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UP CLOSE: Green Goddess Natural Foods wants to go plastic-free in its markets

January 25, 2019
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Green Goddess Natural Foods co-owner Tammy Loewy recently traveled to the British Virgin Islands, a place she's been a few times. On her latest trip, she noticed the disturbed coral reef. It wasn't as vibrant as it once was, she thought. The sight made an impact on her day-to-day feelings about where plastics and garbage are going.

"We absolutely consider the environment to be one of the main reasons we're in this business," Loewy said of the store at 2051 Saranac Avenue in Lake Placid. "There's really a need for businesses and customers to take initiative with the green and blue movements."

On Jan. 10, the local organic grocery store posted to its Facebook page a link to a story about a plastic-free zone in a British supermarket. The story highlights how the Thornton Budgens grocery store in Belsize Park, London, converted more than 1,700 product lines to non-plastic packaging in the summer and fall of 2018. Workers there want the store to be "virtually plastic-free" within three years.

Article Photos

While the Green Goddess Natural Foods in Lake Placid offers plastic bags to carry bulk items, co-owner Tammy Loewy shows they can be carried in reusable jars, too, on Tuesday, Jan. 22. Loewy says she and her coworkers are trying to eliminate most plastic packages and introduce more green initiatives to the store in the next few months.
(News photo — Griffin Kelly)

"Who wants to see Green Goddess go plastic free?" the post said. "Think we could do it? Don't forget to bring your reusable bag in when you come shop!"

The post garnered nearly 100 likes and positive comments from a dozen customers.

Lisa McDonald Meissner of Saranac Lake commented, "Yes - plastic free!"

Christina Fraizer of Lake Placid wrote, "OMG, YES!!!"

Loewy said the article piqued her interest, but unbeknownst to her, it was actually Green Goddess's social media manager who posted it. She sees it as a form of encouragement, though.

"Now because we said it and people reacted so positively to it, we have to do it," Loewy said.

"Plastic-free" doesn't mean the entire store would not have plastic; rather, there would be a strong effort to reduce plastic consumption. Produce is easy enough because, for the most part, it comes unpacked. However, some still choose to carry produce in single-use plastic bags.

Even items like meat, poultry, fish and cheeses, which traditionally come in plastic, can instead get wrapped in paper.

Loewy said going plastic-free would be a dual effort by the store and its customers and that many patrons are just as environmentally conscious as the business.

The bulk section, for example, is where people can purchase loose items such as tea, coffee, candy, spices, grains and nuts. There are plastic bags if people need them, but Loewy said many people tend to bring their own containers.

"Right now we are looking at the ways that we offer plastic for our produce or for our bulk," she said, "and we're seeing if we can switch over predominantly to something that's reusable - glass, cotton bags, mesh bags - things of that nature that our customers will also have be on board with to bring back time after time, lessening our plastic impact.

"We'll have some people even come in with their little spice bottles and shakers and fill those up," she said.

In Lake Placid, reducing plastic is not just a goal sought after by Green Goddess. Recently, the Hannaford and Price Chopper supermarkets in the village started charging 5 cents per for plastic and paper single-use bags at checkout. Also, in an effort to reduce plastic bag pollution, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently proposed banning single-use plastic bags in his 2019-20 State of the State budget book. Multiple retailers in Lake Placid such as The Bookstore Plus and Ruthie's Run clothing shop said they agree with the governor's proposal. Cities such as Seattle, Boston and Austin have banned single-use plastic bags, and so did the state of California.

Loewy said she wants Green Goddess's eco-friendly initiatives to not be a challenge or a burden for customers. Small changes can make a big difference.

For example, the store offers hot coffee, tea and kombucha to stay and to go, and customers can either drink out of mugs or single-use paper cups, which sit on shelves by the dispensers. She noticed many people using the paper cups even if they were staying. To curtail paper cup use, the store just had to make one little adjustment.

"We moved the mugs to the lower shelf and closer to reach, and now more people are using those, which can be washed instead of thrown out," Loewy said.

Because it would be a new business model, Loewy said there might be some financial challenges going plastic-free. Paper bags and packages normally cost more than plastic ones.

"Some initial costs may be hard to swallow, so we'll do it in increments so that we can sustain it," she said. "I think that's an important part of it that we want to be green but we want to be sustainable as a business as well as we don't want to incur too many costs that we'll have to pass on to our customers. We want to make eating green and eating well still something that people can afford to do."

Green Goddess Natural Foods operates a market and Scape Cafe & Deli at the Saranac Avenue location, the Green Goddess Market on Main at 2419 Main St. and the Nordic Cafe concession at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Cross-Country Ski Center.



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