"Waste not, want not. The less we waste, the less we lack in the future."

For almost forty years residents of Geneva, New York frequented their local health food store “Mother Earth Natural Foods”. Owned by my cousin Cynthia Bowen, Mother Earth wasn’t just a health food store. It became a local watering hole, a safe place, and a family. I worked at Mother Earth for seven years. When Cindy decided to close the store and retire it took a toll on all of us, most especially her sister Melinda who had managed the store for many years. Together they watched our customers grow older, children grow up, and generations come and go.

In the weeks leading up to our final day, I began to think about what Mother Earth meant to Geneva. Yes, it was a staple for the community, but more practically speaking, it was one of the few shops of it’s kind within an hour radius. As a resident of Geneva, I didn’t want to lose such a place. Neither did the city of Geneva. The last few weeks were a parade of difficult and tearful goodbyes.

A few weeks before our last day, inspiration struck. It started as a little sprout of an idea. The more I turned it over in my mind the more sure I became. I scribbled a few notes down on some scraps of paper, and Waste Not began to take shape. I took my scrap paper home and pitched my idea to my husband.

Located in the heart of downtown, The Waste Not Shop is one of the Finger Lakes’ first low-waste health food stores. This means we offer products ranging from bulk food and home care, to hygiene and supplements. Each product is carefully chosen with our environment and customers in mind, right down to the packaging. At Waste Not, we endeavor to change the way we relate to products we consume every day. Our goal is to provide healthy, low waste products, education, and community organization to positively impact our local environment and community.

My parents taught me we need to be good stewards of what we have. To me, that includes the environment we live in. Feelings of fear and helplessness are prevalent when we consider our planet’s health these days. We all know it’s a pressing issue. Waste Not is a place to fight those feelings and make a positive impact. Our choices effect our planet everyday, and I want to encourage and welcome everyone who is looking to make a positive change. Whether you have been plastic free for years, or you are buying your first reusable straw, you will be welcomed as part of the team at The Waste Not Shop.

February 07, 2020 — Marilla Gonzalez