Did you know that only 14 percent of plastic packaging is recycled? We repeat: 14 percent. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that that means a majority of plastic is floating around our Earth (mainly, the oceans).
When Sara Metz, a pediatric occupational therapist, learned this statistic, her journey to fight the unfathomable amounts of packaging waste that enter our landfills every year began. Metz’s mission to combat plastic waste is made all the more admirable considering that 8.8 million tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year. In fact, a recent study found that as much as 80 percent of the trash that ends up in the oceans comes from land-based sources and nearly 90 percent of that is plastic. This puts nearly 700 marine species facing extinction due to the threat plastic poses to them from entanglement, pollution, and ingestion.
“I’ve become more and more aware of, and almost morally burdened by, the amount of waste we generate as humans and the role consumerism plays,” Metz told Co.Exist. “On a more personal and local level, I’m frustrated by the grocery options in my community. I enjoy cooking and trying new ingredients, but I’m limited by the fact that I’m buying for one person and have a kitchen with minimal storage.”
As she became more invested in fighting this problem, she drew up a business plan. Inspired by emerging zero-waste supermarket chains in Europe, she had the idea to open up a zero-waste shop in her own community of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. She named it The Fillery, with the mission of “[improving] the health of our community […] and the environment by offering alternatives to the plastic entombed, chemical laden options which are ubiquitous in both pantries and landfills worldwide.”
“We recognize that we cannot replace everything within a regular grocery store—and we don’t aim to,” Metz told Co.Exist. “That’s actually part of the point—there is so much excess in a regular grocery store, which is a big contributor to both food and packaging waste.”
According to her Kickstarter page, The Fillery will combat plastic waste by “offering food in bins and dispensers, we eliminate the problem of unnecessary packaging. This also allows customers to purchase only what they need – addressing the problem of food waste. It enables people to try new things without committing to a large container of something that might go unused. By buying only what you need from bulk bins, you can help reduce the insane amount of food we waste each year.”
This, in turn, will lead not only to a smaller plastic footprint but will also improve community health. Much of the produce will be organic, and nothing will contain artificial ingredients. The Fillery will also work with CSAs (community supported agriculture) to provide fresh produce from regional farms. Aside from fresh produce, the store’s main products will be bulk dry goods like grains, nuts, seeds, coffee, tea, spices, oils and more.
You’re Ready To Shop Waste-Free. What Else Can You Do?
While efforts are being made to remove debris from the oceans, improve recycling systems, and innovate barriers to prevent plastic from getting into waterways, we can all take action in our daily lives to stop plastic waste at the source.
“Plastic is ubiquitous in modern society and seemingly unavoidable. But is it worth risking the lives of marine species, the health of the oceans and our own future in the name of convenience? By taking steps to minimize everyday plastics in our lives, we can crush plastic at the source and give marine life a fighting chance,” says Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of One Green Planet.
If we all make an effort to identify where we use plastic and actively look for alternatives, we can drastically cut down on the amount of plastic pollution that finds its way into the oceans.
As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, One Green Planet believes that reducing everyday plastics from our lives is not about giving up anything or sacrificing convenience, but rather learning to reap the maximum benefit from the items you use every day while having the minimum impact.
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