Some Durango restaurants are getting creative with reducing waste – The Durango Herald

Businesses reduce waste by asking customers to bring their own straws, spoons and cups

Katie Buford, left, and Claire Attkisson demonstrate Cream Bean Berry’s incentive discounts for using reusable cups and spoons. (Courtesy of Live Creative Studio)

Some Durango businesses are trying to reduce the amount of waste in the restaurant industry with the Bring It! Bring your own campaign.

Live Creation Studio along with Cream Bean Berry, Sew Alpine, WeFill and Live Creative Studio aim to reduce waste by encouraging people to bring their own cups, utensils and food containers when receiving takeout orders from restaurants.

According to a 2015 study, approximately 60% of the waste produced in Durango is food or other organic matter, much of which could be diverted from landfills.

“We’re kind of looking to manage and find solutions with businesses and restaurants around the growing problem of waste in our community,” said Claire Attkisson, Founder of Live Creative Studio.

From Monday, bring it! Reusable take-out kits will be offered at multiple Durango locations, including Cream Bean Berry, WeFill, Durango Welcome Center, Durango Outdoor Exchange, Sage Farm Fresh Eats and Zia Taqueria.

Two different types of kits will be offered: a reusable utensil and straw kit, and a carry and utensil set with a straw kit. Additionally, customers can purchase a collapsible cup and/or utensil holder separately.

Cream Bean Berry and Durango Welcome Center have already started selling kits on their premises.

This is part of the effort to reduce waste, especially for the restaurant industry which offers take-out where plastic is used.

The utensils are made from recycled razors by WeFill, a company dedicated to creating zero-waste products.

“Sixteen billion. This is the number of disposable cups used each year. But such large numbers can become overwhelming, so think one cup at a time and over time we will all have a huge impact,” said Cristin Salaz, owner of WeFill.

Attkisson hopes restaurants will board and allow customers to bring their own containers.

Bring it! BYO kits displayed for sale at the Durango Visitor Center. (Courtesy of Live Creative Studios)

Cream Bean Berry owner Katie Burford says she can’t ignore the amount of disposable waste created by her ice cream shop. She hired Live Creative Studio to help market an incentive program where customers could save money if they brought a reusable cup or utensils.

“I offer incentives to clients who bring their own because I want everyone to know how good it is to make positive change,” she said. “And the fewer disposables people use, the less I have to buy.”

Allowing customers to bring their own utensils or containers can be profitable for businesses, as they end up buying less packaging material. But Buford said she cares more about the cause than cutting costs. She offers a much larger discount for using reusable items than she needs to cover her expenses.

She offered 25 cents off the purchase price to customers who bring their own straw, 50 cents to customers who bring their own spoon, and $1 to customers who bring their own cup. She has asked 45 customers to bring their own spoons in the past month.

“It’s something we’re trying and piloting, and Cream Bean Berry, so far, is seeing a return on investment in saving money and encouraging people to go zero waste,” Attkisson said.

The campaign wants to work with each restaurant to determine their packaging costs and packaging composition. Live Creative Studio plans to take this data and compare it to compostable materials to see if restaurants can save money on packaging.

The campaign needed to consider the health hazards associated with the reuse of cookware in the restaurant industry. But after discussing logistics with health officials, Cream Bean Berry received approval because the milkshakes would be poured into cups, not produced in the reusable cups. The same concept is true for restaurants that place take-out food in reusable containers.

“So there are precautions a restaurant needs to take and we will educate them about that,” Attkisson said. “We have obtained confirmation that this is acceptable.”

The campaign has also worked with Table to Farm Compost to test compostable products.

“Waste in general is a huge problem,” the table told farm manager member Monique DiGiorgio. “Between 30 and 40% of what is thrown away, residential or commercial, is organic.”

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Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement