The Palm Beach Post Monday, August 19, 2019
Jupiter Couple Become Earth-friendly Retailers
by Susan Salisbury
for The Palm Beach Post
After being appalled by gigantic piles of trash and garbage in India on their honeymoon, Jupiter natives, Elana and Stephen Smith, both 26, were inspired to begin living a lifestyle as free of plastics and paper as possible.
"We were in the mountains. it was gorgeous. Then we would turn a corner, and there was trash. We were overwhelmed by the trash that wasn't take away. They burn it by the side of the road. People here forget because it gets taken away." said Elana, a former professional chef who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America.
The couple realized that living zero waste took some effort. They wanted to make it convenient for others to make the switch also. In December, just eight months after their trip to India, they opened One World Zero Waste, a retail shop at 354 S. Cypress Drive, Tequesta. It's a combination zero waste and nutrition store.
The merchandise includes reusable stainless steel, glass or bamboo straws, but with about 500 products, goes way beyond that. The store sells essentials for zero waste living, such as un-paper towels that fit on a regular paper towel holder, washable sponges, cloth bowl and plate covers, cloth snack and food storage bags, stainless steel food containers and organic shampoo bars.
Elana and four women in the Juptier area who sew inter homes make most of the fabric items with material up cycled from interior designers.
One World-Zero Waste also offers in-house formulas of organic insect repellent, dishwashing liquid and laundry detergent.
"Weigh and Pay" Food is Popular
A large part of the business is selling such "weigh and pay" organic bulk foods as beans, rice, pasta, olive and other oils, organic dried fruits, nuts, seeds, granola, vinegars, spices, herbs, teas and organic essential oils such as lavender and cloves.
Customers bring their own jars or purchase a jar or cloth bag and buy the quantities they need by the ounce, whether they're purchasing cinnamon, oats, superfood powders such as pea protein or maca root, nut milks or nut butters blended in the store, kombucha on tap or cleansers.
"Everybody is interested in something here, pretty much. A lot of people do the whole deal, the food and the replacements for plastic," said Stephen, a yoga instructor and former high school English teacher and Florida Atlantic University graduate.
"Living zero waste is also connected to living a healthy lifestyle for yourself. You tend to eat better because there are more whole foods involved, and they's more personal work involved," Stephen said.
Ending the use of plastic straws is just the beginning of zero-waste living, Elana said.
Photos of turtles with straws stuck in their nostrils have been widely circulated, and spurred calls for an end to plastic straws. But the oceans and landfills are burdened with other polluting plastics.
"Every turtle has not been stabbed by a straw, but every turtle has plastic in their stomach," Elana said.
Goal is Preserving Natural Resources
"The zero-waste movement isn't just about going plastic-free, but about preserving natural resources. using a cloth instead of a paper towel isn't just about the plastic packaging, but about preventing deforestation," Elana said.
James Miller, spokesman for the Florida Retail Federation, said One World-Zero Waste is similar to other stores that have opened around the stat such as Life Unplastic in Gainesville.
"These stores are part of a larger trend we're seeing more of, which is consumers wanting their retailer/business to embrace sustainability throughout their culture," Miller said.
"This trend was started by, and continues to be driven mostly by, millennials who are comprising a bigger share of the overall spending," Miller said.
Sustainability practices are a marketing tool to attract customers of all ages, Miller said. Trader Joe's and Aldo, for example, are focused on reducing plastic and using recyclable, reusable and sustainable packaging.
Not Seeking Government Bans
While some businesses are voluntarily cutting back on plastic bags, plastic straws and Styrofoam, they do not want it to be government-mandated, Miller said. Outright bans can can increase costs and lead to less eco-friendly choices such as paper bags, which wile they may be bio-degrade once discarded, produce more carbon emissions during manufacturing.
"That's why it's important to change consumer's mindset rather than the material. Stores like One Worl- Zero Waste are showing different ways to change your lifestyle," Miller said.
The Smiths began selling products at the Green Markets in Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach prior to opening the store, and those venues are a big part of their business from April through October.
Many items are also available on their website, www.oneworld-zerowaste.com
Their parents, Nina and Jerry Smith and Bari and Phil Axelband, all of Jupiter Farms, have pitched in, assisting with tasks from building out the interior t running the store.
Bari, an artist, has hand painted some of the fabric items and "plantable" greeting cards embedded with wildflower seeds.
On a busy August morning, customers such as Sagi Brodt of Tequesta are coming in with bottles and jars to be refilled.
A Life-Changing Store
"I really like the spices," Brodt said. "When I buy spices in the grocery stores, it is too much, and I end up throwing them away."
"The store has changed my life," said Brodt, who has purchased such items as cutlery set, a shopping bag, an iPad case made of cork and a dish scrubber made from coconut husks.
Brodt especially likes the "Monthly Munchie," a snack food exchange once a month at the store. Customers bring their recipes and favorite snacks to share.
The Smiths chose Tequesta for its small business-friendly atmosphere. Now they hope to open a second store and are considering West Palm Beach. They are passionate about reducing waste and enjoy sharing their knowledge.
"If your body is not in contact with plastic, you are not getting those plastic molecules inside yourself. You're protecting yourself from all the diseases that could go along with that," Stephen said. "You are taking care of the world, which is a place that you are living, so you are taking care of your own home."