The Day – Opening of the zero waste market in Mystic

Mystical – For many people whose lifestyle consists of buying 15-ounce cans of beans, plastic spice containers, and shampoo bottles, the idea of ​​cutting down on waste can initially seem daunting.

But Mystic resident Jason Hine says it’s easy: People can walk into his little store and receive one-on-one help from him or his manager Deniz Kayhan, who said the store “aims to make it more. easy or more accessible, less overwhelming “.

The Ditty Bag, a zero waste market selling dry bulk food in addition to liquid refills and toiletries, opened on June 11 on Route 1 near the station.

“It kind of grew out of my concern for the planet. I’m worried about our clean water and air, and I’m worried about our carbon footprint,” Hine said. He knew he would feel better if he could do something full time about these issues.

Hine, 51, is no stranger to environmental activism and advocacy: he founded the popular progressive group Rise Up Mystic, is a member of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and was a member of the ad hoc committee on Stonington’s plastic bags and straws. Hine also noted that he was teaching racial and social injustice while working as an educator for Discovering Amistad, the non-profit organization that operates a replica of the 19th century ship that carried slaves.

He started a GoFundMe, which ended up raising $ 8,500, to open The Ditty Bag.

Hines explained that the store’s name comes from the duffel bags made from old sails and ropes. He said it suited Mystic “to have a symbol of maritime tradition and a symbol of a marine recycling program.”

Along one wall of the store are dry bulk goods; you can get beans for around $ 2.90 a pound or basmati rice for $ 3.29, for example. Other options include couscous, quinoa, lentils, and a variety of nuts, and on the opposite wall are bins of Frontier Co-op spices and teas.

The store sells jars but encourages people to bring their own containers. Liquid products that can be dispensed include laundry detergent, dish soap, and shampoo. Various toiletries are made with bamboo, such as bandages, toothbrushes, and toilet paper.

The Ditty Bag also sells dairy products from Terra Firma Farm in North Stonington, and customers can purchase a cup of Fair Trade coffee – which means producers get a fair wage – from Plainville-based Sun Coffee Roasters.

Hine said he “would give Fiddleheads a big thumbs up,” saying the New London Food Co-op is a great role model, albeit much bigger.

Building a community

In addition to being the store manager, Kayhan, 20, is a graduate of Ledyard High School. She has one semester left at the University of New Hampshire, where she is majoring in Political Science and International Affairs, with minors in Russian and Economics.

“I was really interested in other ways to affect these social and environmental issues rather than the legislative process,” Kayhan said, but additional legislation is also important.

At UNH, she became involved with Net Impact, which aims to get people thinking about the social and environmental factors of consumption, and she worked at the Freedom Café, which supports efforts to end trafficking. human being.

Hine said that in addition to being a place for people to shop, The Ditty Bag will host Zoom and in-store meetings to talk about environmental issues, and they plan to work with state and local lawmakers.

Kayhan said the community aspect could involve sending letters for a climate change resolution they wish to see passed, or talking about native Connecticut species. She said The Ditty Bag is planning a reunion for, hopefully in late July, as an introduction to who they are.

While large corporations are responsible for most of the world’s environmental problems, Kayhan said businesses are made up of people and change “starts locally, it starts individually”.

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Editor’s Note: The store is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. This information was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

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