Nearly five years ago, I made the decision to quit practicing law and open an organic juice bar. This decision was born equally out of my desires (1) to adopt and live a healthier lifestyle and (2) to “be my own boss.” At the time, my level of environmental consciousness didn’t go much further than believing that global warming is real, not a hoax.
From day one, we bottled our juice in glass. Regardless of the pro-plastic talking points other juice companies make, it’s complete BS to try justify releasing more plastic bottles into our ecosystem, where they degrade and remain indefinitely, poisoning and massacring species at every link of the food chain. When making initial purchases for our first location where we’d start serving smoothies and soups, I quickly and easily decided to pay more for renewable and compostable plant-based plastic and paper disposables that won’t permanently scar our planet.
BUT - while I stand by and wouldn’t change anything about the decisions we’ve made as a company going all the way back to Day 1, I didn’t have the same sense of urgency for our planet’s future back then as I do today. Now, I realize that I am responsible - each and every one of us is - for helping lead humans out of our, to put it mildly, cringeworthy past and into a more mindful and conscious new Age of Enlightenment, where we think and act with an eye beyond ourselves and our species and our lifetimes.
If you aren’t yet terrified for what awaits us if we don’t radically and immediately change our ways, go watch a documentary like A Plastic Ocean. Watch dead baby seabirds have their bloated stomachs opened up to reveal hundreds of small plastic shards that their parents mistook for food and unwittingly fed them. Watch sea turtles that have accidentally ingested so much plastic as they hunt for real food that they can’t do anything in the water but float. Watch the last breaths of a giant whale that couldn’t help but consume all sorts of trash as it tried to strain the surface of the ocean for the krill and plankton its ancestors have survived on for millions of years.
There is no way to avoid these heartbreaking and chilling realities, and there is no way to avoid our species’ full and complete culpability for them. This isn’t a philosophical issue. This isn’t a political issue. This isn’t a debatable issue. As the most impactful producers and consumers, we are responsible for making the earth a better place for all beings. It is not an excuse to think or act as if one person’s actions are too insignificant to make a difference, because that’s the only place a global movement can start.
We’ve “enjoyed” the low cost of hyper-efficient and mass-produced food and food replacements for the last 50-60 years (to the tune of never-before-seen levels of disease, obesity, and health care costs). It’s time to get used to, and embrace, a new reality - one in which we share the cost of responsible food production and consumption. Demand more from your local growers, restaurants, and grocery stores. The food industry at-large won’t change until corporate profits have taken enough of a hit that they’re forced to adapt.
The plastic we all grew up with is deadly. The rise of “single-use” and “single-serve” packaging has proliferated this environmental and ecological crisis exponentially. What can you do? When you’re eating out or grocery shopping, choose food and drinks that are packaged, preferable in bulk, in renewable and low-impact materials (glass, paper, or compostable plant-based plastics). When “bad” plastic is unavoidable, make sure you dispose of it in a way that doesn’t ultimately leave it in a landfill en route to the oceans.
What will we do? We will continue to package our juices and smoothies in glass, paper, and compostable plastics, striving towards zero waste and zero negative impact. We will continue to educate ourselves and our customers alike, and work with local business and community leaders to implement compost programs and hopefully an eventual ban on plastic bottles and bags entirely. It’s just a start, but we have to start somewhere.
“With knowing comes caring, with caring comes change.” - Manuel Bustelo