Alyssa and Patrick Bolanos recently opened Orlando's first eco-friendly store across from Lake Ivanhoe in September of this year. Oh Eco offers shoppers a plethora of sustainably made and ethically sourced goods. Some of the items available in their store include shampoo and conditioner bars, and a refill station for products such as soaps and cleaners.
Alyssa’s sustainability journey began by seeing how resourceful her grandparents were growing up, “One of my first phrases as a child was, Papa fix it,” said Alyssa.
From then on, Alyssa began taking baby steps in the direction of living a more sustainable lifestyle. For her husband Patrick, sustainably was never at the forefront of his priorities until they had their first son, “when I saw the impact we had on this planet, it scared me that my kids wouldn't get to experience the world like I have,” said Patrick.
When the Bolanos clan came to Orlando a little over a year ago it didn’t take them long to realize that they wouldn’t have a place to get their everyday sustainable goods. This realization, along with wanting to do better for their children is what the Bolanos’s say motivated them to open Oh Eco.
For Alyssa and Patrick, being parents is what drives them to do better in life. Opening Oh Eco means as much as it does to them as it does for their children, “my wife started us on this journey and as she shared more about what she was learning I also began taking an interest for my child's future,” said Patrick.
Alyssa was born in Tunisia and Patrick is from Cali, Colombia, “being first generation business owners in the U.S. is a huge accomplishment after all my parents’ sacrifices” said Patrick.
One of the first ways the Bolanos’ began practicing a more environmentally conscious lifestyle was through cloth diapering. While this change may not come easy to most parents, the impact it makes in the environment is massive. Studies show that diapers in landfills can take up to 500 years to decompose, “once we took that step, everything else came easy,” said Alyssa.
Having only been in Orlando for a short amount of time, the Bolanos’ are already helping to give back to the community. One way they’ve done this is through community cleanups around the city of Orlando. They have partnered with other businesses from the Pinery and Epic Paddle, to Keep Orlando Beautiful on cleanup projects around the city. Alyssa says she plans to continue these projects on a monthly basis in the hopes of inspiring other businesses in Orlando to promote a more planet friendly lifestyle.
Alyssa and Patrick will also be hosting seed and clothing swaps on their patio at Oh Eco in the future. These events will help the community by encouraging the re-use of items, as well as help to cut back on the need for production of new items. “If we can positively impact the world around us, even if just only our local communities and city, then I think whatever we are doing here is a job well done,” said Patrick.
Oh Eco is located across from Lake Ivanhoe, Alyssa said the walkability of the area is one of the reasons she knew it’d be the perfect spot. Yet, the driving factor in their decision to open Oh Eco in the Lake Ivanhoe area was as Alyssa said, “the sense of community we found here was really refreshing to see”.
Both Alyssa and Patrick have fallen in love with Orlando since moving here, “I really love the access to nature and the outdoors, it’s truly a blessing to live here,” said Patrick. For the Bolanos’, the Orlando Life means everything, it means home, a place to raise their children, and a place “to do better for the planet,” said Patrick.
The Bolanos’ dream for Oh Eco is to spark a positive change in the Orlando community. “I just want to make sustainable options accessible until it’s the norm” said Alyssa, “until everyone’s like ew plastic, no”.