Getting To Zero Waste
At Standing Stone Brewing Company, we’re passionate about serving great craft beer and food while improving the planet. Our efforts have gained some recognition recently, including placing #2 on the Oregon Business 100 Best Companies to Work For list, and the Ashland Conservation Commission “Conservation Heroes” Award.
While we’re honored by these commendations we’re always determined to do better. So, we set high goals for ourselves, including creating zero waste at our restaurant and brewery – sending nothing to the landfill.
Last year, Brandon Schilling, an SOU graduate and sustainability enthusiast, joined our restaurant family. Brandon does double duty as a server and Sustainability Coordinator and has brought lots of fresh ideas and practices to improve our environmental impact. We asked him to give us a peek into our zero waste journey and provide some tips for others.
1. How does Standing Stone work to achieve zero waste?
Our approach is to reduce our use of materials in the first place, then reuse, compost and recycle what’s left. We offer lots of house made products that involve less packaging, and we store our dry ingredients in reusable and washable glass jars. We feed our chickens with restaurant and brewery byproducts, including spent grain and hops and vegetable scraps. Of course, we recycle, too. As recycling has become the least effective “R,” however, we like to keep every resource that comes in to Standing Stone within our operation until the very end of its lifecycle! Our newest projects are all about completing the resource circle by converting items that are normally trashed into resources.
2. How does Standing Stone reduce materials use?
We save tons of glass every year by selling kegged wine from Wooldridge Creek and Misty Oaks. We buy locally from farmers who use durable packaging and sustainable delivery methods, like Village Farm’s bike delivery! We’ve switched individually packaged items to bulk items, such as tea and honey, and we repurpose our packaging. For instance, we reuse kitchen buckets for waste management bins, and turn produce crates and waxed boxes into garden planters.
3. How do employees learn and get involved?
Employee education includes hands-on exercises and presentations at staff meetings, as well as signage with pictures instead of words to help clear the confusion about what’s recyclable and what’s compostable. We offer Waste Management 101 as part of new employees’ job training. Sorting reusables, compostables and recycling and understanding waste management is an integrative part of everyone’s jobs, and it’s all of our responsibility to be conscious of our sustainability policies and practices.
4. How can anyone work toward zero waste?
Start with being conscious of reducing the materials you use. Use metal water bottles, reusable grocery bags, cloth towels and napkins, or a handkerchief rather than tissue. Also consider making holiday cards from paper packaging, and saving glass jars and plastic containers for storage. Purchase produce from farmers markets (in reusable bags), choose bulk foods, and compost food scraps in your own back yard. And when you crave a fresh beer, bring in your reusable growler bottle for us to fill!