The Clean Water Blog

Shirley Berry, owner of The Joint Eatery in San Jose, a particpant in the Rethink Disposable program

How ReThink Disposable Overcomes Challenges Faced by Businesses in Single-use Disposable Reduction

As part of my work with ReThink Disposable it is my job to sign up businesses to our program. By far, the most satisfying aspect of my job is when I connect with a business owner and together, we build the business the owner has always wanted.

My team and I, and the businesses we have worked with, have had terrific successes. We routinely save businesses thousands of dollars in annual costs, remove thousands of disposable items from a business’ operations, and prevent hundreds of pounds of waste. More importantly, we build connections. It is a beautiful moment when I realize that I am helping another person create something that improves their lives. Together, we are working to create the business the owner has always wanted, or, perhaps, didn’t realize was possible.

Creation means change and change can be difficult and scary. Business owners think long and hard about what their business will look like, how it will operate, what food they’ll serve, and how they’ll remain competitive while offering customers delicious food at an affordable price. When considering replacing disposable foodware with reusables, many owners are concerned about their business’ dishwashing capacity and worry about product loss, water usage, and the reactions of both customers and employees to change.

Shirley Berry, co-owner of The Joint Eatery in San Jose (that's her, pictured at the top of this blog) expressed these same concerns when invited to participate in ReThink Disposable. The owners were concerned that The Joint Eatery did not have the capacity to wash dishes given their small staff and three-sink system. In order to save man-hours and cut down on labor costs The Joint Eatery was using all disposables when customers ate on site. The owners and I sat down and brainstormed. The owners were concerned that if they purchased plates, silverware, and sauce cups that they would not be able to wash them. I suggested that she switch to a reusable basket rather than a plate and line the basket with a paper liner (which she was already using) to prevent soiling. The owners (and employees) were worried that they would lose items in the trash so we put up beautiful chalkboard signs to help customers place their dishes in the right areas. The owners were also concerned that they would not have the time to wash the dishes so Shirley purchased enough baskets to get her through the lunch rush and happy hour and they wash the baskets and silverware during downtime. These few simple changes, specifically tailored to The Joint Eatery will be earning The Joint Eatery thousands of dollars in annual savings! This is but one example of how we eliminate the use of disposables but sometimes, simply reducing the amount of disposables is what is best for the business.

Big G Burger in Oakland saves over $2,000 annually because they no longer automatically hand out condiment packages, plastic utensils, and napkins with to-go orders. Big G Burger set up a self-serve station and now that the customers have the choice of what to take with them, the business is more profitable!

The beauty of ReThink Disposable is that we create relationships with business owners and give them the space to envision what they want their business to look like. We don’t just make the same recommendations to every business. Each business is unique, the challenges facing each business are unique, and that means that each business needs a unique solution. By creating a positive relationship with an owner we have the freedom to brainstorm and come up with ideas that will work for your business. Participation in ReThink Disposable is so much more than switching from a disposable to a reusable, or reducing the amount of packaging used in your operations.

Close your eyes and envision what you want your business to look like. What do you see? We can help you materialize that vision.

Click here to email Chris and start a conversation.