9 months ago

Why We Waste and How to Stop


June is World Environment Month—and the perfect time to make necessary adjustments in our daily activities as bartenders. Awareness is the first step. The next step is to consume less and better plan what we do choose to consume. 

Not so long ago, we took for granted that generating and discarding waste was simply a logical result of producing and living. 

Today it is urgent that we rethink this assumption! 

There are so many ways to reduce waste or stop it altogether. Yet we procrastinate taking action, or assume that someone else with more time and resources should be taking the lead on sustainability. 

But a bucket is filled one drop at a time. And when each of us commits to making small changes to our daily activities behind the bar, the collective impact becomes huge. 

Do your part now!

Sustainability in Times of Scarcity 

The climate crisis was in full swing before the pandemic and we were all becoming aware and starting to consider changes to our daily routines. Then, the pandemic brought a sudden new perspective, especially in places that experienced scarcity, like where grocery store aisles were without food and other goods. Scarcity, or the threat of scarcity, brings with it the opportunity to rethink in ways that abundance does not. It teaches us to be more careful with what we have.

By educating ourselves and sharing information and tips for more sustainable practices, we can make important contributions within our industry that positively impact the world.

Approximately one third of the food that is produced globally is wasted. This means that the problem of hunger and food insecurity in the world may be solvable. 

The fact that organic material, like our food and scraps, ends up in landfills goes far beyond “waste.” When these materials are not composted, they instead decompose with little or no oxygen—a lengthy process that generates methane gas.

This by-product directly impacts climate change, even more so than the CO2 produced by industry and transportation. When those strawberries that looked so delicious in the market end up in the trash, we are gravely compromising the future of our planet. 

We already have great examples in our industry to follow. Add your effort! Commit to change! Don’t wait another minute!

The same applies to those broccoli or parsley stems or the arugula salad that went bad. It happens to us all. Which is precisely why we all must make changes.

Oddly, it is sometimes even preferable to use plastic cling wrap to extend the life of foods, for example, rather than throw out unused food mixed with other nonorganic trash. While such simple actions as separating out food from other trash become complicated in the food industry where more volume is generated, it is nonetheless an essential practice. 

Lead the Challenge: Organization, Commitment and Communication  

The good news is that there are some bars and restaurants leading the challenge and adapting strategies that work!

It requires organization and commitment, and above all, clear communication—first within the team and then extended to out the entire supply chain. 

There are many immediate and easy ways to get involved. From separating trash, recycling and composting organic materials—which are standard in most societies—to very consciously avoiding waste at all costs.

Awareness is the first step. The second one is to consume less and better plan what we do consume. 

Bear in mind that the stores we shop at purchase more than is necessary because we buy more than we need. If we begin to consume more consciously, our suppliers will notice and order fewer perishables, lowering the amount of waste.

Seeing waste in this new way brings it straight to a personal level—to the individual responsibility and capacity to generate change. 

Planning our food menus and only buying necessary ingredients; making a weekly soup from what remains in your vegetable drawer; planning our time so we make more frequent trips to the market and consuming as we need—all of these efforts matter and will have a greater impact the sooner we begin.