On Sunday March 1st, our Executive Director of UGSRP, Bruce McAdams moderated a panel with Laura Hawkings the Board President of Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice (LEAF), Adam Brown the Strategic Sourcing Manager of Recipe Unlimited Corporation and Evelyne Gharibian the Catering Director & Owner of Hearty Catering.
The discussions were truly inspiring and thought provoking; here are some of the key points mentioned that afternoon. They first touched on the progress made in the last 10 years from a less educational awareness piece on being sustainable to more business’s now approaching LEAF to be sustainable. Then sustainable examples and creative solutions by all panelists were shared:
- Implementing a reusable container program
- Using a strapping system for take out instead of plastic bags
- Taking unused table water to be water for the mop bucket
- Not offering plastic water bottles but only providing a water dispenser at events
- Packaging uneaten food to be re-used through programs such as Food Rescue
- Using charcoal from a restaurants fire pit to be used as laundry detergent
The panelists mentioned how we are now seeing employees demanding accountability and asking questions. Were now seeing costs in the food-service industry to be sustainable decrease from the increased demand and its clear that zero waste is completely achievable. Laura spoke about continuing to make sustainability a goal and a conscious decision consistently throughout to see the impacts because every $1 invested equals to $7 in return over time. Adam reminded us that we need to continue working towards a circular economy by increasing recycled plastic usage and understanding where our waste goes and the recycling process in our communities. We also need to be looking at our product life-cycles with a sustainable and impact focused lens, questioning and thinking critically about every aspect of our businesses as well as training staff on sustainable procedures. From Evelyne she showed us the power of cooperation and simply asking or discussing with your clients/consumers ways to be sustainable through explaining why some services are the way they are. For example at Hearty Catering they don’t promise a guarantee delivery time rather a window for delivery to reduce vehicles on the road, fuel consumption and costs. Most importantly, we should be looking through our garbage because the answers lies in our waste! All it takes are small changes to make a big impact; people are willing to do it as long as we start taking the right step towards a sustainable future.