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Have you ever mused over how many containers of liquid hand soap you may have gone through in a year, or thought about the number of detergent bottles you may have thrown out during your lifetime? What if we could reduce this number, even just a little bit? Protea Zero Waste was born in Kailua, Hawaii, from the vision to help our beautiful environment, even in little ways, and to spark a community to practice a planet-minded lifestyle.  

Thanks to Lori’s vision for a zero-waste shop, you can get high quality soaps, detergents, lotions, beauty products, sunscreen, toothpaste, and more, most of which is locally made in Hawaii, all at a warm, welcoming Kailua storefront. And you don’t have to compromise on quality or price. 

Lori Mallini opened Protea Zero Waste in 2020, realizing that she had too many products to sustain the set-up and break-down of her booths at the Hawaii farmers markets. Despite the fact that Protea’s first months coincided with the many Covid 19 shutdowns and restrictions, Lori has been thrilled by the community’s response to her eco-friendly shop. People are driving from across the island to purchase their sustainable products, refill their detergents, and fill shampoo bottles. 

During her earlier years as a professional dancer in Los Angeles, Lori came to face an important question: What is all this “stuff” that we as Westerners accumulate really for? Seeking answers, Lori gave away most of her possessions and booked her ticket out of Los Angeles. Landing in Brazil she saw life from another perspective. People had less and lived more. Dancing Samba with them for over a year, Lori rekindled the spark of joy in life.

By the time she left Brazil for Hawaii, Lori was motivated with a plan to return to school and pursue her other passion: Environmental Studies. After a few years here doing Environmental policy work, Lori saw the need for change on the community level. Policy work offered slow and incremental solutions. By going directly to the community, she felt that she could make a bigger impact. 

Our modern society is “addicted to plastic,” as Lori puts it. It’s true. Our grocery stores are piled high with products wrapped in individual plastic wrappers inside of larger plastic containers. We can’t go outdoors without seeing plastic littered about. Beaches are coated with tiny scatters of microplastics. It’s beyond evident that we, as humanity, have a problem to face.

Lori offers a beam of hope: “Zero waste is the ultimate goal, but it’s about the journey of getting there, not about perfection. Habits take time to break, so have patience with yourself. Use what you have at home, and then be mindful of what you add.” 

The simple act itself of supporting a small business like Lori’s has waste-reducing effects. Think of the many mechanisms that a large corporation requires to get you a specific product. How many hands does each piece of what you receive go through? How many wrappings, containers, and how much energy byproduct results from its production? When we buy from small, eco-minded businesses like Lori’s, we cut this environmental cost at least in half. One of Lori’s suppliers is Oahu Organics.

Even making a few small changes in our daily habits can help reduce waste. “We believe in humanity and the change that is possible when we come together to act in favor of ourselves and our planet,” says Lori, speaking on behalf of the inspiring community who shop at Protea Zero Waste. 

Studies alarmingly show that the average person eats about a credit card’s worth of plastic per week.  Per week! 14 million tons of plastic now enter the ocean each year. The Pacific Garbage Patch, an accumulation of plastic and other trash in the Pacific ocean, is over twice the size of Texas and growing. “We are in a plastic crisis,” Lori expresses with urgency, “and Hawaii is ready for a store like this.” 

Protea Zero Waste


35 Kainehe St Unit 102, Kailua, HI 96734

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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)