For this year's Small Business Saturday I asked my friends, Elana and Stephen Smith, at One World- Zero Waste if they would be willing to interview with me. If you have been following along with my plastic-free Thursdays on Instagram, you know they have been featured many times, especially when I was first starting out. I was learning the basics, and have been sharing everything with you as I continue to learn, but it really all started for me there.
When I went into One World-Zero Waste for the first time, I told Elana I was participating in plastic-free June and July and needed some supplies to quickly switch over. You all know by now that I’m kind of extreme, and I meant it when I said I was not going to use plastic at all for those months. I remember her saying something to the effect of, “I don’t understand this concept, because it’s as if you can avoid it for a whole month and then go back? It’s hard work, and after a year, we still have a couple of things we need to get rid of to be completely waste-free in our lives.”
It was an eye opener. I realize now, after trying it “all in”, that it was naive of me to think that I could do it all at once. I learned so much from trying, and am now just focusing on a couple things at a time. Neither of them showed any judgement or surprise at my questions and ignorance when it came to living waste-free. They are so full of compassion and eager to help.
If I'm being completely honest, It's more than a little embarrassing that I have been promoting ocean conservation since I started this painting series 7 years ago, and am just now seeing what kind of difference I can make just by changing my daily habits. With their help and putting each aspect of our life under a microscope, my family and I are moving in a positive direction!
For this interview, I wanted to get deeper into some things they haven't already shared about in all of their other publications. The Jupiter area has been so lucky to have them, and it hasn't gone unnoticed by the media! Check out some of the other articles if you want to hear more about how they got started and why.
Hi, Elana! Thanks so much for interviewing with me today!
Do you remember one of my visits, when I was stuck on how to freeze fish without plastic bags? I still can't really get past that, but lately I’m feeling more satisfied with plant based recipes and the wider impact that it can have on conservation. I have always been a fan of catching what we will eat that day for dinner, and lately we’ve decided that if it’s a good day on the boat catching lots of fish, then we just need to invite more people over to share! Tell us about how being Vegan, even just some of the time, can have an impact on our conservation efforts.
Eating more plant based foods definitely has an environmental impact. It’s mainly about big agriculture, and I firmly believe if meat is right for your body, supporting local farmers (or fishing) is the way to go! The reason factory livestock farming is a no go is due to the massive toll it takes on the Earth. Rainforests and other ecosystems are cleared everyday to make room for livestock as well as the food to feed them. This is causing deforestation, erosion, lack of bio diversity and so many other imbalances. The huge numbers of animals being raised, butchered, packaged and shipped, is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and is one of the top emitters of greenhouse gasses.
This kind of farming also uses about 20-30% of water consumption world wide! In plenty of other parts of the world, humans don’t even get enough clean water and food to live. Never before has the Earth had so many people to feed, but if we change our diets and how we shop for our food, I believe we can change the face and future of the Earth.
I read in one of your interviews that you aren’t as interested in banning the bag as you are changing people’s mindset, can you share more about that?
Well for the record, I am definitely 100% in support of banning plastic bags, there is no reason for companies to still be making them and for stores to be buying them. We seem to be one of the last countries to ban them, and are especially very behind here in Florida. It’s completely out of control and it’s embarrassing to live in paradise and see plastic bags blowing in the wind over the A1A bridge and floating down into the inlet and out to sea. I see it every day, no matter where I’m driving. One the other hand, plastic pollution is a much larger problem, and so deeply intertwined in most major large companies and products being produced and thrown in our hands. If consumers' mindset changed to see this plastic pollution clearly, there’s no way they would still want all this plastic (right?)!
We have the power to vote with our dollar, at the very least. If large bans and government enforced changes don't happen, we need to step up to the plate. I hope dearly that we can help the collective consciousness shift to see that we can make our own decisions and lead cleaner lives. For example, if no one bought bottled water anymore, stores would stay stocked, warehouses would fill up, and production would stop. How great would that be!?
What is your code of ethics when choosing items for your store? I notice you don’t have apparel, and I wonder if it’s because it just encourages more buying? Having to sell items to make a living, but not wanting to contribute to waste is such a tough spot. I’m feeling it with my own artwork. I want my paintings to be small editions so that people feel more value in them. Whether the value ever grows or not, they know they can’t just find this piece again when the edition is over, and feel a need to hold onto it, or maybe gift it, instead of tossing it when they move or downsize. I am also trying hard to have my leggings made from one of the companies working with recycled plastic and fabric.
Yes, you're exactly right, zero waste living is all about reducing and reusing, so we are extra careful to have a collection of items and products in One World that we find essential in our day to day lives. My system is simple, we only carry products that replace single use items. Everything else can be thrifted (theoretically). This thought process, plus our bulk foods and soaps, is what makes our store so approachable and easy to drastically reduce your waste.
Through our personal zero waste journey, we stock our store with items that we feel is integral to our lives. It’s also a priority for us that what we carry and sell is making as small of a carbon footprint as possible. So we make as much as we can ourselves, or buy from other local crafters and businesses we love, cutting down on the carbon footprint of travel while also supporting the local economy and getting products from people we actually know and trust. Aside from those practices, we also do business with other eco-friendly companies who are dedicated to positive shipping and handling practices as much as possible.
