Plastic free July and beyond

Plastic is slowly coming off the menu thanks to some logic, ingenuity and conversations with our suppliers, many of whom have responded with sustainable solutions.

Wow! Since the last blog busting takeaway disposable cup myths, more customers than ever before are presenting at our café with their own reusable cup! Good on everyone who has made the shift. If you haven’t yet – pop in and I’ll sell you a KeepCup. Or if you’re thrifty, bring your old-fashioned cup from home or hit the op-shop. Every disposable cup we keep from landfill makes a difference.

I said I wouldn’t rant about recycling and redcycle… But you, my customers, have hit me up with some great questions…

Hey Eric, why are you using plastic vegemite portions? Why do you still have plastic straws?’

So here are the things we are doing in our little space to lessen the café’s environmental impact.

Plastic is slowly coming off the menu thanks to some logic, ingenuity, and conversations with our suppliers, many of whom have responded with sustainable solutions.  Thanks Shaun, Michelle and Clark Fletcher, you do an amazing job listening to what your customers want and responding with the environmentally-friendly packaging solutions our industry needs to reduce its waste to landfill.  For local deliveries Nufruit collect any polystyrene or waxed boxes they use for deliveries to us.  A small but simple change.  Jack Herry also picks up these waxed boxes and uses them when required.

Straws. Ours are biodegradable in 30 days. We are also trialling stainless steel straws, let’s see how they go. Easier yet - just say no if you don’t want a straw. Milkshake mustaches are all the rage, anyway.

Portion control spreads are now in a jar.  Etiquette is that you use one knife to spoon the amount you need onto your plate. Put that knife beside the jar and then use your own knife to spread the jam onto your toast.  Sharing isn’t caring in the condiment world and people who are gluten-free don’t want your wheat crumbs on their toast.

Oil spray. We have ditched the Realease cans and have a super-manual sprayer - how easy was that change!

Gladwrap/clingfilm is gone. Hello bread bags! We’re working on bio gladwrap, so watch this space.

Plastic bags are so yesterday. We now use brown grocery bags and to me, it feels like I’ve gone back to my childhood in Yea.

Chook buckets. Yep, our chooks love the green waste from the café! Since chooks have come back into our lives nowhere near as much waste goes in the green waste bins. There is even a competition between my apprentice and I as to who gets to take the scraps home.

Coffee grinds. These go in buckets in the back courtyard where customers collect them for their gardens.  That’s about eight to ten litres of grinds each day going to local compost. Imagine if all cafés in Wang did this! They’re also good for your skin but I’ll leave that enterprise to Lauren and Ruby ;-) 

Green waste. Food-soiled paper napkins, cardboard and paper, stock bones and any scraps that our chooks won’t eat all go into the green waste bin. Polystyrene boxes go back to Nufruit to use again, and wax cardboard is saved for a customer who collects it for their own business.

We’ve also embraced the redcycle program.  This means four bins in the kitchen and our staff now make a real effort to separate plastics to be sent on for recycling. With all these extra containers you’d reckon space would be an issue but we’ve actually reduced our overall rubbish. It’s also less messy given food waste goes to the chooks so we’ve stopped using garbage bags in our bins. You'll see a Hessian coffee sack in the Courtyard.  It's for our Redcycle bags.  If you can't make it to Coles or the transfer station then pop your Redcycle in ours.

There’s one remaining challenge – newspapers! We’d have to go digital to remove these but, honestly who doesn’t love sitting back with a cuppa and reading the news? They’re recyclable anyway so it’s not a big concern. Maybe one day we could provide Ipads with digital subscriptions for customers to use? What do you think, would that add or take away some of the café experience?

It seems like a lot of changes, but we’ve made them coz it’s right.  Now it’s your turn, and I’m challenging you to do three things:

  1. Bring your reusable cup next time you’re in to buy a takeaway coffee.
  2. Next time you buy a muffin or salad in a takeaway container, be sure to put the waste into the right recycling or green waste bin.
  3. Next time you pass the Council offices, pop in and ask them where the green waste bins are along Wangaratta’s streets (or email them). Much of our effort is lost if our compostable packaging ends up in the general waste bin.

See you soon at the café! When you pop in, let us know what efforts you’re making to be sustainable at home. Together we can reduce, reuse, recycle and reap the rewards.