MIAMI – No matter where we go, the things we buy, eat and use more often than not come packaged in plastic.
And now our planet is drowning in it.
Every minute the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic is being dumped into the world’s oceans, and global plastic production is expected to triple in the next 30 years.
While environmentalists, scientists and world leaders scramble to find solutions to this growing crisis, a South Florida entrepreneur may have just come up with something that can help us all use a lot less plastic.
Ecopod is the brainchild of Miami real estate developer Henry Pino, who developed the new sustainable innovation to help us all reduce our plastic intake.
A kiosk found in select residential buildings and grocery stores dispenses liquid laundry detergents, cleaning products and even shampoos and soaps without the need for all that wasteful plastic, as the consumer uses the same container over and over again.
“Every day I wake up excited about this because I know that we’re going to make a positive change,” Pino says.
These kiosks, like the one at the Westchester Sedano’s on Bird Road and Southwest 87th Avenue, also make your purchase a lot cheaper, considering you’re only buying the product, not the plastic. For example, a 92-ounce Tide laundry detergent retails for $18.99.
“Our product is 100 ounces and we’re selling it here for $7.89 as a refill,” Pino points out.
That’s an $11 savings right there.
“It’s not complicated,” says Katie Martinez, Ecopod’s VP of marketing. “You lift the door, put your bottle in, press the button and you’re done.
“It’s a win-win by saving money and saving the planet at the same time.”
Ecopod has been at Farm Stores South Miami for almost two years and is a big hit with customers
“I like having a container where I can just refill the content and not have to keep using more and more plastic,” consumer Genevieve Jenkins says.
It goes a long way, because in the household products aisle of most stores, nearly everything comes packaged in plastic- containers that are rarely recycled.
“It never really goes away, and I think that’s what we’re starting to realize now,” says Caiti Waks, who founded the nonprofit Debris Free Oceans seven years ago. By 2050, scientists estimate that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight.”
Waks is on the front lines in the war against plastic pollution. The surfer-turned-activist has organized hundreds of cleanups and uses her platform to urge all of us to reduce our plastic consumption.
She says our everyday choices can make a huge difference — like not buying bottled water.
The truth is, less than 7% of what we think is recycled is actually recycled. So most of the bottles end up in landfills, or worse, in our oceans.
“Our public water is actually really safe to drink,” Waks says. “You got to just remember your bottle. This reusable bottle, I carry this around with me everywhere.”
Waks also carries her own reuseable canvas totes every time she goes shopping and never accepts plastic bags.
“They get caught in the wind. They blow right into our waterways,” she says. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Waks says Ecopod is a total game-changer.
“For someone like me who now has two babies under 2, I’m doing a ton of laundry, so I constantly have to get more laundry detergent and this great deal and no I don’t have to feel bad about using my laundry detergent,” she says. “Come on, how cool is this? It’s awesome I’m really, really stoked.”
Right now, the only name brands Ecopod dispenses are Tide and Downy, but more brands are coming. Most of the products available are under the Nuve brand and are eco-friendly and made here in Miami. Pino says they are just as good as the name brands and a lot more cost-effective.
Ecopod is in 24 locations in Miami-Dade County, but they also deliver anywhere in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.