The ReTreat Culture

Hi, I'm Zsuzsi, I'm making the ReTreat products. This is my story:

I've been on the zero waste journey for a long time, but about a year ago, in February 2020, I made a commitment to buy nothing again in plastic or other disposable packaging. This has been super difficult. The world is not set up to live without plastic. But I was so overwhelmed with all the trash coming into our house that I just had to say ENOUGH. So how did ReTreat start?

Although the shelves in the supermarket are flooded with chocolate, there was none that I wanted to buy. To me, they were the same, the wraps are garbage, they are too sweet and I couldn't find one with carob which was my go-to treat for my children. So I started making them myself (along with all the other things that I've been already making at home) and they were really delicious. My friends and family loved them, so I took on the challenge: Can I show the world that it is possible to sell tasty treats in zero waste packaging? This wasn't easy to figure out. I spent hours and hours on researching sustainable packaging options, and to be honest I'm still doing that.:)

The ReTreat Culture

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Photo by @ryonlane

The ReTreat Culture

Hi, I'm Zsuzsi, I'm making the ReTreat products. This is my story:

Reduce - Reuse - ReTreat™ is a small chocolate business based in Portland, OR.

I started this business in February 2021, when I realized that I cannot find any

chocolate that comes in returnable packaging. As our family lives as low waste

as possible, we try to refill and reuse everything. I get all our cleaning and

skincare products from refill businesses, we use our own containers and mugs when we get take out or we use GoBox, we make our own plant-based milk, etc. (Of course, we’re nowhere perfect, ignore that disposable coffee cup sitting in my garbage can, when yesterday I was desperate to get a latte, and I didn’t have my own mug).

 

So I researched and researched low waste options for chocolate. It seemed like in a city like Portland there must be something. But I couldn’t find a good source. So I first decided to give up chocolate all together, but my husband just kept buying bars. So then I decided to make it myself. Eventually I’ve practiced enough that I started giving it to friends and family and they loved it. I enjoyed the process and the science of it, and decided to turn it into a business. I’m not sure exactly how I got from making it for our family to starting a business, but somehow it happened. My friends encouraged me and really believed in me and I’m so grateful for their support. Big shoutout here to Kelly Rogers Warner at Noon In June Studio (@nooninjunestudio)!!

As I eat dairy-free and health(ish), I also wanted something that was plant-based, didn’t have refined sugar as I avoid that as much as possible and was NOT TOO SWEET. Also had no soy and gluten, and no weird stuff.

 

So here is what ReTreat is, and how ReTreat is trying to create something sustainable but also delicious. Made for those, that have no time and energy to make everything on their own but like to take a break and enjoy what the world has to offer:

 

ReTreat's packaging is zero waste. Single use plastic packaging has had a detrimental effect on our earth's ecosystem. Your chocolates and truffles will come in an aluminum container. This can be returned and reused. Please, please return them!! These tins are resistant to corrosion, so they can be washed and sanitized over and over again. Aluminum is lightweight and durable. If your tin has a dent or damaged, you can still return it, I will recycle it for you. Also, the paper liner at the bottom is compostable.

Individual chocolate bars are wrapped in lotka paper. It is sustainably made in Nepal by rural craftspeople. Please compost the paper. Some wrappers are seeded, please plant those for our pollinators (there will be a little note that tells you if it's seeded and what the planting

process is).

ReTreat's ingredients are locally sourced whenever possible. I believe that supporting local farmers is crucial to environmental sustainability. Even if it costs more to get these ingredients, it worths it for our planet and economy. Imported ingredients are ethically made and fair trade.

The dark chocolates are sweetened with maple sugar or coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is a low-glycemic sweetener, made by evaporating the sap of the coconut tree. The sap is then boiled to evaporate most of its water content. (Lower glycemic index = less drastic rise in blood sugar levels). Maple sugar is made from the sap of the maple tree, just like maple syrup, but without water. (I also use maple syrup). They both have a lower glycemic index than cane sugar and are full of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. In comparison, maple sugar has a higher GI than coconut sugar, but it has more health benefits... The reason why I tend to use maple sugar more is because it can be sourced domestically, directly from a farm. Getting coconut sugar is trickier, it's usually sourced from

distributors and it travels a long way to get here.

The white chocolates are made with powdered coconut milk and sweetened with

monkfruit sweetener. Monkfruit is a fruit, native to China. The sweetener is made

from the juice of the fruit. It contains zero calories per serving and it's also a zero

glycemic index sweetener, suitable for people on the keto diet and also for most

people with diabetes (but please check with your doctor first). It has no strong

aftertaste. However, please note that Lakanto monkfruit sweetener contains

erythritol as well as monkfruit extract. Erythritol is a type of carbohydrate called

a sugar alcohol. It has a glycemic index of only 1, and zero calories per gram. It is safe

for people with diabetes.

I use organic ingredients (however, I do choose small and local over corporate

certified organic). Organic is better for our health but also the environment.

Organic farming protects pollinators, keeps the soil healthy and keeps our food

nutrient rich.

And what about the cacao itself? That is of course the most important ingredient. I use only fair trade cacao, sourced from farms using sustainable methods, from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Guatemala. I traveled to Guatemala in Spring 2022 and visited the farms where the cacao is grown and the Mayan indigenous collectives where it is prepared. It was an amazing experience. The Guatemalan cacao I use is pure ceremonial cacao, which means the cacao is fermented in small batches, toasted over wood fire and hand peeled.

The sea salt I use is produced by Jacobsen Salt Co. The salt is harvested from the waters of Netarts Bay on the Oregon Coast.

Decoration: I'm against anything artificial, so I choose not to use artificial colorings, edible glitter or dusting powder, etc. Not even natural flavorings. What is that anyway? I use only ingredients you understand and you would likely have in your own kitchen. So my chocolates look simple. My colors come from real stuff, like dried and ground fruits, tea, spices such as turmeric, etc. 

Do you have any questions, suggestions or feedback? Please message me, I love hearing from you all!

I've been on the zero waste journey for a long time, but in February 2020, I made a commitment to buy nothing again in plastic or other disposable packaging. This has been super difficult. The world is not set up to live without plastic. But I was so overwhelmed with all the trash coming into our house that I just had to say ENOUGH. So how did ReTreat start?​ 

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