As Durham’s restaurant scene continues to flourish, so do its food trucks. But with that comes buckets and buckets of waste.
The mobility of food trucks encourages the use of disposable materials—plates, napkins, plastic cutlery—that often end up in landfills. Don’t Waste Durham, a community organization focused on reducing consumer waste, is working to combat this problem with a new program.
Yesterday, DWD launched a Sustainable Sunday series at Fullsteam Brewery and unveiled its Sustainable Food Truck certification program. The organization certified two food trucks, Caffé Bellezza and Chez Moi Bakery. Both trucks met the DWD’s requirements: 100% compostable or recyclable materials and composting bins.
DWD founder Crystal Dreisbach incentivizes food trucks to join the program by offering signs for their business that highlight the certification, as well as discounted compostable items and a placement on a priority list for event planners who work with the organization.
“We believe this is the right time and the right place to start a program like this,” Dreisbach says. “We can really have an impact on the waste we produce in the community and divert from the landfill.”
Disposing items properly can be a daunting task for many customers, simply due to a lack of knowledge. Among the mix of what eating establishments offer as utensils, dirty napkins can be composted, aluminum foil can be recycled, but many types of plastic cups cannot.
Chez Moi Bakery owner Rhonda Jones calls herself a tree hugger who has discovered a few additional ways to be sustainable as a business owner. When slices of her fresh and delectable rum cake are left over from a day of sales, for instance, she re-uses them as strawberry shortcake cups. Jones also says she has switched to fully recyclable plastics.
Many of the people involved in Sustainable Sundays have big dreams for the future of Durham. Amanda Richardson, Fullsteam Brewery’s lead brewer and a Sunday series coordinator, felt called to action after understanding how climate change affected her business. Environmental factors often result in shortages of two pivotal beer ingredients: grains and hops. Brewers like Richardson can’t make delicious beer without clean water, either, yet the environmental effects of climate change have deteriorated water quality. Without brewers working together to mitigate climate change, the craft beer business will be hurt even more.
DWD is planning more programs. The group will launch a Kickstarter campaign on October 22 for its GreenBox program, which will provide reusable to-go boxes to twenty Durham restaurants, including Toast and Durham Co-op Market.
In the future, Richardson says she wants to host more Sustainable Sundays to promote a variety of eco-friendly efforts in Durham—and to keep as much as food waste as we can out of landfills.