I have been wanting to write about the disconnect between health food and consciousness of packaging for a while, but after an interaction I had today and a conversation I had recently, I’m going to be more optimistic and acknowledge a shift that I see happening instead!
Today we were closed, but I was at the restaurant juicing some limes when I saw one of our loyal customers at the door. She had peered in and saw that we were closed, but was reading a flyer on our window so I walked out to say hi and chat for a second. She only wanted to buy a dessert and a tropsicle which is totally something I’m happy to do even if we aren’t open. I went to grab her dessert from the fridge and she said she would go grab her stainless steel Moku Roots container from her car to take the mango swirl “cheesecake” to-go. We got to talking about the containers and she mentioned having been at the grocery store the other day and really wanted to buy micro greens as she always had, but now seeing all of the plastic associated with one small serving of micro greens made her decide to opt out from buying them all together.
Plastic laden health foods don’t stop at micro greens unfortunately. The conversation I had a few weeks ago with one the girls who works with us, and I would consider her to be one of the most all-around conscious people that I know, was one of the first times that it became really clear to me that we are truly making a difference in shifting people’s opinions with our policies regarding plastics and single use containers. Her “Aha moment” was that she had been at the grocery store as well buying some things to make salad with her roommate, which would have included cherry tomatoes. Albeit delicious, and arguably more delicious than larger tomatoes, they are unfortunately always in some kind of stupid little plastic containers, so she chose to buy something that would have preferred slightly less based on taste, for the sake of conserving plastic. That would be the first time she weighed packaging so heavily into her buying decisions, which previously had just included a preference for organic, local, and vegan.
Moku Roots is inspiring people to at the very least consider packaging when buying, and at the very best, influencing people to stop buying things in plastic or excess packaging all together.
And thats pretty fuckin’ cool.
I wish I had, but I have not always had the packaging surrounding the things I buy even in the perimeter of my consciousness. I used to be perfectly content sucking down a smoothie in a bioplastic cup, often referred to as “eco-cups” with a lid and a plastic straw because the contents were organic and I only cared about what I was putting into my body not what I was leaving in the environment around my body. It never really occurred to me that my organic smoothie was trashing the planet, that my “eco cup” was essentially plastic (even though I was totally an elitist judging everyone else who was using actual plastic), and when actual plastics were still recyclable in America, the eco-cup could arguably be worse than actual plastic because at least plastics could be recycled. There is very little infrastructure for dealing with bioplastics and there is even less information surrounding how long an “eco cup” takes to break down outside of an industrial compositing facility…(because SURPRISE, there aren’t any industrial composting facilities in at least 2500 miles and I have yet to find a single mainland commercial composting facility that accepts anything other than food scraps and green waste) but my research leads me to believe it takes somewhere between 300 years and forever for a bioplastic container to break down. So best case scenario, that cup that you used for 2 minutes because you just had to take that iced coffee to-go and you forgot to bring your own cup to put it in, is going to be exactly in the condition it is today for your great great great great great great great great grandkids to find when they’re playing on the beach. I would have never admitted this at the time either, but looking at it strictly from a landfill perspective, ordering a big mac would have probably been better for the planet since those are just wrapped in a thin sheet of paper. Most fast food surprisingly is wrapped in very little and truly backyard biodegradable packaging. I’m not advocating eating big macs I would never put that into my body, but its pretty ironic that Mcdonalds could be arguably better for the environment than your local organic take-out.
But enough about that, I wrote this wanting to focus on the positive shift I am seeing, and whether or not Moku Roots’ strict policies against single use to-go containers has any part in influencing Maui towards that shift is still up for debate, but I’m stoked either way!
So, tell your bartender no straw, sit down and drink that smoothie there instead of taking it to go, bring your own coffee cup, carry a container for leftovers when you go out to eat, and most importantly use your dollars to vote for less packaging with your purchases and we will all start to see the change I’m seeing now!