Business

Check out Boston’s first — and only — one-stop-shop for zero-waste products

"I’m trying to spread awareness on the alternatives that are just very simple, still affordable, still accessible, just not as common in the mainstream."

Maria Vasco, pictured here, runs zero-waste shop Uvida in the North End with the help of two employees. Senné

In Boston’s North End, you can get cannolis, fresh pasta, and now, a wide selection of zero-waste products.

Though Maria Camila Vasco, 23, originally founded Uvida as an online store while she was a senior at UMass Boston, Uvida now occupies a quaint, colorful storefront on Atlantic Avenue. 

Vasco is an immigrant and first-generation entrepreneur, according to Uvida’s website: born in Cali, Colombia, Vasco’s family moved to East Boston when she was 4-years-old. She earned her degree in environmental studies and sustainability in 2020 and felt most called to do something about plastic pollution.

“I found myself becoming really passionate about the plastic pollution problem, because I realized that I was personally contributing to that issue,” Vasco told The Boston Globe. “Plastic lasts for thousands of years when we only use these items for a few months.”

Uvida’s North End storefront on Atlantic Ave. opened its doors in December 2020. – Senné

Her first personal step in that direction was the simple purchase of a bamboo toothbrush. On the business side, she pitched her idea for a zero-waste store to UMass Boston’s entrepreneurship scholarship program her junior year. She won $5,000, which she invested in a website showcasing carefully selected products that launched in September 2019.

Advertisement:

“It is just such a great alternative, but a lot of people just don’t know about it,” Vasco told the Globe. “I’m trying to spread awareness on the alternatives that are just very simple, still affordable, still accessible, just not as common in the mainstream.”

The pandemic motivated Vasco to build out her website and open the storefront, which her parents — both entrepreneurs themselves — encouraged.

“They told me take that leap of faith, we took that leap of faith 30 years ago and didn’t look back,” Vasco told the Globe.

Advertisement:

Since then, Vasco has curated a vibrant store full of plants and zero-waste products. She also regularly hosts popups for zero-waste artists and makers, and has garnered a few thousand followers on Tik Tok. She told the Globe that as a member of Gen Z, she’s grown up knowing climate change will impact her life, and wants to do her part to inspire others.

“I like to see Uvida as a safe haven where customers can come and talk about their climate anxiety,” she said. “I know I’m doing something positive because I’m helping people feel a bit more in control.”

Jump To Comments

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com