Nelene Deguzman, left, and Val Timin co-own Cero. They curate products that are locally made, vegan and low on plastic and packaging.

After three years of calling midtown Tucson home, zero-waste shop Cero is getting some new west-side digs this fall.

Cero co-founders Val Timin and Nelene Deguzman officially signed the lease for their new location on Thursday, Sept. 1. They plan on moving to their new retail space at the Monier Apartments, between the MSA Annex and Mercado San Agustin, sometime this fall, according to Timin.

"We hope to be set up and running before the holiday season, but at the latest we will open up in the early new year. We're very excited to bring our second brick-and-mortar home space to life," Timin said in an email.

The Cero duo transformed their business from a pop-up shop at the 5 Points Farmers Market in 2019 to a brick and mortar and online store in 2020. The shop offers personal care goods, a refillery for your soaps, shampoos and other products, numerous sustainable recycling programs and a local delivery service. 

All of the shop’s changes along the way have been a part of the “long game” of creating a “culture of sustainability in our community, both in Tucson and Arizona and as far as we can take it, really,” Timin says.

Despite all the changes, some things never change — like the shop carrying vegan, sustainable products.

Find bamboo toothbrushes, soy wax candles, soap and shampoo bars, Swedish dishcloths and more at Cero’s current location at 228 S. Tucson Blvd. until they move to their new location at 160 S. Avenida del Convento Suite 188 in the coming months.

Citlali Montoya fills up a container with dish soap at Cero. The store began as a pop-up shop in May 2019 and now has a retail space.

“We're very proud to support so many local vendors and woman-owned or women-owned companies and handmade items by local artists like Wisdom Body and Soul or Agave Pantry and Truelli Nature,” Timin says. “And we also have a 100% vegan product lineup which we welcome folks who aren't necessarily vegan, but it's a nice perk for those who are, so that they know that everything in our store is free from animal byproducts and cruelty-free.”

Cero is more than just a business looking to sell products to customers. They want to help teach the community about living sustainably and how doing so can better our community and beyond.

“Beyond just selling zero-waste stuff, or plastic-free stuff, which we love to provide, we really want to show people how to deeply care about the environment and the way we affect it,” Timin says. “So that means having sustainable workshops through our shop, where we have talks, lectures, or just kind of circle discussions on topics that are relevant in our day-to-day lives, you know, like how to run an eco-friendly kitchen or what are the sustainable resources available in our community.”

The shop hosts local events such as litter pick-ups and used clothing swaps to keep the community connected with sustainable living. You can also find free clothing anytime at Cero’s in-shop “destiny rack,” which is filled with used clothing that you can swap to refresh your wardrobe or simply find that pair of perfect-fitting jeans you were destined to wear, according to Timin.

But wait, there’s more.

Cero has a helpful recycling program, called Cerocycling, that allows you to bring in items like broken-down cardboard boxes or unused takeout utensils and containers that can be reused or repurposed to help keep them out of landfills. (Check out their website for a complete list of stuff you can recycle at Cero!)

“We have them (cardboard boxes) in our backroom at the shop and we have them posted online, and also through word of mouth people hear about them and come get cardboard boxes from us for shipping or moving or packing or building things for their pets or kids,” Timin says. “We're not going to discriminate on what you're building with your cardboard.”

Cero has a recycling program that allows you to bring in items like broken-down cardboard boxes or unused takeout utensils and containers that can be reused or repurposed to help keep them out of landfills.

As for items like unused takeout utensils, those also get repurposed in the community and are donated to local organizations, like The Lot on 22nd.

Other organizations Cero collaborates with include the Primavera Foundation, Community Care Tucson, Spreading Threads and more.

“I think the benefit of zero-waste living is that it's a way to, at least within your own four walls and to the best of your ability, have some control of what you're putting out,” Timin says. “And it is very, very tangible. Like, I know that there is the argument that our individual efforts absolutely don't add up, ‘so why bother?’ You know, ‘It's the corporations who are the biggest polluters and our efforts just can't make up for what they're not doing.’ But I like to believe in the positive trickle effect. So the more youth that we can influence now, the more future leaders and decision makers we're creating and, hopefully, we're creating strong advocates for the environment, who can lead policy for the next, you know, decades to come.”

It’s more than a social media fad.

For Cero co-founders Timin and Deguzman, sustainable living isn’t something to just promote for clicks on Instagram. Instead, it’s a way of life.

Timin, 31, began her journey to becoming more environmentally conscious when she was finishing up her time as a student at Tucson High School, learning about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a patch of trash and debris in the Pacific Ocean.

“I started to wonder, ‘Couldn't we have all the stores, restaurants and everything that we do, without any waste as a byproduct?’ And of course, you know, here we are 13 years later and environmental and plastic pollution is still a giant concern globally,” she says.

Cero is preparing to move to its new location on Tucson's west side. 

Timin, who has a background in business and marketing, met her Cero business partner and co-founder through a coworker at the local web design and marketing business, Anchor Wave Internet Solutions.

Timin and Deguzman (a nearly lifelong vegan with a background in biochemistry and pharmaceuticals) hit it off over their passions for eco-friendly lifestyles. In 2019, the two began discussing a possible entrepreneurial endeavor centered on sustainability.

Within two months of those conversations, Cero, the Spanish word for zero, was born.

Since then, the community responses have been positive, Timin says, and have been essential to Cero’s growth as a real-deal eco-friendly shop — growth that she hopes will continue to spread throughout Tucson, Arizona and the entire Southwest.

Cero. Beyond Zero Waste Shop at 228 S. Tucson Blvd. in Tucson, Ariz. on August 12, 2022. The store began as a pop-up shop in May 2019 and now has a retail space. The owners curate products that are locally made, vegan and low on plastic and packaging.

“We like to practice what we preach,” Timin says. “Especially in the zero-waste world and with so many people selling zero-waste stuff online these days and a lot of it just being, you know, kind of Instagram aesthetic picture perfect, we want to be that more real kind of environmentally friendly.

“That means riding your bicycle in the summer heat sometimes and showing up places a little sweaty, or it means like, we probably sourced most of the furniture in our shop secondhand, if not all secondhand, using both secondhand furniture or salvage wood materials to build our shelves and it means supporting local businesses and local people along the way with that, too.”

For more information about Cero, visit their website to stay up to date with their latest news, hours and events.


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Digital Features Reporter

Elvia is a journalism and history graduate from the University of Arizona. She hopes to create stories that show what makes Tucson and its community special. 🌵