As a community space or venue, you may have had to provide catering for small or large groups of people. The following section sets out some simple guidelines and advice on reducing your waste and environmental impact when catering. It also offers some advice if you find you are catering for 40 hungry Nevis Ensemble musicians.
Equipment and Appliances
If you have a kitchen with several appliances in your venue or community space, there are several things you can do to reduce emissions, which will also reduce your energy bills!
- Have an overnight switch-off policy so that vending machines, microwaves and any electrical equipment is turned off overnight or when not in use. This can be made easier by purchasing timers that automatically switch on and off at required times. These are usually available from any major hardware store.
- Ensure fridges and freezers are regularly defrosted so that they are not working harder and using more energy than they need to.
In the UK it is estimated that five million tonnes of plastic is used every year, nearly half of which is packaging. Unfortunately, much of this which is put in the recycling in fact isn’t recycled at all. Thousands of tonnes of household plastic packaging put out for recycling, as well as other kind of plastic waste, ends up in waste incinerators in the UK. Well over half of the plastic packaging that is sent to be recycled is actually being sent abroad to countries with very low recycling rates.
Plastic waste often does not decompose and can last centuries in landfill, or else end up as litter in the natural environment, which in turn can pollute soils, rivers and oceans, and harm the creatures that inhabit them. Plastic waste is also harmful for people, and in countries where plastic waste is dumped, it is causing serious health problems for people that live nearby.
There are several ways you can reduce your use of single-use plastic:
- Consider providing washable crockery for members/staff to eat and drink from to discourage the use of disposables.
- Change all disposables to reusable or compostable products. Most compostable disposable companies such as Vegware are not in fact home compostable but must be sent to a special facility in order to decompose. If you have a waste contractor, it is important to check that your Vegware products can be collected and disposed of correctly, and this might involve having a separate collection bin.
- Provide free tap water so visitors and staff can refill their bottles. Consider implementing a policy on no single-use plastic water bottles. Instead, provide refillable glass water bottles and glasses.
- Provide really good tea and coffee making facilities so people don’t feel the need to get a take-out and use a wasteful disposable cup. People will save money so will be happier too. You can set up a system where individuals chip in 50p every so often to go towards tea and coffee.
- Go vegetarian – consider reducing the meat consumption in your venue as far as possible by having meat free days. Emissions from livestock account for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Links!
Catering for Nevis Ensemble
If you are offering food for the 40+ musicians and staff that are Nevis Ensemble, here are some guidelines and suggestions for how to feed our hungry bellies.
- Each Nevis Ensemble musician will always carry their own keep-cup for hot drinks, as well as a reusable water bottle. Nevis Ensemble prohibits the use of disposable coffee cups on our tour bus, so if you’re providing tea or coffee, we’ll be delighted to fill our keep-cups with these.
- Don’t worry about serving water in plastic cups. If you’ve got a tap, we’ll happily fill our water bottles from this.
- At Nevis Ensemble, we operate on the basis of vegetarianism so as to reduce our meat consumption and encourage a more meat free diet amongst our musicians. If you’re making or purchasing food for the group, we would love if you also made all of this vegetarian.
- What about plates? If you’re providing food that needs plates, why not try and get cardboard ones instead of plastic. If that’s not possible, don’t worry, many of our musicians carry Tupperware on them anyway.