War on Waste comes to Narooma area cafes

It is estimated more than three billion takeaway cups and lids are wasted every year around Australia, and that’s not even taking into account other take-away packaging going straight to landfill. 

The recent ABC television program “War on Waste” suggested that environmentally responsible cafes could connect with responsible consumers through one simple idea to reduce this waste - by offering a discount to consumers who choose to bring their own reusable coffee cups.

Now cafes around the Narooma district are starting to cotton on, offering discounts to those who using reusable cups and also using recyclable and compostable packaging and eliminating plastic.

One such cafe is Bound to Earth in Midtown Narooma, whose owner Khobi Graham has been on her own War on Waste campaign since she first opened four years ago, long before the show and hence her cafe name.

Ms Graham offers a $1 discount for a large coffee in a reusable cup and has gone a lot further, banning the use of plastic straws and bags from her cafe. Her disposable cups are “Veg Wear” which she said do compost down and she even uses beeswax cotton cloth to cover food instead of plastic cling wrap.

She also uses local food products such as milk and honey to reduce food miles and has even demanded her coffee supplier use reusable buckets for the beans. When she does have to use food packaging plastic for hygiene reasons, she has a recycling company that picks up this material.

“We pride ourselves on trying to be a zero-waste cafe but also a focus on using local, seasonal produce,” she said. “Some days we are selling more coffee in people’s own reusable caps that the take-away cups. We have been advocating zero waste and low food miles from day one – it’s all in our name.”

She said it was difficult to wage a war on waste while being in the take-away food business as some people still wanted items such as plastic straws, but she said she was doing her best to convince people to try alternatives and create less waste.

“It’s about encouraging other people to take responsibility for their actions and realise they can make a difference just by changing their own habits,” she said, adding that she would love to see Narooma go plastic-bag free and also offer more reusable items in her cafe.

Also getting involved in the War on Waste is Michaels at Dalmeny cafe where owner Glennie Dawson and staff members were inspired to take action after watching the ABC program.

“We decided to make some changes after watching the show,” Mrs Dawson said. “It was a real eye-opener.”

Recent changes at Michaels at Dalmeny include only using compostable cups, not using plastic bags and also offering 50-cent discount for those who bring-your-own takeaway coffee cups. She also plans to phase out plastic bottles from the drinks fridge and do whatever she can to reduce waste.

“It’s a saving the earth thing...” the sign at the cafe counter states.

Supplying Michaels at Dalmeny with responsible packaging material is Heidi Moritz from Narooma Cleaning Supplies, who now has a full list of recycled and recyclable packaging, from compostable coffee cups and burger clams to paper bags.

“There is so much people can use now, it’s just matter of opening your eyes and making a few changes,” Mrs Moritz said.

While recycled and recyclable packing products could be more expensive, she was hoping to introduce stickers and brochures so that cafe owners could let customers know they were doing the right thing. 

The only other local cafes listed on the Responsible Cafes organisation website are the Blue Earth cafe at Bodalla and Gulaga Organics at Bermagui, who both offer 50 cent discounts for reusable cups. 

Blue Earth owner Anton Blue said he also composted kitchen waste, recycled packaging, used glass bottles and used wooden cutlery for take-aways.

We at the Narooma News would love to hear from any other local cafes joining the War on Waste and for our readers to start encouraging their favourite cafe to start making changes. Contact us at stan.gorton@fairfaxmedia.com.au with any success stories or suggestions.

Looking for your closest War on Waste cafe in the Narooma district? Go to www.responsiblecafes.org which has compiled the list below:

  • Bound to Earth, Narooma
  • Michaels at Dalmeny, Dalmeny
  • Blue Earth, Bodalla
  • Gulaga Organics, Bermagui