Tables for brushing teeth fall into the tub. A stream of honey flows out of the faucet. Dishwashing powder crunches when picked up when metal is injected. This is what everyday products sound like when they leave their plastic packaging
At Mason & Greens in Washington, he doesn’t have a bunch of points. The philosophy of this house of products is zero waste by developing sales and bulk, a trend that is spreading across the United States.
Customers fill their containers when the item arrives in bulk. Also, “there are people who make envelopes where the leaves come out,” Anna Marino, 34, the owner of the store, told AFP.
Resources like this are an example of what experts believe is a necessary change in culture in the world’s biggest consumer economies, where the average person generates 2.2 kilos of waste a day.
Marino says the goal is to help anyone from novice to expert transition into less wasteful routines. “Giving paper towels was one of the first things my family did, and it meant a significant reduction in the amount of waste we generate each week,” says Marino, who co-founded the store with her husband.
Reusable cloth “paper” towels are just one of the products she now sells in her store, where beans and peas are also bought through wall dispensers. There are metal containers with oil and vinegar, and shelves with artisan bread, as well as lion and vegan.
Less than a third of municipal solid waste in the United States was collected for recycling or composting in 2018, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and only 9% of plastic material was recycled.
For this reason, Marino asks his suppliers to send their items packed in compostable material or with minimal packaging.
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– First ‘reduce and reuse’-
“We can’t escape the plastic crisis with recycling,” says Jenny Gitlitz of the activist group Ultra Plastics.
He claims that the toxins in plastic are carcinogenic, cause genetic changes or are hormone disrupting agents.
Microplastics have been found in almost every environment from the sea to Mount Everest, and in the human body inside the lungs and blood.
Unlike aluminum and glass, plastic can only be recycled a few times before its biopolymers break down. In fact, many types of plastic are not even recyclable.
“If all else fails, recycle,” summarizes Shelie Miller, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Environment and Sustainability.
“I think people often jump right into recycling and forget to bring back and reuse,” he told AFP.
Miler warns that the problems of plastic can be solved if only a few will be changed to consume it.
Creating a sustainable future “is really a whole community responsibility model,” involving corporations, governments and waste managers, he said.
– ‘And we didn’t ask’ –
Rini Saha, co-owner of FullFillery, another Washington-area bulk store, hopes to move from the bottom up: “Returning still leaves a huge carbon footprint,” the 46-year-old told AFP.
Saha and his colleagues do personal care and clean work in the same store.
In addition to the benefit of not using packaging, Professor Miller says bulk sales improve the environment by helping consumers get only the amount they need.
After three years of existence, FullFillery left the farmer’s market to become a full stock of products that were friendly to the environment and to the limit of packaging.
Similarly, the location of Mason & Greens in Washington, which opened its doors only in September, is the result of expansion after the success of the first store in another suburb.
Saha interprets the model as “useful”. “I don’t think it’s such a good business, but I inevitably feel like I’m not selected. So this business should be.”