Our Sustainable Regenerative Approach
For a long time, sustainability was our goal - and to be honest, we still use the word regularly because it’s one that people grasp instantly.
But when you consider that by definition to ‘sustain’ is to maintain, that 75% of earth’s land areas are degraded, and that we’re on track to reach 1.5 degrees of warming in the next decade, you suddenly realise that a sustainable approach is not even remotely close to enough.
This is why, where possible, we’ve shifted our efforts from ‘sustainable’ to ‘regenerative’ - to renew, regrow or restore what has already been lost rather than maintain the current system. While we still have a long way to go, we hope that regeneration becomes the way of the future of business, replenishing our environment while ensuring an equitable society for all.
Acknowledging that this is a work in progress, here’s what it looks like in practice:
Our Timorese coffee farmers have implemented several regenerative farming practices to increase biodiversity, enrich soil, enhance ecosystems and capture carbon. These include planting different crops in the shade of coffee trees (to increase biodiversity), growing coffee in the wild rather than in plantations (to conserve natural farming systems) and using coffee cherry pulp as compost (to alleviate waste and the need for chemical products). The result is increased productivity, more economic benefits for farmers and the rehabilitation of entire ecosystems.
Our preserves combat food waste with every bite, spread or drizzle! In Australia, each batch is made from produce donated by local growers who are harvesting more than they can consume. Without our intervention this perfectly goof fruit and veg would be destined to landfill or rotting on the ground.
Over in Timor, some produce is grown in a garden onsite using regenerative farming methods like composting and crop rotations. A lot is also purchased from subsistence farmers in the region to ensure their harvests don’t go to waste and that they are paid fairly for their efforts.
Produce that goes into our toasties is sourced from local growers where possible, supporting Victorian farmers and minimising transport costs. We have a small veggie patch where herbs and seasonal vegetables are grown. Our hope is one day to have a hydroponic garden onsite to minimise our footprint further! Lastly, we have phased out single use plastic cups, opting for home compostable vessels where reusables aren’t an option. In 2023, we plan to go one step further and implement a reusable cup scheme to alleviate this waste altogether.
For every kilo roasted we plant a tree through WithOneSeed, a Gold Standard community reforestation program. We’ve planted over 40K trees in Timor-Leste as part the program that aims to restore the land to its former leafy state while returning dry springs and reducing carbon in the atmosphere. Unlike many other tree planting programs, WithOneSeed pays tree farmers an annual incentive to nurture trees rather than just plant them, resulting in a high 75% survival rate. All trees can be tracked via the Tree02 app, meaning we can watch our forests grow over the years!
While many organisations claim carbon neutrality or even positivity, the system is fraught. We are wary that a carbon neutral status has become an easy (perhaps even trendy) way to claim action without looking into how other processes ad operations may contribute to environmental decline. For example, fossil fuel companies are able to claim net zero status so long as they purchase offsets - and many of these offsets are not properly regulated.
The best emission reduction method is by not emitting carbon to begin with so we work on a carbon emissions model where we review, reduce and remove first and foremost. An example of this is installing an afterburner which oxidises waste gases from coffee roasting to produce a much cleaner emission.
Obviously some emissions are unavoidable in our line of work so each year we calculate annual our direct and indirect emissions including staff vehicles, coffee roasting, shipping, electricity and employee commuting. Once we land on a figure, we double it then purchase the required Gold Standard certified carbon credits from WithOneSeed
All of our Timorese coffee and organic spices are shipped via sea freight in order to reduce our carbon footprint. When posting items to customers we use a mix of Australia Post and Couriers Please, both of who pledge environmental responsibility. While we encourage customers to click and collect to avoid shipping costs, unfortunately shipping is an unavoidable part of our business.
Our coffee bags are home compostable which means they can be popped into a home compost bin, worm farm or even dug into a hole at end of life to return to the earth. The same goes for our mail satchels from Hero Packaging, and stickers and labels from Black Rainbow. All wrap and gift boxes are made from cardboard so can be recycled or be used as a great source of brown material in home compost bins.
It is important to note that much compostable or biodegradable packaging will only decompose in commercial composting facilities, which are far and few between. Our article on what packaging buzzwords actually mean goes into detail on the greenwashing that often surrounds packaging labels, to help you make an informed decision.
If you live close to our Melbourne coffee roastery, we invite you to BYO vessel for your beans. Bring an extra bottle or two and while here, you can stock up on cleaning products from our refills station! And while preserve jars obviously can’t be composted, we encourage customers to reuse them at home or return them to us to be used again.
Our HQ is located on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation. We source office furniture second hand, eco friendly stationary where possible, toilet paper from a social enterprise and cleaning products from a refillable supplier. Additionally, we pay a green tax on our electricity and we are investigating installing our own solar panels.
Waste + Recycling
Being a cafe, kitchen and roastery, a lot of our waste is unavoidable, but we have stringent processes in place to ensure it’s disposed of correctly. All organic waste is composted by members of our community, recycling is collected by council and soft plastics are taken to the local council waste facility to be turned into new products. We offer supply coffee grinds to a soap maker, offer them free to customers for DIY projects and whatever is leftover gets composted.