Going the half hog with your healthy business?

There I was… Trying out a trendy new wholefoods destination nearby. Gorgeous presentation, Great bulk bins to buy little bits of this and that without plastic packaging – so far so good!

So I thought I’d sample their vegan beetroot brownie and get a piccolo decaf – my daggy coffee order, hopefully redeemed by the ‘piccolo’ chicness? Maybe? It all looked divine and I so wanted a delicious little reflection spot to work on a number of ideas that had been swimming around in my head of late.

I sat down, took out my note book and settled into getting a little work done. I drank in the bustle of the beautiful suburb I worked in some years ago. It felt great to be there, anticipating a feel good treat and coffee just minutes away. When it came though I felt miffed and really sad.

Another business who’s gone the ‘half hog’. The further I come along my journey both as a learner and an educator in the ‘low tox life’, I see that there is no point in singling out the health of humans as the ‘battle to overcome’. We are part of something much, much bigger and we need to treat the WHOLE problem – that means the planet.

The brownie came in a single use box with a single use fork AND knife (brownies are super soft, no knife even required) and the coffee came in a single use cup with a plastic lid. I was eating ‘in’. I had definitely not said takeaway, in fact when it arrived I said “But I ordered these to have here”. The barista matter of factly said that it was how everything was served, regardless. The box as you can see, is huge compared to the brownie and has a plastic window.

brownine eco packaging

They were all very pretty ‘eco vibed’ single use products, but they were single use just the same. Recycling – if indeed if ever made it to recycling and given the food on it, probably not – would go out into trucks and recycling plants and into new products. It is very costly and demanding on logistics, energy and environment compared to a quick rinse cycle on a commercial dishwasher, recycling reusables within minutes, and without so much as leaving the cafe. On one of the busiest streets in inner Sydney, it’s not just going to be a handful of these things being thrown away per day – it will be hundreds, possibly thousands on the weekends. It’s not right.

Telling ourselves we’re doing a good thing by shopping somewhere like here is a half truth.

I am all for enjoying treats every now and then as a part of a relaxed and delicious wholefood approach. Let’s however make sure we’re going the whole hog and not forgetting to treat our planet with respect, but calling businesses out and helping them see that ‘health’ means not just making us healthy, but protecting our planet’s health too.

And finally, let this not be a “bitch fest”. The world is full of complainers, and this post wasn’t written to join them. It doesn’t have to be this way and you and I can say ‘hey… loved your place. Didn’t love the single use stuff. Any thoughts on changing that?’.

changemakers vs wingers

Changemakers must be solution driven and proactive, otherwise we might as well just be called a bunch of wingers. There’s an opportunity every time we discover such a thing, to ensure that we send out a polite little ripple of change – one that says we would love to see them invest in a dishwasher and reusable crockery, serving plates and glassware. Send an email. Have a chat to the manager in a nice way. Pop a polite note on their facebook page.

Affirm that you’ve loved your recent experience and the cake was yummy or the juice was delicious. You would love to see them further their commitment to health by acknowledging environmental health as well and reducing the amount of takeaway cups and single use boxes and bowls to ONLY being used for takeaway customers.

Have you had a positive experience that has seen somewhere near you change the way they served things? Have you a challenge you need help with?

Are you excited to ditch single use stuff, especially plastic as a part of your big picture health plan? Why not accept the ‘plastic free July‘ challenge created by my friend Rebecca?

Low Tox. Happy Us. Happy Earth. Both or else it’s pointless.

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Comments 16

  1. Hi Alexx, thanks for the really thought provoking article! We are shopfitters and seeing clients increasingly ask for Eco friendly materials which is awesome. But further to your article, I wonder if the venue sourced local builders and local materials? Or perhaps they got a cheaper quote from an interstate company who is larger and received better economies
    Of scale? interstate shopfitters typically fly workers in and out & truck their joinery 1000s of kilometres around the country. How much impact has a venue on its surroundings before it even opens?
    My goodness when you open this lox tox can, there are endless discussion points aren’t there?!
    Thanks for the evening read x

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      Thanks for your wonderful insights into what considerations look like from a shop fitters’ view point. Wow. So much to consider indeed. Imagine if we all started considering from our own little corners of a variety of industry…. the mind boggles at what’s possible 🙂

  2. The half-healthy businesses make me feel sad too, when a cafe or product looks promising because they’re advertising catch-cries of “gluten-free”, “superfoods – quinoa/chia/goji etc”, “organic”, “sustainable”, but then it’s still full of white sugar and vegetable oils and random non-food fillers. Or half-ethical, like when they have fair-trade tea but not coffee or hot chocolate. Just makes me wonder why hey bother! But great reminder to give constructive feedback instead of just whinge or feel sad/annoyed about it which will never help anything change!

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      Thanks Marisa… We just need to open up the dialogue to get thinking. I’m not even sure I have the answers to such big things half the time, but a conversation is where these things start! 🙂

  3. Hi Alexx,

    I can’t wait until your workshop this weekend but in the meantime…I went to this same cafe 2 weeks ago and had the same experience and felt the exact same disappointment. Thanks for the great article.

    P.S The food at the cafe was terrible too! Major disappointment all round.

  4. hello Alexx! There is a fantastic new store just opened up in the PERTH hills called the wasteless panty.. You can check them out via their website http://www.wastelesspantry.com.au or on facebook when you have time.. They are doing an awesome job! Love your work.

    Kaye CINCOTTA.

  5. A very good post, Alex. I think it is probably an example of a business really trying to do what they think people want ….but missing why they should be doing it in the first place. I notice it alot now where people think cardboard is eco without thinking about where it came from in the first place. I love the fact that you didn’t go all negative on them and still enjoyed being at the cafe too …. you can only instigate change if people come along with you , not against you. I am sure you will think of a delightful way to have coffee there and still carry your values with you that will hopefully remind them of what they could be.

  6. ha! yes, this does send me bonkers too and it is HARD not to whinge! and the reason it is hard not to whinge is because it isn’t HARD to get it right… if you believe it and understand it. A close mate of mine was asking for some advice on her next cafe/restaurant venture and we tossed around lots of ideas. I casually said that “of course, the huge market in the next few years will be real food… but you don’t believe in it enough to do it” she looked a bit affronted and I consoled her kindly “but you don’t, and real food diners would see straight through a gimmick” lo and behold a few weeks later there are a few gluten free offerings (purchased from a clever bakery who make delicious goodies but are supplying every bloody cafe in sydney at the moment…ho hum) AND BONE BROTH!! yay, I say… organic right? …awkward face on friend… baby steps baby steps. On a bright note, the more people do learn and the more feedback we give, the better it will be for everyone!

  7. Thanks Alexx, sometimes I feel quite alone in my crusade to protect Mother Earth in my own small ways but just have to remind myself that there is a whole conscious team of us out there. Jasmine (Wholly Health) x x x

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  8. Great article Alexx. After reading and learning so much from you in the past few weeks I have been making a more conscious effort to get my coffee to have in at our local cafe – I end up standing out the front talking to the local mums anyway so why not sit at their outdoor table with my puppy and still be able to do the same thing using the crockery and not the disposable cup! Would love to know what response you received from the cafe when you mentioned it to them.
    Leanne x

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