Greener thinking: Events and foodservice on the road
This time of year is filled with event opportunities, from local food festivals and village fetes, to large-scale music festivals. But in an era where food vendors can be judged just as heavily by their eco credentials as food quality, sustainability should be a high priority.
Convenience can be a huge help for producers and vendors out in the field. Historically, this market has been responsible for a barrage of single-use plastic cutlery and Styrofoam trays. But food and drink vendors are increasingly trying to be more savvy on the eco front – and it doesn’t mean they have to compromise their operations.
As any event trader will know, sampling can have a huge impact on sales conversion. Wooden compostable spoons and cocktail sticks are a good green option here. But you should also deploy, and draw customers’ attention to, a dedicated compost bin. This will highlight how these utensils will be disposed of responsibly. It will send a clear message about what you and your business stand for.
On the foodservice side of things there are a number of biodegradable and compostable cups, trays and cutlery options on the market. Adopting these sustainable alternatives is a sensible move for any food business, but disposal of these items should be made clear. For example, if you’re using biodegradable bowls, then make sure your customers know this through signage. Tell them you are serving food in them, and that all leftovers and bowls can go in the provided compost bin – it’s a move that could prove just as effective as sampling.
The bigger picture
Festival organisers are beginning to challenge the disposable nature of events, too. Sir David Attenborough came on stage at the end of Glastonbury to commend the event’s ban on plastic bottles. Additionally, End of The Road Festival will operate a pint deposit scheme (£2) at its bars, motivating consumers to return their reusable plastic pint glasses in between each drink. The deposit scheme can work well for repeat custom at spaces selling alcoholic beverages, while the incentive for bringing reusables to coffee vendors is kind of a no-brainer these days.
Behind the scenes efforts
Back stage, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce your footprint further. Sharing refrigeration with neighbouring vendors can reduce logistics and save money. Similarly, instead of the polystyrene boxes and cool packs often used for chilled packing, you could turn to reusable cool boxes and natural thermal packaging. Brands like Pluumo and Puffin make insulating packs from materials like wool, hemp and feathers.