At Blanchard's Coffee Co. we pride ourselves in being fairly kind to the environment even though our daily roasting does crank out some smoke on to Forest Hill Avenue. Is that causing harm? Likely a little bit but we work hard to make up for that in other ways. People say the movement towards greening businesses is a toothless fad that doesn't hold a lot of true meaning or value; this may be true for oil giants and manufacturing companies but in small business a little bit of effort can go a long way. We're already doing a lot but we can do a lot more.
We recycle everything we can. As much as we'd love to be a paperless business, we end up having to print out orders to keep everything straight, so we make sure those print-outs get to a recycling facility.
We are huge proponents of the re-use strategy; here are some things we currently re-use until they're completely destroyed: boxes, coffee bags, cups, java jackets and containers of all sorts.
We also love to repurpose a lot of our waste. Burlap bags that are used to ship green coffee, make excellent display material for many of our clients who creatively merchandise our products. We also end up with a lot of bio-mass from roasting and brewing coffee which we offer for free to home gardeners and farmers.
Plans to do Better
Our first order of business is to switch all of our disposable paper products to Green Duck Compostables so our paper footprint isn't as extensive.
One of our biggest initiatives this year is the idea of bringing together local businesses, crafts-people and community members to promote and support local happenings and causes. This is sort of a far reaching project that includes a ton of different avenues. For example, we will be sponsoring and hosting events such as our upcoming Community Night in the Roastery that brings folks into the Blanchard's roastery for a fun evening with coffee, other beverages, food and a silent auction featuring local crafts-people benefiting a local organization. We are also ramping up for a great 2011 RVA Barista Jam season beginning with our first event on 23 February 2011 at Ellwood's Cafe from 6:00-8:00pm. This year we're kicking up the event with raffle prizes and a slightly different format but it still promises to be great coffee-social fun!
We're also working on creative ways to bring the coffee community of Richmond together to support more sustainable business practices. Collectively, all of the coffee businesses in town put a lot of coffee related bio-mass in the garbage. At the same time, many local farmers are paying for similar bio-mass to aerate their soil or feed their composts. We aim to organize as many coffee houses and roasters in town as possible to set their bio-waste aside to be picked up and donated to local farmers. Heck, if we're lucky we might even get a few vegetables out of the deal!
We're probably just at the tip of the iceberg of what we could do to make our operation more sustainable and green, so our ears and eyes are always open to ideas and suggestions to make our community and our world a little better.