Life Unplastic, Gainesville: The World is Full of Too Much Plastic
Life Unplastic, in Gainesville’s Thornebrook Village, offers a wide range of products for daily living from washable/reusable sponges to locally crafted shampoo bars. they also have a growing list of “refillable” items at a bulk/refill bar that can eliminate packaging altogether for common cleaning supplies, personal care items, pet treats, loose leaf teas, beans, herbs, spices and oils/vinegars. Owner Joy Hughes says, “Life Unplastic is a low-waste space for here and there (or everywhere!) in your life. Until changes come to pass up the waste stream, the average consumer can only fight pollution one purchase at a time by rejecting the notion that everything we buy must be overpackaged and/or wrapped in non-biodegradable petroleum-based plastic.”
Furthermore, she poses a surprising approach to the problem. “Plastic is toxic and it is forever and largely, it can’t be (or isn’t) recycled. Recycling is not the answer, reduction is. Even when recycled, plastic uses up more resources; and in the long run, will still end up in the landfill or plaguing our environment for many generations. Life Unplastic is about providing eco-friendly and sustainable choices that otherwise aren’t accessible or convenient.”
Hughes, who graduated from the University of Florida in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in finance, owns two restaurants in Alachua County with her husband: Loosey’s, in downtown Gainesville, and Headwaters, in High Springs. She relates, “I opened the shop in December 2018 after three-ish years of my own journey towards a low-waste life and realizing that although solutions were plentiful, a large portion of what I was interested in was not available in a centralized location, and only available to purchase online. I realized there is a massive plastic problem and that largely the problem is not being talked about. I started to realize that I wasn’t alone in my frustrations, and that’s when I made the leap from dream to execution.”
Her imperative is clear. “I think people are starting to get a sense of how dire the situation has become and want to evolve their consumption habits. And I think we get so many return customers that turn into regulars because when they do commit to evolving their consumption habits, they start to realize that living a low=waste lifestyle saves tons of money, and the intersection with minimalism eases stressful, cluttered situations at home. I also try to make it as convenient and accessible as possible with free delivery and contactless pickup, as well as in-store shopping hours.”
Life Unplastic recently expanded into a permanent pop-up at a shared vendor market in DeLand called The Table Pantry + Provisions. “The selection is smaller, but I am open to working out a delivery option for anyone in that area that would like to shop the webstore.” She says. Around 80 percent of the products are made in the U.S. and 20 percent are local to Florida and Gainesville.
Contactless pickup is available. “Once you are on your way, please give the store a call and we will place your order outside on our pick-up shelf,” says Hughes. “If you have any empty jars to donate, you may leave them there as well”
Life Unplastic is located at 2441 NW 43rd St., Ste, 24B-1, in Gainesville. For more information, call 352-225-3116 or visit LifeUnplastic.com.