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Why restaurant startups must lead the way to a sustainable food future



Soil Association’s Organic September Consolidates Organic Sales & Consumer Awareness

Every year, as much as half of the food we produce across the world ends up as waste. From vegetable crops deemed too ‘ugly’ to harvest, all the way to restaurant diners feeling too embarrassed to ask for a doggy bag, attitudes at almost every stage of the global food system are in need of a revolutionary overhaul.

The sell-by-date for this transformation is fast approaching; according to the UN, food demands will increase by up to 60% in 2050 as the population continues to grow. One of the biggest obstacles the food industry must overcome is the monolithic, business as usual stance which keeps many commercial kitchens from adopting more sustainable practices.

Fortunately, the next generation of commercial kitchen entrepreneurs are already sinking their teeth into the issue. Startup restaurants and food technology developers are discovering that it pays to be environmentally conscious, and with the right support, the next generation of entrepreneurs could solve the food waste crisis.

Support the sustainable practice innovators

In 2015, the government Startup Loans scheme saw a huge increase in the number of applications from the food and drinks sector compared to the previous year. Many of these , sustainable new businesses are anxious to seize opportunities to promote more sustainable styles of sourcing and eating food. Environmentally sound vegan and vegetarian diets are being recognised as a ‘mega trend’ among established restaurant chains and commercial kitchen startups, while no-waste cooking is set to become an era-defining movement.

As pop-up restaurants become the most common entry point into the market, many new businesses are working remotely in rented commercial kitchens. These environments must, therefore, share a portion of responsibility, and foster sustainable practice amongst food entrepreneurs.

London based commercial kitchen suppliers Dephna have created a work space where customers have 24 hour access to cold storage facilities, alongside their rental kitchens. As the Food Standard Agency (FSA) observed earlier this year, promoting understanding and use of freezing food processes is key to reducing UK food waste. If commercial kitchen startups can incorporate saving food in freezers and working with frozen produce into their daily practice, then this could soon be adopted by the other rented kitchen providers, and the wider hospitality industry.

Another party who could play be significant in influencing and supporting sustainable new practices are food suppliers. Supermarkets throw away £230m of edible food every year, finding a way to utilise this excess and prevent it from being labeled as waste is paramount. In September this year, the first waste ‘supermarket’ was opened in Leeds. Here, food which would otherwise have been thrown in the bin is sold for ‘pay as you feel’ prices. The store was opened by The Real Junk Food Project, who have used supermarket waste to feed people across the world in cafés which cook exclusively in excess or wasted food products. With more funding and support, this could become a much more common style of business.

Reducing waste with the support of technology

Alongside volunteer organisations and efforts from established food industry figures, such as Jamie Oliver, technology has a huge role in bringing the scale of the food waste crisis to light. Now, we are all hoping technology will provide the light at the end of the tunnel as well.

Food-technology innovators are set to play a huge role in reducing global food waste. In the US, the Food Waste Innovation Fund has announced it will invest $75 million in startup technologies that offer solutions to food waste.

One startup that has been making ripples one side of the pond is London-based innovators Winnow. The Guardian Sustainable Business Award winners have invented a ‘smart meter’ for restaurants to acknowledge and carefully document how much food waste they produce, enabling them to effectively change their process. Since the innovation was first put to use in 2013 it has saved commercial kitchen businesses £2m, and has reduced carbon emissions from the hospitality sector by 3,400 tonnes.

Working in a similar vein to The Real Food Project is the new UK app Too Good To Go. The app enables restaurants to sell surplus meals to customers at much reduced rate, instead of simply throwing the food in the bin at the end of the working day. So far, startup restaurants have been the first to step up to the plate, and join the app service.

It will take a combination of all the aforementioned efforts and innovations to find an effective solution to the food waste crisis. Systematic change is needed on a global scale, and and many promising new ventures which are already making this happen, expanding their businesses and ideas across the world. As restaurants have a significant influence on the supply chain and food manufacturers, influencing and supporting sustainable commercial kitchen startups and the wider restaurant industry is a good place to start.



Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness



Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.

While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.

One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move



Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.

1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.

4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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