These Two New Philly-Area Stores Are Here to Make Sustainable Shopping and Living Easier
Meet the region's newest eco-conscious shops: Ray's Reusables in Northern Liberties and Main Line SHIFT in Narberth.
As greater attention is given to bettering the planet through our consumer choices, more and more sustainability-focused businesses have been emerging in the Philadelphia area. New to the scene are Ray’s Reusables in Northern Liberties and Main Line SHIFT in Narberth, both of which aim to make low-waste shopping and living just a little bit easier. Below, get to know these two eco-conscious shops.
Founded and owned by Ray Daly, Ray’s Reusables originally started in 2019 as an Etsy shop for travel cutlery wraps made from upcycled denim. When the pandemic hit, Daly began making masks, donating 500 face coverings to local organizations during the PPE shortage and 20 percent of profits from all masks sold thereafter to businesses that work to feed people in Philly.
In November of 2020, Daly launched a mobile van to “remove the geographic barrier to refilling,” she says. Popping up in various neighborhoods across the city allows customers to buy a number of sustainable body care, kitchen, cleaning, and laundry products. For example, liquids are refilled in plastic-free containers — great for the environment and for avoiding lugging home an obnoxiously large detergent bottle.
Last month, Daly opened a roughly 800-square-foot storefront in Northern Liberties, expanding Ray’s Reusables into a brick-and-mortar. The sustainable general store allows you to BYO containers and fill up on over 40 different household essentials like shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, dish soap and more. The shop also offers swaps for single-use and disposable items so you can transform your in-home and on-the-go habits into a low-waste lifestyle. Bonus: Ray’s carries products from several local brands, including beeswax food wraps from Bee Our Guest Wraps and soaps and balms from Vellum Street Soap Company (which sources its tallow from local butchers like Primal Supply Meats!).
Daly says the idea for Ray’s Reusables came from her really thinking about how many resources went into “making a paper towel, Saran wrap, take-out containers — whatever it was that I was putting in the trash can,” and realizing she could make a change.
“I started looking into the plastic pollution crisis, and became even more impassioned after learning about the issues surrounding its persistence in the environment, the lack of reliable recycling, and the dispiriting statistics about what happens to plastic after we as consumers are done with it,” she says. “I still can’t claim that I never use single use plastic even after years of working on changing my habits. I’m not perfect, and I don’t expect anyone trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle to be either. But I don’t think it should be radical or outside of the norm for businesses to think about the environment.”
Ray’s Reusables is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is located at 935 North 2nd Street in Northern Liberties.
This Narberth-based sustainable goods and services business officially launched as a pop-up shop inside American Family Market this past January. Founded by Kimberley Bezak and Eleisha Eagle, Main Line SHIFT carries products that are sourced as locally and sustainably as possible, primarily from women-, Black-, and brown-owned businesses.
SHIFT is considered a full-service refillery, which is basically like the bulk section of a grocery store, except someone else does all the weighing, pouring and refilling for you! Customers can either bring their own containers (clean and dry) or purchase one of SHIFT’s. The shop features over 50 bulk items on the refillery side, with all liquids priced by the ounce and all non-liquids priced per piece.
On the other side of the shop, you can eco-consciously swap or buy plastic-free household and personal care items. Here, expect to find floss made out of bamboo in a stainless steel refillable container, toothpaste that comes in tablet form and is in a compostable pouch, reusable period products, and a pivot-head razor with blades that SHIFT takes back for responsible recycling.
When SHIFT moves into its permanent location in a few months (official opening date is still TBD), Bezak and Eagle plan to expand the beauty section of the shop, including makeup and skincare products. Community workshop events — like intro to low-waste, make-and-takes, and clothing swaps — are also in the works. SHIFT is also committed to community education, partnerships, and events, all of which you can find here.
Bezak and Eagle teamed up about three years ago, after Eagle — eager to create a more sustainable lifestyle — heard Bezak speak at a low-waste-focused event at the Narberth public library. (Bezak started her low-waste journey in 2013 when she read Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste. Currently, her family is down to one trash bag going to landfill per year.) Eagle says the concept of SHIFT came from their shared desire to “serve as a local resource for sustainability and make low-waste living as easy, convenient, and approachable as possible for families in the Philly area.”
Main Line Shift is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. It is currently located inside American Family Market at 230 Haverford Avenue in Narberth, but will be expanding to its own location (still in Narberth) in the coming months.