10 Ways To Be More Environmentally Sustainable
The coronavirus crisis has made us all relook at our businesses from every angle. One of those being the environmental impact we have. There has never been a more critical time for companies to become more environmentally sustainable. Many rely on the health of the planet in ways we don’t even realise.
For the coffee industry especially, having a healthy planet is essential. With the launch of our newly designed, fully compostable packaging this month, we thought we’d ask our customers their top tips to being more environmentally focused.
Sustainable; “Understanding how to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their own needs.”
1. Ditch The Plastic
One of the most talked about concerns for the future of our environment is the impact of plastic. Studies by the United Nations suggest that, if current trends continue, the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050.
This issue has become such public knowledge that more and more people are aware of businesses that are contributing to this burgeoning plastic waste. There is also a sizable audience that will gravitate to any businesses that show a willingness to reduce their plastic output.
At Bristol Twenty Coffee, we strive to recycle and re-use whenever and wherever possible. We have phased out all single-use plastic cups, replacing them with compostable coffee cups.
As well as rolling out compostable coffee bags and boxes, our new labels are made from rice paper so will break down with the bag. We’ve even ditched plastic tape in favour of compostable brown tape.
2. Reduce and reuse – if all else fails, then recycle
The mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle” refers to the things we can do to lower our environmental impact – in order of priority. A lot of companies are emphasising their “100% recyclable” packaging as a way to look greener, but the fact is that only a small proportion of fully recyclable packaging is actually recycled in the end – even when you put it in the recycling bin.
The best thing you can do to be environmentally sustainable is to reduce consumption in the first place to avoid using the earth’s valuable resources for production of new things. For things you can’t reduce, opt for second-hand or reusable alternatives which minimise the need for more production and carbon emissions. Only when these aren’t viable options should you opt for recyclable things that are better than single-use products destined for landfill.
You can put those three priorities on a checklist and assess all the different things you need in your coffee shop – for instance food packaging, furniture, napkins and cutlery – to see where you can find better solutions.
And of course, dispose of rubbish responsibly in general waste, recycling or compost bins. If you can, order more specialised recycling bins available in your local area.
3. Use Sustainable Coffee
Where does your coffee come from? Did it cause deforestation? Is it grown sustainably and for a fair wage? A lot of coffee comes from unsustainable suppliers guilty of harming natural habitats by using harmful pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers. Coffee is in fact sprayed with more chemicals than any other edibles except for tobacco.
But you can make a difference by choosing environmentally sustainable brands. Look for certifications like Rainforest Alliance, UTZ or Fairtrade which all hold some of the highest environmental and ethical standards. We use as many certified farms as possible and if not possible we make sure that the standards implemented by these certifications are still up held.
4. Offer More Vegan And Vegetarian Options
One of the biggest ways an individual can be more environmentally sustainable and cut their carbon footprint and prevent deforestation is to reduce meat and dairy consumption, and many are eating less of it as a result. So why not offer more vegan or vegetarian options to customers?
Limiting fish in your food is also impactful, as overfishing is a huge problem leaving oceans depleted so the people who depend on seafood for survival are affected.
You don’t have to go full veggie-café if that’s too high a risk. With a few tasty meat and fish options and a wider range of irresistibly-looking vegan meals, your customers won’t complain. Also make sure there are several vegan milk options for your coffees.
5. Don’t Print Paper Receipts
An oft-forgotten environmental sinner is the humble paper.
Did you know that the shiny, no-ink receipts from card terminals and many receipt printers contain the harmful chemical BPA? It means you can’t recycle them, and they can cause a wide range of health problems with longterm exposure. Applicable to all types of paper receipts is, well, they are made of paper. Although not plastic, which we all know is bad, it comes from the very trees we need more of globally in order to curb carbon emissions and to be environmentally sustainable.
Fortunately, most cloud-based POS systems allow you to send digital receipts via email or text. In a coffee shop, most customers will not require a receipt anyway, but those who do can benefit from having a digital copy that won’t go lost in the washing or desk drawer.
6. Use Coffee Grounds As An Effective Fertiliser
Did you know that used coffee grounds that end up in landfill release methane, a far more damaging greenhouse gas than CO2, as they break down? When you imagine just how much coffee we brew internationally, it’s obvious the way we dispose of coffee grounds is not so trivial.
Instead of throwing the coffee in the bin or compost, you can give it people or local gardening groups tending to plants. Coffee is an excellent fertiliser that adds nutrients to depleted soil, attracts worms (good thing), supporting plant growth. You can just scatter it around the plants – even your potted ones in need of some TLC.
7. Assess Your Heating And Cooling Setup
You don’t want to put off customers by being too cold or too hot, so it’s important to have a certain temperature inside. But are your windows, doors and walls properly insulated? Can you let enough natural air in when needed to be more environmentally sustainable?
Using radiators less can slash your energy consumption, but if warm air is seeping out through doors or windows, there’s little hope of turning down the heater during cold weather. Also check if you have (or can get) double-glazed windows that are made for keeping in the heat.
Air conditioning is a saviour during hot summers, but they can actually exacerbate outdoor heating and obviously use energy. Use windows where possible to air indoor areas, use old-fashioned desktop fans, and only resort to air conditioning when really necessary.