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Zero-waste packaging market to climb to nearly $2.5 billion by 2033

"Fill Jars, not landfills" -- tote bag from Marilla's Mindful Supplies in Rochester
Marilla's Mindful Supplies
Marilla's Mindful Supplies / Marilla Gonzalez
Consumers eager to lighten their ecological load will soon have more options for low-waste products. Pictured here is a reusable bag sold at Marilla's Mindful Supplies in Rochester.

Those looking to diminish their environmental impact will soon find a lot more plastic-free products on store shelves.

A recent study from market research firm Future Market Insights reports that from 2018 to 2022, this environmental industry grew by nearly 6%. By the close of last year, the market value stood at $985 million.

For Marilla Gonzalez, owner of the Geneva- and Rochester-based low-waste shop Marilla’s Mindful Supplies, this growing interest is a “silver lining” consequence of the pandemic.

“Even if you didn't live near a dump or landfill, you were seeing disposable masks all over the ground," said Gonzalez. "You were seeing the consequences of some of this throwaway culture up close and personal. snd I just think that with a slowdown, people were able to examine their habits a little bit. And I think that played a part in it, but also, we have seen a lot of crazy climate activity in the last few years.”

For Gonzalez, who grew up near Seneca Meadows — a massive landfill in Waterloo, NY — being part of the zero-waste movement is deeply personal.

“As I grew up, the landfill also grew up. And being a part of the health food industry, we saw a lot of protests and outreach about the landfill situation, and it's a complicated issue,” she said. “But something that wasn't complicated for me was thinking, okay, I could send less to this place, and I could reduce what I'm contributing to this and reduce my dependency on a place like this.”

The market report forecasts that the no-waste market will soar to close to $2.5 billion within the next decade.

“There's a light bulb that's going off, and that's beautiful to see,” she said.

Jasmin Singer (she/they) is WXXI's Weekend Edition host. She's also the author of "The VegNews Guide to Being a Fabulous Vegan" and "Always Too Much and Never Enough." She's the co-host of the "Our Hen House" podcast. After living in New York City for nearly 20 years, then trying out West Hollywood for size, Jasmin and her wife are climate refugees who found their way to Rochester.