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founders' Stories

Stephanie's Story

Stephanie has been a passionate proponent of recycling and waste diversion her entire life! While growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, she was heavily impacted by the strong community supports that existed for recycling. 

After earning her nursing degree, Stephanie moved from California to Chicago where she began practicing at a large teaching hospital and also earned her Master's degree in Public Health in the area of Health Resources Management. While in Chicago, Stephanie began a hospital-wide recycling program that is still going strong almost 30 years later! 

Over the years that followed, Stephanie has made it a personal mission to close the recycling loop by always prioritizing recycled and used products, whether they be paper products, clothing, home furnishings, or vehicles.

After returning to California, Stephanie volunteered for several years in the City of Davis' "Apartment Move Out" program. This program was created to divert from the landfill the enormous quantity of valuable items that are routinely discarded by students as they move out from rental units each year. Unfortunately, the city's program was put on hold during the COVID pandemic. True to form, Stephanie stepped into the void and became a one woman apartment move out program. As a result, Stephanie has collected and then donated or sold literally tons of high quality clothing, furniture, home furnishings, and other items left behind by departing renters.  

While Stephanie was diverting usable materials from the waste stream, she was also making connections with the City, the county, UCD, and many local non-profits in an attempt to find ways to cooperatively work within the system to plug the holes. Dissatisfied with the pace of change, Stephanie again felt compelled to take matters into her own hands. In September of 2022 Stephanie partnered with long-time environmental activist Larry Fisher to launch a new non-profit reuse organization 'Community Mercantile' in Davis, California. Together they hope to build a coalition of like-minded individuals and city, state, and county entities to continue to improve upon our waste diversion practices.

 Larry's Story

Larry Fisher is a man to be reckoned with!

After earning an undergraduate degree in psychology and a masters in international agriculture, Larry spent 25 years repairing and selling used appliances. His true passion has been environmental activism and finding creative ways to reuse, recycle, and upcycle valuable, local, discarded resources. 

In the 1990's, Larry coined the term TOREMA for TOtally REcycled MAterials. Most products with recycled content sold in stores use very small amounts of post-consumer recycled content. Larry's guiding principle has been to use entirely recycled content. In fact, Cool Davis awarded him their Eco-hero award for the 10'x12' shed he invented and constructed from 100% reclaimed materials! The City of Davis also recognized his decades of environmental activism in 2019 with the Environmental Recognition Award.

Other creative manifestations of Larry's dedication included:

  • helping ship containers of used but still valuable humanitarian aid items to war torn Central America

  • teaching talented math and science high schoolers to upcycle items into usable consumer products

  • providing education on Hyper-recycling and Repurposing as well as climate change remediation and climate justice

  • working with the City of Davis' Water Wise group to innovate hardware and guidelines for grey water diversion

  • mentoring UCD Mechanical Engineering students in their capstone project to create a fully automatic chicken coop sourcing structural, electrical, and mechanical materials from the local waste stream and placing it on the Instructables website

  • volunteering on the Yolo County Landfill's Waste Advisory Committee and a Tree Davis subcommittee exploring the feasibility of converting rescued wood from city trees into higher value consumer products


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