Sustainability is broadly defined as a three-tiered system of reduce, reuse and recycle. The science of sustainability is founded on the understanding that boundless consumption erodes resources, stifling their ability to recover.
Nowadays, it is this science which informs a lot of choices and practices affecting how businesses and individuals act on consumption and waste management. To be seen as ‘doing your bit’ for the planet is no longer just a ‘green left’ concern, but a fast growing conscientious-based standard of living. A top-to-bottom sustainability tier is placed in order of industries, businesses and individuals.
In order for this system to work, industries - the thick edge of the sustainable wedge - must adopt sustainable practices so that businesses under their banner can provide eco-friendly services and goods. In turn, as consumer awareness grows, customers are more likely to choose businesses, products and services which support sustainability. Here in Glenferrie Hawthorn three typical industry types - retail, hospitality and hair & beauty - were approached by The Glenferrie Times to gain a snap-shot into what sustainable practices some of our local traders are quietly proud of.
In the local retail sector, there is a growing sense of healthy competition for actively reducing waste.
Kate from Blackbird & Fox commented, “We are very conscious of our consumption. Even the sticky-tape we use in-store is made from recycled plastic, and the packing tape we use for parcels is 100% biodegradable. There are cheaper options out there, but we live in a wealthy society where we should be leading the way on using (and re-using) sustainable products, and we need to support them to become the ‘standard’ rather than the ‘green option’”.
Jennie from decor and household goods shop Homing Instincts, added, “We have loads of packaging that is used in delivering goods to us, but we recycle all cardboard and paper, [and use] a recycling collection in addition to our regular council cardboard/paper collection. All clean bubble wrap is re-used for keeping gifts safe when wrapping unboxed gifts for customers. All pebble pallets - the little ones that arrive with stock - are sent to our online department and also re-used.”
In the food retail trade, green waste - or unsold produce - is a major concern. Leon from The Leaf Store food wholesalers believes that this type of waste is completely avoidable. “We do a stock-take everyday with fresh produce, and go to the wholesale market six days per week to buy only what we need. We also have great relationships with some organic fruit and vegetable suppliers and to help alleviate waste at the wholesale level, we discount the prices heavily to encourage consumers to buy organic. So you will see organic produce cheaper than conventional produce. We also supply some soup kitchens on a Sunday with produce that may not be good enough to sell, but is fine to make into soups and meals. With any remaining green waste, we send it to a composter who creates electricity from the compost gases.”
In the wake of the Victorian government announcing a total ban on single-use plastic goods to come in to effect from 1 February 2023, some local hospitality traders are already ahead of the curve.
Marc from Cafe Marci stated, “We actually don’t offer straws at Marci, and we sell Keep Cups over the counter.” Sustainably sourced goods are also a feature of Marci’s menu, Marc explains. “We sell only locally sourced produce and at the end of the day, there’s very little wastage. Our off-cuts all go into stocks, salads, pates as well as relishes, pickles and sauces. Our menu is half vegan and all vegetarian, plus we have LED fridges and water saving taps installed.”
Shane at Ribs & Burgers studied environmental science and possesses a great deal of insider knowledge on sustainability in business. He personally arranged for more water efficient taps to be installed at their Glenferrie address and commented that, “Ribs & Burgers produce almost zero green waste”. Shane explains that, “The only food waste we produce is meat bones, which would be classified as organic, biodegradable waste. We don’t have any other green waste, as things like tomatoes that are blemished or have lost their firmness all go into salsas. Also, we use cups made from biodegradable sugarcane compounds in place of plastic”.
Grace at Green Cup views her business as “a fully sustainable business.” employees are locals who walk to work. This simple act reduces the carbon footprint associated with transport. Green Cup’s menu and is also carbon-neutral, “Our menu is all vegan and we offer electronic receipts instead of paper.” In response to the plastics ban she added, “We plan to provide biodegradable straws. At present we are using bowls made from fully biodegradable materials and our snacks stock are all ethically sourced and produced.”
Hair & Beauty
The beauty industry at one time found itself severely lacking when it came to sustainability. That was until around twelve years ago, when two entrepreneurs, hairdresser Paul Frasca and fashion guru Ewelina Soroko, kickstarted Sustainable Salons- an umbrella business designed to deal specifically with salon wastage.
Local beautician Kim at The Painted Pony revealed that “Sustainable Salons takes up to 60% of our waste. They are a closed loop style of recycling.” Closed loop recycling is defined as the re-creation of the same product from that product’s post-use wastage. Sustainable Salons service the beauty industry Australia wide. Salons have the option of having this company remove and reuse their waste, including plastics, foil and even hair.
Apart from acting as a waste solution body, hair from participating salons is given a second life in the form of wigs for medically induced hair loss sufferers. Additionally, any leftover hair is used to make ‘hair mops’ that are utilised in oil-spill clean ups.
Product choices are also a way in which local salons are leading the way in sustainability. Jess at Rhodes Hair Salon stated, “We only stock the Aveda haircare range. Their products are fully vegan, with a low chemical content. Even their packaging is 100% recycled material. Also, our premises uses LED lighting and we have water-saving taps installed.”
If these local businesses are anything to go by, it is clear that we are witnessing the tip of the sustainable iceberg across many industries right on our doorstep. Changes to how many businesses practice sustainability are not always widely broadcast, but it is reassuring to know that behind the scenes, Glenferrie Hawthorn’s traders are actively taking steps to reduce, reuse and recycle.