From a few pretzels plastic topped over a small container of hummus to the shrink wrapped muffin carried from the coffee shop, we like our individualized snacks and meals on the go. Tossing kids a drink box or a squeezable yogurt on the way to sports or dance practice is a common habit. And enjoying produce items from far away all sealed in plastic may be a healthy choice for us – but not for our oceans.
Walk the aisles of any grocery store and the colors, sparkle, logos, messages and subtle advertising compel us to choose this brand over that, to expand the reach (and profits) of an industrialized food system. These strategies can even [persuade us to purchase more than we really need. We wouldn’t purposely create food waste but it is happening more often through marketing persuasion in the grocery aisle. It has given multinational conglomerates with large marketing budgets an advantage over small and local producers. There is hope and change in the air, particularly among younger consumers. A trend is bubbling from demand that can support our choice to shop more locally and to make “blue life” choices. One option is the “zero waste” grocery store.
Zero-packaging stores, also known as zero-waste grocery stores, allow customers to bring and refill their own containers. They offer food products (cereals, pasta, oils) and even household products (soap, dishwashing and cleaning products). You simply bring your own jars and containers and buy as little or as much as you need. As you NEED! Re-assessing actual need is another great habit that springs from this new trend. A new mindset.
These stores can already be found in many countries across the world. They are more than just individual trading businesses making a small difference. They are part of an important and growing trend promoting an environmentally sustainable “reuse” mentality. Their way of doing business shows we can change our take, make, use and throw away mentality. I remember “helping” my mother-in-law clean her house one day in the late 1960’s. She had all sorts of washed and organized jars and boxes in the laundry room. They took up a lot of space in her small hone – so I “organized” by tossing them out and freeing up storage space. Needless to say this frugal and wise 1950’s homemaker was NOT pleased.
She did not go the “Tupperware” route. She used and re-used as a way of life. I learned many important lessons in that experience. Her habits would easily allow her to jump onto the trend for zero packaging stores – and save money in the process.
Zero-packaging stores encourage sourcing locally. Because of that, they can play an important role in enhancing local economy and supporting local producers. They can help break globalized agribusiness monopolies, regenerating the diversity of rural enterprises and communities.
Next steps: Be Blue, Like Zane Schweitzer
Not all of packaging is wasteful. It can stop food spoiling, for example, and enables us to enjoy foods not locally produced. But what is driving the growth of the global food packaging market – expected to be worth $411.3 billion by 2025 – is rising demand for single-serve and portable food packs due to “lifestyle changes”. Most of us recognize these are not lifestyle changes for the better; they are the result of us spending more time working or commuting, and eating more processed and unhealthier food.
Zero-packaging stores show, in their own small way, a viable and healthier alternative to the current system. Both for ourselves, local economies and the planet. The next time you are snacking or enjoying a meal on the go, take a thoughtful assessment of how packaging and plastic are part of that choice.
Very few of us get to live a life that is truly in harmony with the natural world. Imagine conquering a sport that requires working in tandem with the wild and unpredictable ocean, while honoring your family, inspiring your community, and, writing an entertaining and inspiring book, Beneath the Surface. That’s Zane Kekoa Schweitzer.
Besides being a 2x Ultimate Waterman champion, ECO Ambassador, and Instagram star, Zane Kekoa Schweitzer is a world traveler whose experiences living an unconventional, uncompromised life. Zane expalins some habits, “I eat whole food plant based so I like to start my day with a smoothie or oatmeal before heading out to the beach or before starting my day of adventures and exercises. I keep a strict diet that is mostly vegan/whole food plant based and am consistently doing all I can do grow mentally and physically. With a jam packed training schedule and travel calendar it’s hard to keep up with my eating, nutrition and basic health needs. Whenever I can I prepare my own food and pack a lunchbox to keep up with my InZane lifestyle. Whether it’s slamming in my muscle nutrition after a training session because I have to run straight to my next task on my list of things to do for the day, or whether I prefer to skip airplane food for a healthy meal replacement bar like Redd– I never compromise on what I use to fuel my body, my life!” Picture on right: Zane grabbing a Redd bar snack after a water session.
Zane “walks the talk” by constantly cleaning up beaches and inspiring others to do the same. He shares, “My biggest concern is not being able to share the ocean, reef, fish and nature as I know it with my children one day. Knowing that the future generations may very well not have the opportunity to experience nature as I did makes me feel grief.. In my lifetime alone I am seeing the coral reefs change, from places I’ve traveled as a young child to this day and even right in my backyard at home in Maui- The reefs are fading away and its life light dimming, including its inhabitants along with it. This is my biggest concern, losing parts of nature forever because of choices we make for convenience- losing parts of our environment and even ecosystems along with the loss of entire species.
What I can do to fight these problems starts with living a life grateful for nature and being present t- being a surfer and waterman my whole life has helped me to create a bond with the ocean and nature- then finding a way to share that feeling of appreciation and consciousness with others, shedding light upon the issues to enlighten the people I come across and inspire them to find the courage within themselves to make a change, to follow their dreams and accomplish them- not just for the benefit of themselves, but for the benefit of their loved ones and environment around them.. We all have goals and dreams, and we all have the choice to choose what dreams to pursue, what is the right choice, what is the rightful path to pursue? The path and the goals in which benefit not only yourself, but those in which uplift the people and environment around you.