Monday, July 19, 2010

Black Stilt Coffee Lounge, Victoria, BC

Environmentally-friendly business practices

Human activity has a huge impact on the environment. I can take my own mug to the coffee shop, and many restaurants and delis are replacing styrofoam with materials that are more easily recycled, but that’s just a small piece of the puzzle.

I was heartened to hear about the Black Stilt Coffee Lounge in Victoria, which has a much more comprehensive approach to being environmentally friendly. Here are just a few examples from a very long list of their environmentally-friendly practices:

• Maintain a compost pile and use compostable paper towels and cutlery

• Purchase recycled and post-consumer paper products

• Unplug equipment at night to reduce phantom loads

• Use a low-flow dishwashing wand and the sanitizing dishwasher is only run when full

• Increased compost and recycling storage to minimize waste pickups and reorganized bakery and coffee deliveries thereby reducing total number of trips to the Black Stilt by over 10%

Black Stilt is a Third Wave coffee shop, which means that its coffee is linked to a specific farm and crop in order to make the production process as transparent as possible. By visiting the farm and working directly with the farmers, the coffee shop owner can ensure that the coffee has been grown organically, is bird friendly, grown in the shade, and that the rights and welfare of farm employees are a priority.

I have been accused of being elitist because I care about where my food comes from and how it is produced and delivered. It is true that it can be more expensive (although not always), but to only focus on money is very short-sighted. If we truly care about sustaining our environment and passing along a planet rich in natural resources and beauty to future generations, we have to stop abusing it – NOW. Individual consumers and business owners can make a difference and can lead us towards a more sustainable future.

According to Wikipedia, the black stilt (New Zealand) is one of the world’s most endangered birds. The current wild population is estimated at 85 adult birds.

From Seed to Cup, a small book chronicling the critical stages in the creation of a cup of coffee, is a fundraising initiative to help support the coffee farm families. The funds will be distributed through the Oughtred Coffee Trust.

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