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Hiking buddies Max Olshansky, Adam Bailey and Page Schult noticed that single-use plastics were the most frequently-spotted eyesores on trails and at campsites. Together, they devised an innovative method to cut down on littered food packaging, while looping in local producers in the process.
The concept is simple: Topanga Supply Corp. forges relationships with local vendors, supplying its stocks with bulk orders of dry goods, snacks — ones that rival the quality of mass-produced brands — and beverages. At their 707 Pico Blvd. packaging facility in Santa Monica, the trio will pack and pour those goods into jars, bottles and vessels made of stylish French glassware — Olshansky told What Now Los Angeles that “[they] wanted something that’s pretty and sexy and, more importantly, something that [someone] wouldn’t accidentally throw away.”
Clients using the service will order goods to be delivered directly to their homes. After they have poured the last of their milk into a cereal bowl or polished off their final kettle-cooked chip, they will notify the Topanga staff, who will recover what they call the “empties.” Then, the used containers will be commercially washed and sanitized at the Pico Blvd. facility to be re-filled and shipped out again.
“The idea kept coming back up over a series of events. The three of us spent a lot of time backpacking and camping together and our adage was ‘leave the campsite the way that we found it,'” said Schult. “Single-use food packing was the waste that we kept seeing… this is a problem that a lot of people were having and needed to be solved — we wanted to take a stab at it.”
Harkening to their inspiration for the project — their shared appreciation for the outdoors — the company is named for Topanga in the Santa Monica Mountains, one of their favorite destinations. Schult said that the meaning of the place’s name, “where the mountains meet the sea,” speaks to their mission.
As the team recruits vendors in preparation for their Spring launch, Olshansky said that they are stocking “habitual items” — “we need a reason to come and pick up the glass.”
“We already have an array of producers that have signed on and are super excited about the platform,” said Olshansky. “During this crazy pandemic, the amount of single-use plastics that have been consumed is pretty astounding and [our vendors] share a similar mission… in terms of how we choose them, it’s a lot of testing and seeing what kinds of products we like. talking to friends, seeing what people are buying.”
Eventually, he said, the company’s offerings may expand to produce, and their scope might expand into other locations in Southern California.
Those who are simultaneously environmentally conscious and clumsy need not worry — the company is developing a “very forgiving policy” for broken items. Clumsy herself, Schult said that although she has knocked a few of their tempered glass containers off tables onto the floor as the trio sets their service in motion, none have broken thus far.
“Our bigger concern is that people will want to keep the glassware, which is something that we will figure out a formal policy with that will include a charge eventually,” said Olshansky.
Those who are interested in participating in the Topanga Supply Corp. program upon its launch can visit the company’s website to join their mailing list and receive updates on their progress.