Sustainability Series

Written by Cafe Campesino on Feb 6, 2010 in NEWSLETTER, Sustainability |


By now, this is a very familiar slogan for most people and an obvious point of discussion in a ‘Sustainability Series’, right? And when we talk about waste management, recycling is certainly a huge component. So huge, in fact, that recycling is often thought of first. When it comes time to throw something away, we ask ourselves, ‘is this recyclable’? And it may indeed be; but what happens if we actually express an order of importance and place these actions (reduce, reuse, recycle) into a waste management hierarchy? — first: reduce, then: reuse, finally: recycle.

  • Reduce needless consumption and the generation of waste.
  • Reuse any item that can be reused or give it to a person or charity that can.
  • Recycle whatever discards remain, if you can, and only dispose of what you must.

Reducing the generation of waste so that there is no waste left to recycle would be the ideal. And while in this hierarchy, recycling is your least preferred option, please keep in mind that you can recycle organic matter on your own (food and yard waste) with composting. Also keep in mind the concept of “cycle” in the term “recycle”. For there to be a complete cycle, the things you send to be recycled must come back to you. This means looking for products and packaging made with post-consumer content when you shop; otherwise the cycle stops short.

In the coffee house, we deal with the task of delivering to the community ‘to-go’ coffee drinks and snacks while striving to minimize our eco-footprint. We encourage folks to bring their own re-usable cup for a 10% discount. Our paper serving cups and bowls are 100% compostable/paper recyclable and are made from 24% post consumer content; while our ‘plastic’ to-go cups are made from corn. Even still, we worry about the quantity of our own waste. The ‘corn plastic’ is the compostable option to recyclable plastic, however, in a traditional backyard pile they can take a very long time to breakdown. We are currently evaluating whether the corn option is truly saving them from a garbage can or if our customers would recycle a plastic to-go cup and thus reduce landfill waste.

It is important to think about recycling before it ever gets to the point of handling waste. This means to think about the packaging of the products we buy, to buy in bulk where possible, to substitute reusable items for consumables, to use cloth grocery bags when shopping, to buy recycled products and to make recycling an easy habit at home. The choice about what to purchase may not always be easy and it takes practice to change a lifestyle. What we strive for here at Café Campesino is to give it our best shot and to continue to look for a better way.

We welcome your feedback on this or any other subject. Remember you can write to us anytime

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