Our 2017 season began like most others - a well-rested crew starting off with a long list of enthusiastic goals for what would be our busiest season to date. One of those goals, which we carried over from basically every season before that, was to have zero waste. Yes, I said it. Zero. Waste.
You’re probably wondering, how in the world does a catering kitchen manage that feat?
First, we nominated a Zero Waste Ambassador who started weighing out our compost each day so we’d have an eye-catching tally to report at the end of the season. But with all our good intentions, things got away from us and we had to focus our energy more on creating delicious cuisine and magical events than on ensuring our zero waste initiatives were met.
That’s not to say some great progress wasn’t made, however. We’ve always had a robust composting and recycling program, both of which have improved year over year in the nine years we’ve been in business. Our neighbor’s farm benefitted from the tons of compost we saved from the trash that fed his gardens and we had long since replaced Styrofoam and other similar products with biodegradable and compostable alternatives.
As such, our momentum last season propelled us into 2018 with great ambition. To top it off, we were invited to join a local group of food businesses on and around MDI who had similar goals in mind - namely to reduce food and other waste produced by businesses like ours. So, we joined the Sustainable Business Pledge and we haven’t looked back. As a participant in the pledge program, we promise to:
Not use plastic straws or plastic drink stirrers
Not use foam (Polystyrene, Styrofoam™) to-go containers, cups, bowls, or plates
Not use plastic bags for to-go orders
Use reusable, washable, or compostable cups, plates, bowls, and utensils
Not use plastic garbage bags that are not certified compostable
Compost food waste (or give it to farmers) and compost compostable disposables.
We’ve made huge progress thanks to this pledge, and one of our biggest achievements has been with regards to trash. We’ve reduced our trash output exponentially - going from several large bins to one small bin for the ENTIRE kitchen.
We’re excited to see where this all leads to next and we know one thing for sure, the local pigs are super happy with all our food scraps.
Mandy Fountaine is the owner of Bar Harbor Catering Company, lifelong Mainer, and lover of all things food and travel related.