A lot of people are not thinking about how and that their habits can influence the environment.
Most people are so used to straws and plastic cutlery because bars provide these even without asking for need. If we cant reach some of the customers, we need to reach people in shops, cafés, street food counters, markets, etc.
This is an invitation to all of the restaurant, coffee shop and food stall owner, you can do a huge impact by making small changes, mostly these changes will save you money too. And I know what I am talking about, because a few years ago, I´ve been a coffee shop owner too!
And I know some of you might think: why should I be responsible for that people can´t recycle properly or that people leave their rubbish behind on the beach! Your are not responsible for others behavior, but we are all responsible to treat our home/planet and resources right. We just don´t have a Planet B. And your choices can have a huge impact on our environment and life, so start today to become a hero for our ocean and our home.
It´s not a secret anymore that we got a huge plastic problem on our planet. Also our quick and easy fast food, take away culture is one of the reasons. Nowadays everything is in single use take away cups and single use containers. Single use spoons and forks. All used for a few minutes and then they last forever if they are not recycled properly. And here is the biggest problem: most of these things can´t even be recycled! The coffee cups have a plastic line to make it water proof. In most countries its ending and filling our landfills. I see plastic forks and spoons laying around on beaches and in parks because people just don´t care to clean up their own shit. Or straws taken by the wind, sounds so romantic but is a thread for all our wildlife.
And even the so called biodegradable plastic is only biodegradable in perfect compost conditions. So as long as plastic gets into our environment that easy, the only way to help is to reduce as much as possible.
In case you haven´t heard about the numbers: 8 million tons of plastic trash end up every year, in our beloved ocean!
So besides we need new laws, and bins with lids in our cities and all the countries worldwide, we also need to make changes ourselves.
So here is what you as a coffee shop, bar, restaurant, ice cream or smoothie shop, street food stall owner, can do:
Alternatives and Tipps for coffee shops and bars, street food, restaurants and take away business:
Are normally made of plastic, used for maybe 3 Minutes and then they last forever because they are not biodegradable. Mostly they land in our landfills and end up in the ocean easily where they can harm animals and pollute our water! In the US 500 million straws are used each day!
Also the stirring rods in the cocktails are totally unnecessary! These can easily be swapped with wooden sticks.
Here is what you can do:
- Provide paper straws or reusable straws for your customers, rather than plastic straws! (I have seen this in so many restaurants on Bali)
- Straws should only be available when its requested by a customer (that saves you money(!) and plastic trash), so many people are complained that they ordered: no straw please, and then they get two!! Uncool and unnecessary!
- Or maybe just get rid of straws in general.
- Swap the plastic stirring sticks with wooden sticks, and also just provide if customers want them. I
(more tipps for alternative straws: http://thelastplasticstraw.org/resources/)
Single use coffee cups, plastic cups:
I see this all the time, people want to drink the iced coffee in the Café and they get the drink in a plastic cup. They want a glass of tab water and get the water in a single use cup (also in the biggest coffee shop chains)! Really? Even if you order to stay in you cant avoid plastic cups in many coffee shops (plus the plastic straw). In the UK up to 7 million coffee cups are thrown away daily! And because the single use coffee cups are plastic film lined, they are rarely recyclable in most countries. So they end up in landfills and often in the ocean.
Here is what you can do:
- Make sure you have glasses for cold drinks if people want to drink in house!
- If you want to offer drinks to go, try to change to biodegradable plastic made of natural materials, this is not perfect, but a better solution for plastic waste going to landfills.
- Animate people to bring their own cup. Even offer them a discount for 10 cents or so, like Starbucks do. Because if more people bring their own cup, you will actually save money because you need to buy less single use plastic cups.
- Offer rentable reusable cups. They pay you a deposit, and get the deposit back when they bring the cup back, or they like to just keep the cup to refill it with every visit.
Single use plastic spoons, forks, knives, stirring rods, take away food container:
Again, those items are used for a couple minutes and last forever if made out of plastic. And I bet everyone of you has seen alternatives like paper plates, bamboo plates or banana leaf plates, same with cutlery made of wood, or biodegradable natural material plastic (easily compostable if you recycle properly, quicker degradable if they land in landfills, and easily to get burnt into energy).
The only thing you need to do:
- Ask and invite people to bring their own take away container and reusable cutlery.
- Avoid packing the single use food container into a single use plastic bag.
- Offer reusable plates and cutlery if somebody want to eat in.
- Provide biodegradable cutlery and paper plates and avoid to buy plastic single use.
- And provide napkins only when customers want them. Too many napkins end up in the garbage bin unused.
- Stirring rods can easily be swapped with wooden sticks. I already see these in many coffee shops.
Sugar, ketchup, etc.:
I dont know when this started, but more and more places offer small plastic wrapped sugar, salt or the tiny milk sachets for the coffee. In restaurants even sometimes the ketchup, dressings, butter etc. comes on the table plastic wrapped. Thats not necessary.
To make a difference: just stick to the old fashioned sugar, salt shaker, and have a milk can. Have a ketchup and dressing dispenser. Its not a huge change. And yes, you know that it is cheaper than all the wrapped stuff!
- Use paper bags instead of plastic bags. Animate your customers to bring their own reusable bags, or to reuse the paper bags!
- If you sell berries in Plastic Container. Try to switch to paper made container. Again: ask people to bring them back for reusing them. Good and loyal customer are coming every week right? So its not even a extra tour for them to bring them back, because they will shop at your place all the time.
Avoid plastic water bottles:
You are the boss, so you decide what you want to offer. If you want to make a change, sell water out of glass bottles. Thats how we used to buy and sell water for years and years before the industry switched to mainly plastic. But they are still out there.
Or ask your drink delivery. If they don´t have some, ask again and let them know, you are going to find another delivery where they offer glass bottles if they wont change what they offer.
You see: if you invite people to bring reusable cups and containers, if your staff is not providing every cold drink with a straw or a plastic stirring rod without a customer request, if you provide glasses to have a in house drink, etc.... you will not only make a positive impact on our environment, you will reduce trash and you will also save some money.
Let´s do the math with straws and single use coffee cups:
Let´s say you are a small coffee shop and you use 33 straws and 33 coffee to go per day. And lets say 100 straws cost you $7 and 100 cups will cost you $30.
We both agree that there IS a much better use of your money, right?
If you just save half of your straws and to go cups - you can enjoy $2.220 in YOUR pockets!
What would you do with all that free money? Enjoying a holiday on a plastic thrash free beach?
Now these numbers are just an example. Feel free to do the math with your REAL numbers!
Reusing is the big winner.
Thank you for making a difference!
If you start to do changes in your store or coffee shop and you like to share your story, feel free to write me, send pictures on Instagram or Facebook! I would love to hear some success stories and see pictures and support your shop!
Did I forget something? Please write in the comment or write me a mail if you know anything else that can be replaced easily!
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Hi my name is Jule
I am a nature and ocean lover. A passionate runner and minimalistic traveller. On this blog I share my experiences, thoughts and ideas about the "sustainable lifestyle" and how you can stick to this while traveling.
You like what I share? If yes, feel free to buy me a coffee <3