Zoetica: Kits for a Waste Free Life
At Montanya Distillers, we’ve never been content to solely make rum, although we are pretty obsessed with that. We want to be a force for good and support projects and initiatives that improve our community and steward the environment. Along those lines, we support two of our own social entrepreneurship companies, one of which is Zoetica. (The other is Ganesha Stove Project - stay tuned for more on that another day.)
Zoetica offers consumers functional, stylish products, kits and systems to avoid single-use trash, especially plastic, all day every day.
Montanya Distillers founder and owner Karen Hoskin started Zoetica with a friend, Elizabeth Smith, after the 2016 election. They felt like everything they cared about was under siege and they wanted to find a way to make a difference. But starting a nonprofit, which they considered, required development of structure and organization, managing a Board, and potentially not spending enough time influencing consumer behavior.
Around the same time, they were deeply examining (and changing) their personal habits around single use trash—things like to-go cups for coffee or smoothies, take-away containers for lunch or leftovers, and plastic grocery bags in the produce department. Items that are so commonplace in everyday life they’re almost invisible (just look at the uproar over that Starbucks cup that made its way into the final take of a Game of Thrones scene!). And yet they create an almost unimaginable amount of waste.
A Few (Not So) Fun Facts:
· 50% of the plastic used in the United States is used once and then thrown away.
· Americans discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year, and only 8 percent gets recycled. 2.5 MILLION plastic bottles are discarded every hour.
· And there are over five trillion pieces of plastic, weighing more than 250,000 tons, floating in our oceans.
Eliminating single-use trash is one thing everyone can do every single day to make an impact in their own lives—without having to wait for politicians to pass laws or ordinances. Karen and Elizabeth speak often about how they may not be able to solve every problem at once, or even deal with some of the biggest offenders, but they can affect their own actions and behaviors every day. If everyone followed suit, the impact would be staggeringly positive.
Before Karen and Elizabeth knew it, they had designed a kit that they could keep in their cars or tuck into their purses or computer totes to use on the go. They had no intention of selling the kits or creating a business, but people took notice and wanted to know where they could find their own.
Zoetica was born—a name the team created from the word zoetic, which means pertaining to life, vital, or living. As Karen sees it, if you have a dying plant and then bring it back to life through proper care, that is zoetic. She and Elizabeth see a direct parallel to the degradation of the planet and the efforts that people can make to turn that around.
It’s an ethos that was already in play at Montanya Distillers, where we were working on eliminating trash and single-use waste from day to day operations. Plastic straws have been eliminated in favor of metal (which, it turns out, are a great conversation starter in the tasting room, leading to all kinds of great discussions about eliminating waste). There are no throwaway cups at either of Montanya’s facilities, and the company only hosts zero-waste events nationally. Now we’re in the process of acquiring a bio-digester to help us manage any food waste, and have a goal to eliminate all landfill-bound waste by 2020.
So it’s been a natural fit for Montanya Distillers to support Zoetica behind the scenes, from website management and space for the showroom in the Montanya office to helping spread the word. Nothing makes us happier than seeing staff or Montanya Rum fans with reusable cups, reusable to-go containers and other items (in fact, it’s required for staff when traveling for company business). Any brand will do, even homemade, but of course it’s extra fun when they’re from Zoetica.