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I’m the kind of person who experiences emotional distress when I forget to bring my travel mug to a coffee house. The sight of steaming, double-cupped or jacketed beverages elicits guilt and frustration, and I cringe when I see customers grab a straw, stir stick—plus wads of paper napkins.
It was with great relief that I learned I’m not the only one who can’t abide the overuse and abuse of so-called convenience trash. In September, Crested Butte–based “social entrepreneurship company” Zoetica launched a line of stylish, reusable kits, totes and shopping bags stocked with items like coffee cups, organic cotton napkins, cutlery, straws, and nesting food storage containers designed for everyday use.
“I’m appalled, every day, by the amount of plastic trash our culture generates, and I used to struggle to do something about it,” says Karen Hoskins, Zoetica co-founder, and owner and president of Crested Butte’s acclaimed Montanya Distillers. “[Zoetica co-founders Elizabeth Smith and Jen Brody] and I spent eight months figuring out reliable ways to refuse single-use trash all day, everywhere. Zoetica became our way to share our systems so others won’t have to puzzle through like we did.”
Think the dishwashing and laundry generated by reusables aren’t worth it? Consider these statistics: According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, Americans toss away 30 million tons of plastic a year, “only eight-percent of which gets recycled.” Even your kid’s lunch might be the problem: Environmental Protection Agency research states that, “Each disposable school lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year…one average-sized middle school creates over 40,000 pounds of lunch waste a year.”
“We’re bringing twelve very cool companies along with us as we grow, some of which are women-owned and Colorado-based,” Smith says. “Our mission is to bring their products together so they function as a system in the most compact, lightweight, and stylish way.”
Upcoming variations on Zoetica’s line include the Warrior urban backpack and computer bag, a Sustainable Kitchen box that includes a biodegradable, compostable container to eliminate plastic wrap and other kitchen trash, and various Grocery and Event and Picnic systems, all available in an array of sizes and styles. To order, visit Zoeticalife.com.