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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 is the host of WXXI’s Weekend Edition and Environmental Connections, as well as a guest host for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Connections.