Working Towards a Waste-Free Future: Part I

May 13, 2021
Image: @freaberlin

It’s no secret that the waste generated by restaurants is a huge contributor to global warming. But there are incentives for restaurants to cut down on the amount of waste they generate—and the rewards go beyond saving the planet. A recent study found that for every $1 restaurants invest in reducing waste, they save an average of $7 in return. This month, we’re highlighting a few businesses—and even one country—that have committed to helping the earth and their bottom line by reducing/eliminating the waste they generate.

Image: @drygoodsrefillery

There are many local businesses that are striving to do good. Dry Goods Refillery will become New Jersey’s first entirely waste-free grocery store when they open their second location in Montclair, New Jersey. Right now, they offer package-free, plastic-free, zero-waste shopping for bulk items like nuts, seeds, fruits, chocolates, flours, oils, beans, legumes, spices, cereals, and teas at their spot in Maplewood, New Jersey. They also use glass jars and bottles, tea tins, and organic cloth bags to house their products and promote a BYOC (bring your own container) policy which, as they write on their website, is “truly the way to repurpose, reuse and reduce waste.” This means customers weigh the containers they bring from home, fill them with their desired products, and then reweigh and pay. All dry goods bought online for curbside pick-up are delivered in 100% recycled bags, while liquids are packaged in glass jars—which can be returned for store credit. Order online or visit them in Maplewood, New Jersey to get your waste-free shopping on!

Image: @organickrush

Organic Krush is another local business focusing on lessening their waste. Last summer, the Surfrider Foundation awarded them a platinum-level Ocean Friendly Restaurant certification for their practices, which include using glass bottles, compostable cutlery and straws, paper cups, and paper to-go bags. They also serve customers who dine in with reusable plates and bowls. The community store Simple Bare Necessities offers package-free, low-waste, sustainable home essentials and groceries like artisanal soaps, beeswax, bamboo hairbrushes, and much more. And here at Ace Natural, we have a biodigester: an odorless, noiseless machine that quickly breaks down food and reduces our carbon footprint.

Image: @winniewow

Rhodora, located in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene, was founded with the mission of becoming the first no-waste wine bar in the U.S. The restaurant—which offers a selection of natural wine and side dishes like oysters and local cheese—doesn’t use any single-use plastic or send anything to the landfill. All items, including food, utensils, beverages, and more must be able to be recycled, upcycled, or composted after use. While Rhodora doesn’t have a trash can on the premises, they do have a composter, which transforms guests’ leftovers into fertilizer for The Brooklyn Grange.

Image: @freaberlin

Frea, a vegan restaurant located in Berlin, strives to create a dining atmosphere described on their website as, “holistic and combines enjoyment with sustainability by producing no waste.” In addition to offering plant-based, seasonal food, they don’t have any trash cans on the premises and everything they buy from producers and sell in their shop comes unpackaged and plastic-free. All food waste is recycled within a day by their composting machine. “Zero waste is possible, without sacrificing quality and variety,” says co-founder David J. Suchy in a video on their website.

Image: @mcmasterchef

The secret to Silo, a zero-waste restaurant in London, is that they only serve a set, six-course tasting menu. This means that nothing rots in the fridge, waiting to be served. They also churn their own butter, make their own flour with their flour mill, and make their own oat milk. As they write on their website, they “support a nose to tail ideology, meaning that if an animal dies for food we will maximise the whole beast, respectfully.” This ethos allows them to deliver delicious natural food (think leek hearts, blue cheese liquor, and smoked egg yolk) while demonstrating to others that it can be affordable to run a sustainable food business. They also serve their food on plates made from recycled plastic bags and project their menu onto the wall in order to avoid printing menus!

Image: @visit.southkorea

Individual restaurants aren’t the only ones striving for change. South Korea, which currently boasts a population of over 51 million and was responsible for generating over 17,000 tons of food waste per day in 2005, hopes to become a zero-waste society in the future. While they have been passing various forms of waste-limiting legislation since the 1980s, their most recent “pay-as-you-throw” legislation requires individuals to pay for discarded waste. This means that at the end of the day, citizens must place their waste in biodegradable bags that are then weighed and transformed into a corresponding bill. The legislation also bans people from tossing the liquid found at the bottom of garbage bags into the ocean.

Image: @silolondon

Looking forward, it seems clear that more businesses, individuals, and countries worldwide will decide to begin examining the amount of waste they generate and brainstorming ways to cut down. We’re excited to see the innovations and changes the next few years hold!

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