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Cradle to Cradle

Posted Apr 17 2008 12:00am

The TeaSpot is currently working on ways to make our company more environmentally friendly. In a town that is blinded with green propanganda and progressive ideologies on how companies and individuals can help save the planet, you would think this would be relatively simple. Despite our green technicolor schemes, this is definitely a much bigger project than anticipated! I recently finished a book called Cradle to Cradle, written by William McDonough (an architect) and Michael Braungart (a chemist), who explain that our world's economic system, since the industrial revolution, supports a cradle-to-grave approach. That is, when something that serves its purpose is finished (for example, your computer or TV or couch), it too is finished, and usually ends up in landfill or in a burning pile of garbage somewhere in Africa. They propose a cradle-to-cradle approach, which utilizes patterns found in nature to replicate a circular, ecologically friendly use of industry. For example, planting a garden on your roof creates natural insulation while releasing ozone-friendly oxygen into the air. Perhaps one of the most sobering things I read in this book is the concept that recycling isn't always the environmentally friendly action we think it is. The plastic in some materials was never meant to be downcycled, which means that in some instances, a plastic that is melted down with the intention of recycling, can actually change the chemical structure of said plastic into something that actually releases toxic gases or chemicals. So companies that are using recycled plastic to make clothing, while having the most noble of intentions, could actually be placing something harmful or toxic next to your skin. Oh, the tangled web we have woven! In any case, the point is that there are any number of things we can be doing to alter our procedures and choices for a more sustainable planet.


So what is the TeaSpot's downtown location going to do about it?

*We are currently working on developing a compostable to-go cup. Of course, this means we will also have to implement a way of making sure that a large quantity of those cups actually makes it into a compost bin! Something compostable that goes into the trash or recycling pretty much eliminates its purpose altogether.

*We will be turning our fountain (though we will certainly miss the calming sound of running water!) into a planter full of oxygen-releasing ivys and foliage.

*We can feed our compost to our plants.

*We will be looking into how to replace our harsh dishwashing chemicals with environmentally friendly alternatives.

*We will even make small changes like bulk sugar dispensers rather than paper-wasting individual sugar packets.

*We are working with a food bank to distribute any un-sellable, leftover food to the homeless or hungry.

*We are also working to eliminate the need to order our products from distributors across the country, and purchase from local vendors whenever possible.

*We will continue to recycle bottles, plastic, and paper as much as possible.

*We will offer a discount to any customer that comes in with their own travel to-go mug.

If anyone has any suggestions on ways we can improve our operations to reduce waste, then by all means let us know! We want to do everything in our power to become a legitimate, zero waste company rather than just utilize clever marketing to make it look like we are!
Long live (we hope) the planet!


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