Here at VDCC we believe in sustainability. We are also fully aware that the word "sustainability" can be really watered down and diminished simply to a trend or buzz word. So... we couple sustainability with transparency and action. We do this in how we source our green coffee, how we treat our employees, and also with our environmental/waste management practices. We believe it's our obligation to do everything we can to not only promote sustainability in all things but also practice it in tangible ways.
All that to say, one of our sustainability initiatives is to become a trash free cafe and roastery by June 2018. We not only want to be 100% trash free from an operating perspective, but we also seek to implement other measures to reduce environmental impact all around... such as fully recyclable coffee bags, stickers, etc. This might seem like a lofty goal, but as we've started to explore these initiatives we've realized there isn't much to do once you've made some changes and established guidelines for handling all the materials that come through the cafe/roastery.
One huge piece of the puzzle in setting and accomplishing these goals is having someone able and willing to head up the project.... aka our Director of Sustainability, Alexa Alagon! We'll let her take the rest of this post home and talk a little about what she is currently doing to get us on the path to trash free.
As an outdoor recreation leadership and management major with a minor in sustainability at NMU, I am super stoked to be able to implement the knowledge and ethics I have been learning in the classroom and bring them to this little ole' coffee shop that has become such a big part of my life. Working at Velodrome these past few months and seeing the amazing outpour of support for us has solidified my already bursting love for the community of Marquette. With that being said, the sustainability initiatives we have already started couldn't be done without the collaboration of some stellar local organizations.
Over the past few weeks we have been keeping track of the amount and type of waste we generate each business day. A majority of our waste obviously is the coffee grounds produced from all the espresso, lattes, and pour-overs we graciously serve to you caffiene-fiends. Luckily, we have partnered with the Marquette Climber's Co-operative, the NMU Jacobetti Hoop House, and MQT-Growth to deposit a few gallons of grounds into their compost systems once a week. As coffee grounds decompose, they break down into organic material improving drainage, water retention, and aeration into soil, making it a solid fertilizer for gardening.
Not only are we taking into account food waste, but packaging and dry-good waste as well. I took an afternoon to sort through every single container and packaging receptacle we have from the sugar we use in our syrups, the stamped to-go cups, our cleaning supply bottles, and our milk containers just to name a few. Every single one of these items are either recyclable, compostable or can be re-filled with a reusable container. If you've been in the shop lately you may have noticed our multiple recycling bins sorting rigids from plastics and landfill material as well as a chart posted above our creamer station noting every bag of trash we produce each month. These simple initiatives have already greatly decreased the amount of trash we are sending out to the landfill and rocketing us toward our goal of becoming a zero-waste cafe.
Our long-term goals include exploring various energy saving implementations to our store-front, connecting the community through repurposing/recycling/indoor gardening workshops and getting more of you guys to take advantage of the amazing bikeable town that we live in through winter-bike and maintenance workshops. Our hope is to become a gathering place not just the coffee-lover community but the outdoor adventurers and environmental advocates as well. Conscious consumerism is a vital component in being a steward for our natural world and taking care of this beautiful place we live in. We're excited to be a part of it with you all :-)