Is Your Café Environmentally-Responsible?

Via Waylon Lewis
on Aug 3, 2008
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One of our favorite local/independent cafés offers cork sleeves for those in too much of a rush to get for-here [applause]. Another one forbids folks to talk on cell-phone while in line [applause], which may not be eco per se, but we’re all for it. Another offers all compostable to-go stuff—and compost, paper recycle, and commingled container recycle bins—and even did a greenish build-out of the former Dunkin’ Donuts site they took over. Another offers fair-trade yummy coffee and healthy fare (still a rarity in cafes)—and it even offers our elephant staff gift certificates in partial exchange for one of our Mindful Guide listings, so our team can stay energized even while…selling ads. And finally, our favorite tea-focused cafe (which also supports ele) sells yummy, vegan (two words you don’t always see together) snacks, organic teas, offers organic milk and has a skylight in the men’s bathroom so you don’t need to turn the light on during the day—a minor, but thoughtful energy-saver.

Still, most cafés don’t offer compostable to-go ware, just bleached paper cups that have an active life of 3 minutes and a landfill life of 3 years. Many blast heat in the winter with the door open, and AC in the summer with doors wide open. Many don’t have recycle and compost bins where the public can access them. Many wrap their non-organic white flourful goodies in saran wrap, and only offer the nu-cu-lar microwave as a way to heat up frozen burritos and such.

What does your café do that’s eco-commendable? Comment below, if so inspired–the link will help direct some of ele’s traffic to their site, a small token of good karma for their actions.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


13 Responses to “Is Your Café Environmentally-Responsible?”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Rather than making up a bunch of rules which usually put people off, such as turning off cell phones, it is much better to live by example. Rather than telling people what to do, how about posting information about what you do. For example, “We use renewable resources and recycle?” Some times, with good intentions, we find ourselves becoming bossy old know it alls making a lot of rules. Coming across like that, we are labeled crazy. Now is the time to boast about the good things we do and quit demanding people to do the right thing for the environment. Lets set a good example.

  2. admin says:

    For those cafes who want to get on the eco tip: is the best source I know of for compostable to-go ware, etc.

  3. Gabrielle says:

    Hey Way,

    I like the way you offered the links in your article … didn’t mention any cafes and coffee or tea shops by name, but mentioned what they do, and allowed us to follow your red links to find out who they are (I guessed most of ’em before using the links … guess I’ve seen you and your staff around town quite a bit over the years).

    Anyhoo, I think it’s fine to let people know that cell phone use in line isn’t welcome in a cafe … people make do if they want to be in the cafe. A few rules aren’t so bad, though the INVITATION to do what’s good for the environment seems more welcoming and less finger-wagging.

    Down with plastic wrap and not providing compostable to-go containers … and up with doing the latter then providing a receptacle for compostable waste. We can change our habits and dig out of the environmental black hole we’ve created.

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  6. miche says:

    microwaves are often seen as more eco friendly, they use less energy to cook food than a stove.

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