Martin County teen opens JAR: The Zero Waste Shop to help others live eco-friendly lifestyle

STUART, Fla. - A local teen is doing her part to help more people live a waste-free lifestyle.

Many students are getting ready to head to college in a matter of weeks, but Martin County’s 18-year-old Brandi Kneip cashed in her college fund and has opened her own business.

JAR: The Zero Waste Shop, located in Stuart, is stocked with various creative household items, organic foods, and eco-friendly products.

It’s a display of many things she uses in her daily life to live waste free and help protect the environment.

It has been her lifelong passion to protect the environment. “I used to pick up trash off the beach all the time with my mom,” Kneip said.

But, she realized that the beach clean up was only a band-aid on a much bigger problem.

She wanted to do more and got some of her friends on board.

“We all decided to convert to zero waste,” Kneip said.

When she graduated high school this past spring, heading to college or working for another company just didn’t seem like the right fit.

“I’ve had a few jobs before this and I just knew I wanted to be my own boss,” Kneip said.

One evening, she came up with the idea for exactly what she wanted to do. She was cooking for a zero-waste dinner party.

“I was in my kitchen one day, and I was cooking for my mom and some friends. I had dumped a package of noodles into a container,” aiming to keep plastic out of the picture. “I was like, this is so bad, I was trying to hide that I used plastic, when the reality is, we can’t find noodles without plastic [packaging]. I was like I should embrace on that and take that somewhere.”

So she decided she’d invest in a zero waste store in Stuart, and at the perfect time. A nationwide push for several major companies to eliminate plastic straws and other wasteful materials is gaining traction.

“Everybody’s doing it and it’s really cool,” Kneip said.

She’s stocked up on almost anything you’d need to live a completely eco-friendly life.

Her shelves are lined with items like natural shampoos, soaps, dog shampoo, detergent, plates and utensils, and consignment clothing and jewelry.

She has an entire wall of dry, organic foods, like her most popular: Chocolate-covered coconut bites.

Even eco-friendly toilet paper and food wrap are available, along with glass and bamboo straws or toothbrushes.

“There’s an alternative for everything,” Kneip said.

She’s a young entrepreneur, sharing her knowledge, and hoping to make a difference in her community.

She’s also the fourth entrepreneur in her family.

Her advice to start living a zero waste life? Start simple. Some of the easiest items to stop using immediately, she says, are plastic straws, plastic bags, and plastic cutlery.

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