Plastic bags are great right? I think that's something we can all pretty much agree on. They're just so handy for carrying stuff about in. And when you finished carrying stuff about you can just use it to suffocate a baby dolphin or something. The Government, however, have come along to rain all over our dolphin killing parade and insist we pay for plastic bags. It pains me to say this, but I'm with them on this one. Here at Stones we were way ahead of the curve and have been primarily been using paper carriers since we started out, but we do still offer plastic bags for customers who are buying heavy bags of flour/walking around in the rain/particularly intent on killing dolphins. The bags are biodegradable and as we have considerably less than the cut off point of 250 employees we don't legally have to charge for plastic bags but we have decided that we will. Firstly the biodegradable thing; basically nothing biodegrades in landfill. Food remains more or less intact, newspapers are still readable after 40 years. Just because something can technically break down doesn't mean it will. The conditions in modern landfill sites are not conducive to the contents of your bin bag biodegrading, they are conducive to preserving things. Preserving things like a museum. A museum of crap. We decided that we will charge 5p for plastic bags and donate the money to charity, as the supermarkets are doing, until our current stock of bags runs out. Hopefully the practice of charging for bags in many shops will mean that using reusable carriers will be the norm for most people. We have 500 or so plastic bags left; after that customers buying heavy bags of flour will need to remember their cloth bags. And dolphins everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief.
So my sister started banging on about this blog Trash is for Tossers about a woman in New York who sends nothing to landfill. I went over to have a look, mostly out of disbelief. I assumed there must be some kind of catch, she must chuck some stuff in the bin. Turns out there isn't and she doesn't. Then I decided that it was OK for her swanning around Manhattan all glossy haired and young but wait till she has kids; then we'll see. Except there's a woman in San Francisco with two children who's been doing this for years. Damn.
So this thing they're doing is called zero waste and it basically involves sending practically nothing to landfill. If you're successful you can keep the tiny amount of rubbish you do create in a mason jar. A mason jar is like a kilner jar only less jam making more hipster. I started trying it out at home. I realised I was going to need a mason jar approximately the size of a large rubbish bin but I enjoyed the challenge of gradually reducing our waste. Then I thought maybe we should give it a go at the bakery. This blog is all about us giving it a go.
I started reading online about zero waste from a business perspective in preparation for this project. It was very boring so I stopped. Zero waste in the home is all rows of mason jars filled with pulses and vintage cloth shopping bags. Zero waste in business is the triple bottom line and the precautionary principle. Worthy and important, but just a teensy bit dull. I read that I need to perform a waste audit and produce an annual sustainability report. And I thought screw you, I'm just going to do some stuff to make the bakery more environmentally friendly. I'm not going to have clearly defined, actionable goals. I'm going to have poorly thought out woolly goals like 'be a bit greener'. I also read up on starting a blog. I need to define and research my target audience; I need to have more of those clearly defined goals. Can you guess my reaction? It was indeed once again screw you. I used to have an office job with SMART goals and action plans and strategies, but now I'm self employed; I can just do stuff. So I'm going to just do stuff.