Florida’s Zero Waste Revolution: Unveiling the Exciting World of Zero Waste Stores
Toothpaste tablets taken from a jar, maple syrup flowing from a spout, dishwasher powder purchased by the ladle: in Florida, bulk sales are gaining popularity.
At a zero waste store in Melbourne, customers bring their own plastic bags or containers to fill them with items sold without packaging.
Years after the rise of a similar movement in Europe, it is a new trend in the United States, and the concept is spreading to several large cities in the country. In the Melboune’s store, people even came to fill the packaging of their newspapers.
This type of store is necessary, experts say, to bring about a change in behavior in the largest economy on the planet. Americans produce on average 2.2 kg of waste per day, compared to 1.4 on average in Europe, according to official statistics.
The goal is to help everyone get closer to zero waste, often the first target is paper towels. Its abandonment can result in a significant drop in your daily waste.
Zero waste shops sell beans, oatmeal and other products in bulk from dispensers installed on the walls, alongside large cans of oil and vinegar. On the shelves are other curiosities: unpackaged bread and vegetables, contrary to custom in the United States. They try try to avoid exorbitant prices to keep these store accessible to all.
In the United States, less than a third of household waste (and 9% of plastics) is recycled or composted – compared to 49% in Europe. And on average, each American generates 130 kilos of plastic waste per year, compared to 43 kilos for the French. These statistics also push zero waste stores to ask its suppliers to use as little packaging as possible.
We will not get out of the plastic crisis through recycling, warns an expert of the organization Beyond Plastics, which fights against their pollution. She mentions the harmful effects of plastic on health: carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, etc.
Added to this is environmental pollution, with microplastic particles found everywhere on the planet, from the Mariana Trench to the summit of Everest – including human blood. Unlike aluminum and glass, for example, plastics cannot be recycled infinitely, as their structure degrades little by little.
Additionally, recycling many types of plastics is complex. This solution should only be used as a last resort, summarizes Shelie Miller, of the School for Environment and Sustainable Development at the University of Michigan. Recycling experts worry that too often people go straight to recycling without thinking about reduction and reuse. They warn that the actions of individuals or small shops will not be enough to disrupt the system.
Implementing such changes for a more sustainable future is a fully shared responsibility between businesses, authorities and waste managers.
Sobriety in consumption
In another zero waste store in the Melboune area, a shop owner pours liquid soap into a large container. The company sells many of its own cosmetics locally. They want to reuse as much as possible, because recycling still has a massive carbon footprint.
According to waste management experts at Melbourne Dumpster Rental Bros, buying in bulk has another environmental benefit: you only buy the quantities you need. Proof of the success of this type of store in Melbourne, a shop left the outdoor markets of its beginnings to set up in a real store. The model is profitable.
Maybe not as much as a packaging store, but it’s inevitable, we have no choice. “The sector must go through this.