As we enter the final months of our waste elimination program, we started to look a little more expansively at waste. Sometimes waste is a by-product of business that's somewhat unavoidable. So what to do with that waste?
Looking at that problem, we zeroed in on food waste and used coffee grounds waste. We go through pains to monitor our food waste. Beyond it just being a massive waste of money, it's always heartbreaking to throw away edible food just because it's a day old. Most of the pastries and baked goods we sell are perfectly edible for a few days, but perhaps not as "fresh" as our customers would want. And due to minimums needing to be met, not to mention the virtual impossibility of predicting how many and exactly what our customers are going to eat each day, there is almost invariable some waste.
Early on, when we were just in Little Tokyo, some of the shelters would come by and pick-up the day-olds, but they all stopped doing that (I can't for the life of me figure out why). Given the volume we move through in our Santa Monica shop, we tend to have a bit more food waste there than anywhere else, so we reached out to Food Finders to help pick-up and save the food. We'll hopefully work with them to expand this to all our locations asap.
In our Little Tokyo shop, for well over a year we've been part of Sustainable Little Tokyo's Cycle of Food Committee. Part of that involves maintaining the compost bins there. For months now we've been taking all our coffee grounds over there for composting. (Super random plug - part of the composting project involves hosting bokashi composting classesand we even help them out by selling pre-made bokashi kits in our shop).
We'd love to find somewhere in Santa Monica to drop of our coffee grounds, too, so we'll see what we can do there.
As an aside, food waste is a massive problem in this country. Given the number of needy families and hungry people in Los Angeles alone, this should really just never happen. Studies show that about 150,000 TONS of food are throw out each day. That is a tragedy of epic proportions, not to mention how much it fills up our landfills. For those interested, the NRDC has some great policy solutions around this. We hope beyond heaping praise on us that you take some of this to heart and look at your own habits around food and make small changes. (Sorry to get all preachy here.)
Looking ahead, next month's challenge is to eliminate some electric waste, if you will, in our Santa Monica shop to start and then carry it forward to the rest. We're a few lightbulbs away from getting our Green Business certification there...
Over and out,