(Citizen file)

Green initiative takes off for Kelowna businesses

Local businesses look for ways to reduce waste

Eco-friendly fever has washed over Kelowna businesses that are finding unique ways to ‘go green.’

Bliss Bakery is the first to take biodegradable straws out of their business model and replace them with reusable, bamboo straws.

When Darci and Barry Yeo, owners of Bliss Bakery learned the biodegradable straws they were using were not recyclable in the Central Okanagan Regional District they began their search for a better alternative.

“Paper straws are a great and massive step in the right direction, but they are still a single use item,” Darci Yeo said. “Bamboo straws are not only completely reusable but completely natural and when the reach the end of their life they can degrade naturally.”

Related: Surge in demand for paper, glass straws a boon for plastic alternatives firms

The bakery sources their new straws from SinFreeStraws, a non-profit based in Hong Kong that was started by their friend’s 8 year-old son. The couple are looking at other ways to eliminate waste in their bakeries. They recently installed “boldly labelled” recycling containers to make it easier for customers to sort their waste.

“Owning our own business we bring our own beliefs to the table and make a difference by following them, staff are so proud and excited about the change, I can’t wait to see what invention makes it to the market next,” Yeo said.

New kids on the block, Craft Beer Market has blended their green initiatives with community outreach to brew a new approach.

Biodegradable straws are withheld from guests unless asked for, extra napkins and to go containers are given sparingly.

However the restaurant has teamed up with Tree Brewing to create a “community brew” that is served on tap and one dollar of every pint or sleeve sold is donated to the Start Fresh Project. The non-profit that combines farm education with culinary training teams up with social agencies to help people recovering from addictions.

Related: Preserving the magic in the Okanagan-Similkameen for generations to come

“We also use Bullfrog powered energy, it’s renewable, so depending on how much energy we consume, we donate money on behalf of it,” Matt McLeod, manager of the restaurant said.

Bullfrog uses habitat-friendly renewable energy that supports clean, renewable energy to help combat climate change.

One Big Table takes its green initiative one step further, in April the co-op hosted a mug drive to eliminate disposable coffee cups from the building.

The business hosted an event where 1,000 mugs were donated by the company so they could implement the change. For customers that want to take their coffee to go, they can take the mug with them and return it at their leisure, if at all.

Four months after the switch from paper to ceramic director, Giulio Piccioli is still receiving positive feedback from his customers.

Related: Steele: Mark Earth Day by planning an eco-friendly yard

“It has been a bit of an adjustment, ceramic mugs require more space and attention,” Piccioli said. “I was prepared to lose some sales because people’s habits are hard to break. But I wanted to take this opportunity to start a conversation about our habits.”

Piccioli designed One Big Table to be eco-friendly from the beginning, never offering plastic bags, only paper, no straws and no plastic containers.

“It’s been neat to see what is happening and how we can do something better, it’s nice to practice caring (about the planet),” Piccioli said.

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