be reused, recycled or composted. 

Less Than is the first Hampton Roads zero waste and refill shop that offers sustainable alternatives to everyday goods that are safe for everyone and our planet. It focuses on natural ingredients to make eco-friendly products for laundry products to cosmetics, personal care items and more. 

Their mission is to help guests find sustainable common goods, reflect about the life cycle of an item before purchasing, encourage a shift away from single-use and plastic and reduce waste.

Chris Simmonds, owner of Less Than, shared the importance of offering a zero waste and refill shop in the Hampton Roads community. “At Less Than, our only category is sustainability. It’s everything that we do. From the production process, we have makers who are aligned with mission initiatives taking care of the planet, making sure that they are operating on the smallest [carbon] footprint possible, using ingredients that are natural—biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, or reusable packaging,” Simmonds said.

Krystal Tuzon Gonzalez, staff member at Less Than, shared about her favorite part of working at the zero waste and refill shop.

“My favorite part is that the ideology behind the store as a whole is very cognizant of the fact that sustainability in going zero waste in that lifestyle is very much a journey. A lot of it can be based on privilege and not everybody has access to the means for sustainability and zero waste,” Gonzalez said. “Our philosophy working here is based on education, letting people know their options, but also making these things accessible to the community.”

There are three shop locations to visit Less Than in Hampton Roads: 4378 Holland Rd in Virginia Beach, 803 Shirley Ave in Norfolk and 24 S. King St. in Hampton. Each store’s location hours are 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday and 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday. All Less Than locations are closed on Monday.

Simmonds created a closed loop so that Less Than does not need to rely on landfills or even recycling centers to meet their needs. From production to distribution and product consumption, the entire process is sustainable. The bulk liquid and powdered goods come in buckets or cubes that are distributed to Less Than’s refill stations, then the return label is reused on the same bucket and shipping packaging to be sent back.

Gonzalez recommends first-time guests starting on their sustainability journey to make a simple switch from a bottled body soap to using bar soap with Less Than’s reusable sisal soap pouches. “It’s nice to be able to just pick fun scents of bar soap and it’s less bottles,” Gonzalez said. Guests don’t need to feel overwhelmed by the many options, but just take the first step to learning eco-friendly habits that can be easily practiced.

Simmonds added, “My hope is that [guests] come in and begin thinking about the products that we have here [versus] the products that they have at home and what items make sense to switch to for their household. It’s also important to me that people realize that becoming low waste is not something that happens in a single visit, and that they should use what they have at home if it’s still usable.”

The pricing of their products ranges from $0.27 – $38 to purchase personal care items and household items. Guests can refill their dish and hand soap, laundry detergent and powder, bath salts, shampoo and conditioner for affordable prices by reusing a container.

Refills for lavender liquid castile soap is $ .84/oz, $.36/oz for all purpose cleaner and $ .70/oz for African Ghana shea butter. There are numerous other scents and products available to refill and purchase at Less Than.

Gonzalez added, “I hope guests will experience a less pretentious approach to zero waste and sustainable lifestyle. Something more approachable, accessible and realizing it’s not this big scary world that they’re kind of being shoved into. [Instead] more of a gentle ‘I’ll take your hand and help lead you into it.’”

Simmonds shared how the mission of Less Than to practice sustainability aligns with his values. “It’s important for me that we move around in this world in such a way that we are respectful of it. That we view ourselves as custodians of what we have here while we’re here. And that we acknowledge that we need to leave behind something for the next generation,” said Simmonds.

Simmonds added, “When you begin to decrease your impact on the environment through waste and toxic ingredients, you do that. It’s also a benefit to our lives while we’re here. Decreasing the amount of unnecessary ingredients or chemicals, so that we can live a healthier life.”

Follow @golessthan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more info about new environmentally friendly products released and Earth Day challenges. To order online, visit www.golessthan.com and check out their blog at golessthan.com/blog to read about sustainability and environmental focused topics.

By Tiffany Warren