It’s easy to place convenience before healthy and sustainable choices, foregoing environmentally-friendly products for cheaper, disposable ones. Seppi and Shawna Morris of Living Pantry, a new Blaine business, will not only sell sustainable products but hope to educate customers on the impacts their choices have on their health and on the environment.
“We had this idea that we wanted to create a space where we could inspire ourselves and other people to do better,” Shawna Morris said.
Living Pantry, at 684 Peace Portal Drive, has everything from household products, such as shampoo and laundry detergent, to bulk food items like granola and herbs. Each item is made of natural materials without chemicals and dyes while most of the food is organic and made without additives. Living Pantry intends to provide locally sourced products whenever possible and the owners encourage customers to bring their own clean and dry, reusable containers to fill.
The couple had the idea for creating the “refill market and zero-waste living resource center” 15 years ago after discovering a passion for natural, whole foods. Shawna Morris has a background in occupational therapy while Seppi Morris studied pre-medicine, ecology, biochemistry and food science. Together they made their dream a reality when they finalized plans to open Living Pantry earlier this year and held the grand opening on September 5.
Though some products may be more expensive than at the local supermarket, Seppi Morris explained that mass-produced products come with non-monetary costs such as negative health and environmental impacts. For example, 8 million metric tons of disposable plastics end up in the ocean each year, according to oceanconservancy.org, while processed foods can negatively affect our health.
“You’re paying for the product here and not the packaging or the branding that comes with it,” Seppi Morris said.
Though Living Pantry is a business, the couple said they don’t look at it that way. To them, education is more important than selling their products. Seppi Morris said they hope to support their customers in learning about how their choices affect what’s going into the environment as well as their bodies.
However, the two also believe that whether you already live a zero-waste lifestyle or don’t have knowledge of sustainability, all customers are welcome. To them, “compassionate commerce,” a term near to their hearts, means creating an experience where customers feel valued. Seppi and Shawna Morris said whether their customers buy something or not, they care about their experience.
“You can create a business, you can put products on a shelf and sell things, but we wanted to do something with a much deeper intention,” Shawna Morris said. “We can’t hug each other now, we can’t even see each other’s smiles, but we can treat each other really well.”
In the future, as their business grows, the two hope to create written materials about sustainability both in the environment and in our bodies. They also would like to hold workshops, furthering the education piece of their business. But for now Seppi and Shawna Morris said they will continue to educate customers through word-of-mouth and create a friendly environment in which customers feel welcomed.
To learn more about Living Pantry, visit livingpantry.com.