For Aimée Carrillo, changing her lifestyle to live an eco-friendly life was crucial to support the cause of helping the environment. Her journey led her to start her own business through the sale of stainless steel, bamboo and glass straws, as well as reusable bags.
“ByAimeeOh” was founded more than eight months ago. Carrillo, a 25-year-old entrepreneur and UTEP alumna, started her business after a close friend inspired her to reduce the use of plastic and waste to save the planet.
“She (my friend) educated me about what’s going on and how all the trash, not only plastic straws, but plastic bottles and other kind of stuff affect the oceans,” Carrillo said. “She gave me my first reusable straw and I was so inspired that I decided to buy more to give to my friends and family. Once I got the straws I posted them on my personal Instagram and people asked me ‘Where did you get those?’ ‘I want one’ and that’s how it started.”
According to an article by National Geographic, just in the U.S. alone, one estimate suggests 500 million straws are used every single day. And in a recent study according to Science Advances, 8.3 billion plastic straws have polluted the world’s beaches in 2019 alone.
Part of her goal is not only to help the environment, but also the local economy. Her reusable bags and eco-friendly packaging are handmade and produced in Cd. Juárez.
“At the beginning I was giving the straws in paper bags because I didn’t want to use plastic, but still I wanted not to use the paper bags, so I was trying to look for something where my clients could bring their straws with them,” Carrillo said. “I remember a friend of mine used to make pouches and makeup bags when I was in high school, and I was like ‘I’m going to ask her’ because I wanted to do something that can support local.”
For Carrillo, selling straws is not the only goal. Aside from growing her business and introducing other products in the future, helping change the mentality of the community is one of the goals in her list.
“One of the comments that always gets me is when (people) say, ‘We’re not going to make any change, we live far away from the ocean,’ but what they don’t know is that our trash goes to the ocean and not only the oceans, but our landfills and mountains,” Carrillo said.
In an attempt to help the local landscapes, Carrillo said every time she goes hiking to the Franklin Mountains, she takes with her a bag to pick up the trash she finds along the way.
“The things we’re doing now are affecting the people, the animals, the fields and mountains here in El Paso, and this will also have an impact in the future for our children,” Carrillo said. “Right now, we’re in a situation we can’t ignore, because it’s getting to a point where it’s getting bad.”
For Carrillo, the next step is to introduce new products once a month, shampoo bars – to avoid the use of plastic bottles – and bamboo toothbrushes are some of the items she is working on at the moment.
“Some other things I will start doing are campaigns and events to share my experience on how this transition has been for me and just try to give people tips on what they can do to make their homes eco-friendly,” Carrillo said. “I want other people to be inspired. I didn’t know anything about business and I want other women to start their own business and become their own boss.”
The products by “ByAimeeOh” can be found at local coffee shops such as Savage Goods, 1201 N. Oregon St., and Global Coffee, 1513 N. Zaragoza Road, and on Instagram at @ByAimeeOh.