by Cindy Pantea
I retweeted the Environmental Protection Agency the other day and at the same time thought that the day before Thanksgiving would be a perfect time to release this post on the food service businesses who were applicants for The Summit of Sustainability Awards. While they did not win their small business category, the efforts should be recognized so that the practices can be started by not only other food service entities but also maybe ourselves…
Ms. Julie’s Kitchen – It’s all about sustainability with this vegan restaurant. Not only does the business reduce food miles through the use of local produce as well as growing hard-to-get produce herself, Ms. Julie’s Kitchen also composts 15-5 gallon pales of food scraps each week to make the best soil for inner-city growing. Owner Julie Costell’s work brings healthy living to Akron – mind, body and soul, as she has joined forces with Truly Reaching You Ministries (T.R.Y.), and Janet Paul, Summit County Women’s Chaplain, to offer a strong set of support services for ex-felons. While the women help take care of tasks on the farm, the men focus on physical labor. At Ms. Julie’s Kitchen, the women do food prep. All of this offers these folks not only a peaceful transition back into society but also helps them learn about both healthy food and healthy lifestyles. Costell also sells at the Countryside Conservancy Farmers Market and wants to be a part of the local Cornerstore Project, which seeks to make healthy, fresh produce available at places in Akron that might not normally offer the best food choices.
Main Street Gourmet (MSG) – With all their employees exposed to the company’s emphasis of going green, they have accomplished energy savings by replacing high-intensity light bulbs with more economical fluorescent bulbs, upgrading existing fluorescent bulbs to even more energy-efficient models, installing motion sensors to turn on lights only when people need them, and using visual aids in areas like the conference room that remind users to turn off lights when finished. That’s not all, through, MSG has accomplished significant waste reduction, too, actually keeping 80 tons of paper, plastic and metal out of local landfills through recycling efforts. These efforts have also reduced trash pick-ups from four dumpster loads per month to two! Funds generated from recycled materials have been used to pay for virtually the entire $12,000 cost of a baling machine they use to prepare items for recycling. On top of that, nearly all organic waste at the company, 500 pounds per week, is sent out for composting and eventually sold as fertilizer. They also had the great idea to provide their unused sugars, for a nominal fee, to some local beekeepers for use in their honey production, which not only recycles but also helps stimulate the local economy.
Red’s Place Buffet Express / New Adventures Early Learning Center – Red’s Gourmet Buffet Express and New Adventures Early Learning Center share the same business lot in Twinsburg, OH. Red’s Buffet also has two other remote locations. The two businesses got together in an organized effort to recycle at all four sites so that every environmental hazard had a place. For metals, recycling efforts were deposited to Decco Alloys. Paper and cardboard had their own depository. In addition, New Adventures recycles for their own playground soil and socially promotes a green effect on their youth so it will leave a lasting impression.
Totally Cooked Catering – In October, this business announced that they were the only independent, full-service catering company in Summit County that composts and recycles all materials associated with its food service. With the help of Summit/Akron Solid Waste Management Authority (SASWMA), they found a solution for composting food scraps and recycling bottle, cans, glass, cardboard and paper. To reduce the waste generated by its catering operations, Totally Cooked also offers completely compostable serviceware, including utensils.
West Point Market – The store has found two areas where eco-friendly alternatives are beneficial to the store both financially and ethically. These are: the changeover to light bulbs that help preserve energy and the initiation of a recycling program so that food waste is composted and leftover food is given to outreach programs. From the beginning of January 2012 to the end of June, West Point Market has composted 123,270 pounds of food. That is over 60 tons of waste that is being converted into useful soil for the local agricultural use instead of being sent to a landfill. This has also cut down their dumpster pickup from two dumpsters per week to one.
Remember to feed people, not landfills. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB).