I’m from Michigan originally so you would think that I would be used to winters. But to be honest, I’ve had more than I can bear of the “white stuff” this season, so when I think about the words “being green” the first thing that comes to mind is digging out from this blanket of snow and hoping for anything that resembles the green of spring. Yet, as we all know, “being green” isn’t the burst of life in spring, but rather about protecting our environment— our own habitat—with the little decisions we make each and every day.
A few weeks ago, when writing about Organics (link blog), I declared myself as Kahn’s Catering’s resident “environmentalist”. I have to admit, it’s quite a heavy title to throw on myself, as there are people who are far more progressive thinking than I am. But when I re-joined Kahn’s Catering full-time a few years ago, one of the first projects I undertook was a green initiative. To food-service operators there seemed to be a wealth of products available; however, I was sad to see that the same empty “green-washing” claims being used in the commercial arena that we see in many consumer products such as, “natural”, “plant-based”, “recyclable” and “recycled”. For example, the value of recycling, when we think of it as the diversion of waste from landfills, is in the “post-consumer” recycling of content, which is material recovered after use, and not material recovered within the manufacture of the product.
Each of the settings where we work has different waste management arrangements. At our own venue, the Montage, where most of the food for all locations is produced and therefore, most of our waste is generated, we participate in a co-mingled recycling program (metal, glass, paper, cardboard, and plastic). Such an arrangement is also available at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where we operate the museum café and serve as the exclusive caterer. You will see blue recycling totes or collection fixtures available for use at these locations.
What made for a much harder decision was what to do with the single-use items that we inevitably use in the course of providing food service to our guests. This includes items such as stir sticks, cocktail picks, cups, napkins, straws, lids, and to-go packaging. As not all of our locations recycle, we had to make choices that would provide the best environmental outcomes in all settings. So what did we do?
- In almost all of our catering, we use china, glass and silver for food service, eliminating unnecessary disposables. In our cafés, we provide most food service with china glass and silver as well, using disposables only for to-go items.
- We have also engineered our menu to accommodate a greener experience, so instead of fruit salad in a boxed meal, which required a container and a fork, we now offer whole fruit, requiring neither. However, when disposable items are required, we have selected renewable items such as wood and bamboo, or have selected combustible plastics. While commercial scale composting does not exist, we hope that the plant-based plastics we have selected, if disposed of through regular channels, will stand a better chance than petroleum based products of degrading over time. See more about the consequences of plastic here: //www.midwayfilm.com/
- In our paper products, we select either 100% recycled, or tree-free products when possible, and choose unbleached products when available. Other products have varied percentages of recycled “post-consumer” content.
Take a look at our Environmental Commitment Statement for more details. We are pleased by how many of our customer’s share in our passion for environmental responsibility. Please feel welcomed to share any questions or comments you may have about our practices.