While many newlyweds spend their honeymoons exploring exotic beach destinations or bundling up fireside, born-and-raised Jupiter residents Elana and Stephen Smith opted to volunteer with migrant families living in India.
“We wanted to set the tone for our marriage,” Elana recalls of their two-week visit. “Helping others and trying to make a positive impact in the world, to us, is an important part of life, so we decided to seize the opportunity and volunteer somewhere we feel a spiritual connection to.”
When they arrived, the couple was surprised not only by the beauty of the country, but by the amount of trash and debris they passed—both roadside and mountainside.
“When we were in the Himalayas, we would gaze in wonder at the amazing views until we turned a corner and were bombarded by piles of trash,” Elana says.
“The garbage was wherever anybody left it,” Stephen adds. “That shined a big light on issues with trash worldwide; we might not see anything like that here, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem.”
Upon returning from their trip, the couple took their growing appreciation for the planet and in October 2018 turned it into an environmentally focused business venture: One World Zero Waste.
“We were motivated to make big changes in our lives and our community, so we got going on our store as soon as we returned and opened within three months,” Elana says.
The Tequesta storefront is a great resource for those hoping to eliminate excess waste from their homes; every item available for purchase is eco-friendly, and the edible goods are free of single-use plastics and other packaging. Shoppers can also bring clean containers to fill up with dozens of bulk food items, including spices, flours, nuts and dry pasta.
“Sometimes people come in and they’re not sure what they want to make, so we’ll end up coming up with an idea for dinner together,” Elana says of the bulk food-buying process, which is weight-based. “At the grocery store, it’s almost impossible to leave without trash. Bulk items end up being cheaper because you’re not paying for that packaging and the advertising on the label.”
The couple, who met as members of Jupiter High School’s band program, also stocks an extensive collection of homemade goods intended for zero-waste living, like reusable drinking straws, sandwich bags, coffee cups, and cloth diapers and napkins.
They get some fabrics from local interior designers who are getting rid of their sample books, so a lot of items are one of a kind, explains Elana, who along with her mother sews most of the store’s items.
Essential oils, plastic-free shampoo bars and toothpaste, local honey, nut milks, and kombucha on tap round out the inventory, with most non-perishable items able to be ordered online. (The couple also brings their items to the Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach green markets during season.)
While the Smiths hope to encourage their customers to embrace zero-waste living, they understand that most will need help on their journeys.
“We’re here for support, and we love to give people new ways they hadn’t thought of to limit the amount of trash they make,” says Stephen, who collects and composts food scraps and other materials for customers to reduce food waste. “[Americans] have a facility that takes [trash] away, but it really just piles up into a big heap. We have to look closer at how we manage waste.”
Zero-waste initiatives aside, the couple also brings individual skills to the business. Elana, who previously worked as a pastry chef and recipe creator, makes date bites, vegan cheeses and loose-leaf tea blends for customers. Stephen, a hot yoga instructor at two studios in Jupiter and Stuart, leads donation-based classes at the storefront. The outdoor enthusiast also knows that his love for Jupiter’s waterways is shared by One World Zero Waste visitors.
“When I was younger, I would be out on the river three or four times a week catching fish and enjoying nature,” Stephen says. “It’s important to me to allow everybody to do the things I was able to do. A lot of people who live here appreciate the beauty of our community and are probably excited to help preserve it.”