Ross Ching, Mama’s and Hapa’s: Destroying the notion that ecofriendly has to be expensive


Ross Ching from Mama & Hapa's Zero Waste Shop, Companies That Care podcast


The Companies that Care podcast highlights companies and business leaders who are making a difference in the world, like Ross Ching, founder of Mama & Hapa’s Zero Waste Shop in Portland, Oregon.


Mama, Hapa, and their daughter at Mama & Hapa's
Mama, Hapa, and their daughter at Mama & Hapa's

Ross moved to Portland with his family in 2019 after working as a TV commercial director. He was inspired to start a zero waste shop after watching the news and hearing terrible things about climate change.

“In the past three or four or five years, there's been more and more reporting about how recycling isn't what we all thought it would be. Recycling back in the ‘90s was supposed to be our savior, and we can use as much plastic as we want. We can throw any sort of plastic in the bin and it'll get turned into a park bench. Fast forward 20 years and we have come to the realization that wasn't the case. We need to stop plastic usage at the root of it, and that's at the cash register.”

Ross explained how the zero waste movement has been gaining steam. He wanted to develop a shop that made the zero waste movement easier for everyday people to join.

“There's a large segment of the population who really want to help the environment, but they also don't want to be inconvenienced. That’s what we are trying to aim as a target market.”

Mama & Hapa’s is touch free, using an RFID smart card for payment. Ross is determined to create a business that allows people to reduce their waste at a low price point.


Mama & Hapa's Zero Waste Shop wall of products

Zero waste goes beyond saving plastic. It makes people conscious of all the steps that go into a product from cradle to grave.

“If you think about your laundry detergent, you take it home and then forget about it, right? But there was a bunch of oil that had to be drilled and then they had to take that to a factory and refine it. And then they took that to a factory to make pellets of plastic. And then they had to mold the plastic. And then they had to fill it with the stuff that goes inside of it. And the stuff that goes inside it came from somewhere. Then it has to get driven to Target and then you have to drive to Target and then you get the bottle, drive back home, and it's this huge process that encompasses the entire globe.”

Mama & Hapa’s has 41 dispensers of household products. Ross’ hope is to have a zero waste shop in every neighborhood so people do not have to drive to get there. He’d also like their prices to continue to fall so people will realize they can live a zero waste lifestyle without spending more money.


Dispensers of product at Mama's & Hapa's Zero Waste Shop
Ross' homemade dispenser unit

Check out Mama & Hapa’s website, and if you’re in Portland, pay them a visit!


Next week on the Finding Fertile Ground podcast, I interview I interview Paula Dunn, who was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. It’s the first time I’ve interviewed anyone with a cleft lip and palate like me. Paula’s from Australia and she works as a teenage resilient expert and cognitive scientist.


The Companies That Care podcast is brought to you by Fertile Ground Communications. I alternate the Companies That Care podcast with my original podcast, Finding Fertile Ground, which shares personal stories of grit and resilience. On both my podcasts I strive to highlight voices from historically excluded populations, people who don't always get a platform.


Marie Gettel-Gilmartin, founder and principal of Fertile Ground Communications LLC, is a writer and marketing communications consultant who loves to take the pain and stress out of writing for her clients. She specializes in making the complex clear, using dynamic, accessible language to explain and communicate important issues. She positions her clients as experts in their fields and helps them communicate about pressing issues. Writing communications that boost employee engagement and thought leadership, she also coaches leaders and executives on how to strengthen communications and leadership. She loves to connect people and resources or solve seemingly impossible problems.


As a podcaster for justice, I stand with my sisters from the Women of Color Podcasters Community. We are podcasters united to condemn the tragic murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and many others at the hands of police.


Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified women-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business.

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