We absolutely love thrift shopping for apparel and furniture! If we had the space, we would love to showcase some beautiful, repurposed, vintage items and clothes. But alas, we can’t fit it all. There are some great thrift stores in town that we not only shop at, we personally always donate our unwanted items, rather than just put it out on the curb. I’m also known to snag some great pieces from my lovely neighbors’ trash ; )
Love your Monthly Munchies and Snack Food events. What has been the response from the community? It's so cool that all of your ideas stem from your desire to educate the public. Sharing snacks is something people could start with in their own neighborhood or friends!
I love the Snack Food Exchange too! This comes from a selfish place...I love snacking! And I am practicing the first of the 5 Rs to zero waste living, REFUSING trash. So I don’t buy any packaged foods. And as everyone knows, “standard” snacks are almost always packaged. So what’s the solution? Because a world without snack food is not a world I want to live in!
This whole snack food exchange, like all zero waste living in general, is so much easier and better with community support! That’s why we gather together once a month to support each other and grow stronger and closer together through sharing food (SNACKFOOD)!
So how does the Snack Food Exchange work?
Think of something you either still buy packaged, or really really miss buying and enjoying… And try to make it! My first stop is of course pinterest (you’re welcome to follow me on there to see all the stuff I’ve pinned). Everyone brings their creations with the recipe and we come together for a snack food extravaganza! We all snack, share, and take home the leftovers to enjoy until the next snack food exchange. My hope is that together we can accomplish zero waste living in the tastiest way possible.
I am also compiling a book of recipes that our amazing customers, family, and myself are bringing in during the exchanges! It’s free to anyone who comes into the store to look through and take pictures of. Sharing is caring : D
What other events do you have coming up, and what are some on the horizon that you have been thinking about?
We have awesome and fun events all of the time!
First of all, our 1 year Anniversary is December 7th! We will be hiding a bunch of 20% off coupons all around the store so if you find one, you’ll get some discounts!
December 9th is a Kundalini Meditation class, to connect to the Earth and yourself, re energize and de stress! We fully believe we are one with the Earth, and taking the time to connect is so important.
December 14th is our holiday themed Snack Food Exchange, cookie edition! I’ll be making peppermint patties and/or ginger snaps. This will be the 4th snack food exchange that we’ve held and so our One World Snack Food Recipe Book is starting to come together.
For the new year we have some great events right off the bat.
January 4th is our third Build A Worm Composting bin with Let it Rot. Leave with a fully functional worm composting bin complete with 500 worms.
January 7th Is a very special event, an Evening With Bea Johnson! She is the “mother of zero waste living” and wrote the book Zero Waste Home. She is known for implementing/ creating the 5 Rs I mentioned earlier. Refuse, reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot. Through practicing all 5, she has reduced her and her family’s trash to only a pint a year! She travels the world helping people do the same, and this is our chance to meet this amazing woman.
I can't wait for that event, and to meet Bea! I already bought my ticket!
I also read you might open a store in West Palm Beach?!!
We are definitely on the look out to expand. Nothing is settled or set in stone but we’ve set that intention and it is on the horizon for the future. It’s exciting but also a little scary to think about so we’re going to keep moving forward in the right direction with expansion as our goal because zero waste shopping should be easy for everyone, and we love making it happen!
What advice do you have for people that don’t shop themselves anymore. During season I use Amazon Prime when we get cramped on time and it is not plastic-free at all. I have been emailing them to use more reusable items we can just pay a deposit for, but haven’t heard back from anyone… What do you say when people complain about lack of time stopping them from improving?
It’s all about what you want to be a priority in your life. If you are in the practice of being mindful in your shopping and in your living, overtime I believe that you will begin to feel the importance of continuing that practice, and you will start to not feel so much in alignment if you deviate from that practice. Like everything else we do, we can’t all be perfect all the time and we can slip into old, unhealthy habits. However, the more you practice good living, the more natural it feels to continue and the more unnatural those old habits feel. For example, now that we have gotten in the habit of reusing cloth fabrics for tissues, it just feels weird if we ever get stuck using a single use tissue. This is just because we’ve developed a regular habit of throwing our tissues in the washing machine instead of the garbage can. So the more in tune with your healthy living practices that you get, the more quickly and effectively you’ll keep your good rhythm when you recognize and feel yourself getting caught up in the seemingly overwhelming stress of life (or the holidays which we all feel!).
So in other words, there is always time in your life for whatever you make time for. But you need to make mindful living that is healthy for you and the planet one of your priorities! And if you value yourself and your priorities (which you absolutely deserve and should!), in the long run you’re going to spend less “time cramped” shopping and more of that conscious shopping.
In addition, you can buy SO many things online from companies that DO make more environmentally friendly shipping a priority! So I also highly suggest looking for companies that do just that. Ask your friends who also share your feelings and practices for recommendations on conscious businesses. Ask people in groups that you belong to that are involved in zero waste and other environmentally friendly practices. Become part of the conversation, share what you feel and like, and learn from others as well! That is how this whole thing is going to become easier, more innovative, and better and better!
Thank you so much! I completely agree with finding time for things that are a priority. I'm so grateful for you both, and for all of the good influence and education that you are spreading in our South Florida community, and I am looking forward to seeing what the future brings for you two. Keep up the great work!
If anyone wants to visit the store, or get in contact with One World-Zero Waste, here is all the information you need below. Thanks for reading, and supporting another year of small businesses that focus on bringing awareness to ocean conservation. Check out the previous interviews in the blog if you enjoyed this one and want to hear about some more!
354 S. Cypress Drive Unit 1 Tequesta Florida