Greening How You Do Take Out: What Works (part 2)

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Welcome to part 2 of our restaurant greening guide. If you recall from last week, I wrote about Ike’s Quarter Cafe, a restaurant that has found a great balance of quality food, sustainability in their facilities, and a wonderful experience. For those of you considering greening your restaurant, or just in search of ways to make eating a less impactful experience, this week we focus on that which goes around the food. As in the utensils, cups, bowls, plates, and even the foil.

Ike’s Quarter Cafe has been in business for seven years as of this month, and in that time has had plenty of opportunities to try out the various green options available. And, lucky you, we’re going to tell you the best of breed that they’ve found!

There are a lot of great products out there, made out of everything from corn to potatoes to sugar cane stalks. That’s a wonderful alternative to using virgin paper or petroleum based ingredients. And yet, there’s the “rubber meets the road” factor of how they hold up with actual contents in them. Specifically hot or wet contents. In many cases, what started out as a delicious soup you first got has turned into a wet mess, with a melted, wilted bowl. What to do?

Go with Stalk Market, says Ike. All of their products are made from sugar cane. Stalk Market On their site, they break it down quite well: It’s biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable, can be used in the microwave, and put in the freezer too. It resists oil, handles boiling water, and is both impermeable and non toxic. And the cherry on top? Wood fiber free. What was once waste product of sugar farming is now what sounds like an awesome, viable alternative for food service. From bowls to plates to to-go containers, they’ve got you covered, well. I learned from Ike that they also make corn based straws.

What about napkins, and other paper products? Two recommendations here: Baywest Paper and SCA Tissue. Baywest is Greenseal certified, which means they went through a thorough examination to meet SCA logothe standards of Greenseal as a quality product. Ike’s uses them for their deli paper, goodie bags, window bags, and parchment paper. SCA, says Ike, used to be Georgia Pacific, an enviro baddie in many people’s book. A Swedish company has since bought them, and now the result is SCA, based in the northwest US. They don’t as yet claim post consumer content, but they are one to keep an eye on.

If you care logoWhat else is there? Foil. Yes, the ubiquitous wrap for burritos and sandwiches everywhere. You can now find a recycled alternative, from If You Care. Have a look at this page for some interesting facts from them about aluminum. To start, using recycled consumes 95 percent less electricity.

And finally, where does what needs to go in the trash, go? Envirobag. In an interesting factoid, apparently these bags are made from recycled plastic bags that come from schools. 92 million of them so far. Very worth supporting, I’d say.

Want to know about green restaurant serviceware, and how to green your restaurant? Come on by to Ike’s, they’ll be glad to tell you. And don’t forget the corn bread.

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