More Flavor, Less Trash

Austin’s Clara Serrano is a young woman who sometimes seems to have spent her childhood in the early 1900s. Living on a five-acre farm in upstate New York in a family of 18 Colombian immigrants—yes, 16 kids—she learned the arts of intensive farming, dairy-goat management and using what you have. The rewards, she remembers, were bountiful. What there wasn’t a lot of was trash. The message stuck.

“I’ve always had one trash can on the curb when my neighbors had five,” she says. “I’ve always wanted a zero carbon footprint.”

She’s getting very, very close. A few months ago, while still working full time as an electrical engineer, Serrano started IgnaFire Chocolates, where she produces boutique chocolates inspired by her many trips to Oaxaca. Just as delicious is her commitment to what she calls “trashless packaging.”

From the cellophane lining to the printed insert to the outer mailer, everything is 100 percent recyclable, and often compostable. And then there are the boxes—little works of art made of agave pulp and colored with natural pigments made from prickly pear cacti. These, too, are designed to go harmlessly back to the earth—though they’re more likely to be reused as gift boxes, or just beautiful containers you can’t seem to throw away.

Which, as Clara Serrano is happy to point out, you shouldn’t do anyway.

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