Foodie

November 1, 2020

Miami’s Most Sustainable Café Just

Got More Sustainable

If you haven’t been to Under the Mango Tree in South Beach, you’re missing out on superfood smoothie bowls, amazing plant-based empanadas, homemade nut-milk elixirs, and the kindest staff of people –right up there with Trader Joe’s (yes, they’re that nice). Oh, and it’s a 100% woman-owned business. That’s pretty darn cool, too.

Photo Courtesy of Under The Mango Tree @underthemangotreemiami

It’s also a café that you’d probably want to live in if you could; As you walk in, you’re immediately standing under, yes, a mango tree that’s planted in the middle of the natural wood-lined café. Okay, the “mango tree” may or may not be a large Ficus, but we like to let our imagination run wild. On the right you have shelves of items from local artists and vendors, and across the room you’ll see a colorful chalkboard menu that’s oh so hard to choose from (they even have a grain-free granola topping for the smoothie bowls). And if you havebeen the Under the Mango Tree…then you know exactly what I’m talking about and have probably been nodding your head in agreement throughout this entire written visualization of the store.

Photo Courtesy of Under The Mango Tree @underthemangotreemiami

But if you haven’t visited in the past few weeks, you might notice something different when you walk in. As you glance to the right upon entering, it’s hard to miss the entire wall of filled bulk bins that have been put in place by the owner, Patty Oleson. Fun fact, they were actually a gift from her husband so that she could embark on a new creative journey in the store amongst everything happening with COVID! Why give a girl flowers when you can help her spread more sustainability, right?

I interviewed Patty about her beautiful new bins, which range from having staple ingredients like quinoa and oats to coconut shavings and granola. Her personal favorites are almonds and rice, just because she uses them so much with her family of four.

According to Patty, there are a lot of reasons people should buy in bulk. What she boils it down to is to not be so comfortable all of the time. “It’s easy to buy single-use packaged products in stores, but the truth is that it doesn’t have to be that way”, says Patty. She says that if you have the opportunity to be better, go after it. It’s not about being the most sustainable, but to be sustainable where you can be. To her, the small changes make the biggest difference.

“If you have the opportunity to be better, go after it”

The truth is that buying in bulk actually saves you time and money. People want to go to the grocery store even less now with the pandemic, and buying in bulk is more cost effective, time-effective, and sustainable. Win-win-win.

And some other ways the café practices sustainability? Well, the bulk bins were only an addition to the already long list of how this café has been doing good for the community and environment. They make an effort to promote local artists and vendors, buy local produce, use easily biodegradable cups over plant-made plastic, sell biodegradable toothbrushes, and even shampoo / conditioner bars (just think about how many bottles of shampoo you’ve thrown out in your life!).

Under the Mango Tree owner Patty Olseon, Photo Courtesy of Rod Deal @roddeal

The café has also paired up with local organizations such as Surf Rider to organize beach clean ups, and Compost for Life to give their compost to local gardens.

So, what inspired the new shiny bins? Well, while her bins are shiny and new, this certainly isn’t a new dream. It was 6 years ago that Patty was taking out the garbage and realized just how much waste could accumulate in as little as a few days. And the worst part was that it was mostly single-use containers for common items from the grocery store. She knew there had to be a way around this. Patty decided to research how people combat this issue and found that places like Germany and Australia were using bulk bins, something not very widespread at the time.

Pictured here: smoothie from Under the Mango Tree using only paper straws (no plastic ever!) / Photo Courtesy of Under the Mango Tree @underthemangotreemiami

Fast forward 6 years and bulk bins are not only more common today in the U.S., but you can now find them in your local sustainable café, Under the Mango Tree. If you enjoy supporting local small businesses, saving money on bulk items, and maybe picking up a smoothie bowl or vegan empanada along the way, this will be your one-stop-shop for that.

Patty’s last remarks in the interview were that she’s been very fortunate throughout the years to have great people working at the shop and surrounding her such as her family and friends. They constantly inspire her and help her to grow.

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