Companies reduce litter by requiring customers to bring their own drinking straws, spoons and cups
Some Durango companies are trying to reduce the amount of waste in the foodservice industry with Bring It! Bring your own campaign.
Live Creation Studio along with Cream Bean Berry, Sew Alpine, WeFill and Live Creative Studio aims to reduce waste by encouraging people to bring their own cups, utensils, and food containers when they take out orders from restaurants.
According to a 2015 study, about 60% of the waste produced in Durango is food or other organic matter, much of which could be diverted from landfills.
“We’re kind of looking at managing and addressing solutions with businesses and restaurants together around the growing problem of waste in our community,” said Claire Atkeson, founder of Live Creative Studio.
Starting Monday, bring it up! Reusable eating kits will be offered at several Durango locations, including Cream Bean Berry, WeFill, Durango Welcome Center, Durango Outdoor Exchange, Sage Farm Fresh Eats and Zia Taqueria.
Two different types of sets will be offered: a reusable utensil and straw set, and a stand and utensil set with a straw set. Additionally, customers can purchase a foldable cup and/or tool holder separately.
Welcome Center Cream Bean Berry and Durango have already started selling kits on their sites.
It’s part of efforts to reduce waste, especially for the food service industry that offers takeout options where plastic is used.
The utensils are made from recycled razors by WeFill, a company dedicated to producing zero-waste products.
Sixteen billion. This is the number of disposable cups used each year. “But big numbers can get overwhelming, so think about one cup at a time and over time we will make a big impact,” said Kristin Salas, owner of WeFill.
Atkeson hopes restaurants will get aboard and allow customers to bring their own containers.
Katie Burford, owner of Cream Bean Berry, said she can’t ignore the amount of waste that can be disposed of through her ice cream shop. It hired Live Creative Studio to help market an incentive program in which customers can save money if they bring in a reusable cup or utensils.
“I offer incentives to clients who bring their own because I want everyone to experience the satisfaction of making positive change,” she said. “The fewer disposables people use, the less I buy them.”
Allowing customers to bring their own utensils or containers can be cost-effective for businesses, because they end up buying less packaging. But Buford said she cares more about the cause than about cutting costs. They offer a much larger discount for using more reusable items than necessary to make ends meet.
It offered 25 cents of the purchase price to customers who bring their own straws, 50 cents to customers who bring their own spoon and $1 to customers who bring their own cup. She’s had 45 clients who have brought their own spoons over the past month.
“It’s something we try and try, and Cream Bean Berry has, so far, seen a return on investment actually delivering savings and encouraging people to get rid of waste,” Atkeson said.
The campaign wants to work with each restaurant to determine what packaging costs and what packaging materials are. Live Creative Studio plans to take this data and compare it to compostable materials to see if restaurants can save money on packaging.
The campaign had to consider the health risks associated with the reuse of kitchen utensils in the food service industry. But after discussing logistics with health officials, Bean Berry’s cream got approval because the milkshake would be poured into cups, and not be produced in reusable cups. The same concept applies to restaurants that put food in reusable containers.
“So there are precautions that the restaurant should take and we will educate them on that,” Atkeson said. “We have received confirmation that this is acceptable.”
The campaign is also working with Table to Farm Compost to test compostable products.
“Waste in general is a huge problem,” said Monique DiGiorgio, managing director of the farm. “Between 30 and 40% of what gets disposed, residential or commercial, is considered organic.”