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Big Goals for a Pizza Joint

Posted Sep 11 2008 2:19am

So the pizza thing continues in my house, with a new, seasonal organic pizza pie popping out of my oven each week. I even toyed with the idea of doing a book titled A Year in Pizza, featuring each week's pizza, but more importantly (to me, at least), featuring a FoodShed Planet-like reflection on how that week's pizza captures each week's sense of place and time. Heavy on stream-of-thought consciousness. Low on sauce recipes.

No one (my husband, my kids, my friends) liked the idea. That didn't stop me from continuing my exhaustive researching of pizza, however. And thank goodness for that because look what I found! Pizza Fusion! (This photo is of a Pizza Fusion pie, not mine).

Pizza Fusion is a restaurant created by a couple college buddies in Deerfield Beach, Florida just two and half years ago that then began offering franchise locations after one of the guys' father-in-laws got involved. There are now Pizza Fusion locations in 13 states, with a new Pizza Fusion opening in Atlanta next week.

Here's the thing about the Pizza Fusion guys. When they started the restaurant, they decided to make it a truly sustainable business. We're not just talking some organic cheese and a recycling bin. We're talking a commitment to the preservation and improvement of the environment with all aspects of their operations and existence as they strive to improve the social, economical and environmental well-being of the world. Whoo. Big goals for a pizza joint.

I know this is a long list, but I wanted you to see what this restaurant company does that is different from just about every othe restaurant out there. Its environmental initiatives include:

* Delivering its food in company owned hybrid vehicles

* Offsetting 100% of its energy usage with the purchase of renewable wind energy certificates

* Recycling and giving customers discounts for bringing back their pizza boxes to recycle them

* Using only eco-friendly cleaners to sanitize its stores

* Using 100% post-consumer recycled paper in its collateral

* Selling and providing its employees only with eco-apparel made from 100% organic cotton

* Serving its food in plastic-like containers made from 100% corn starch that decompose in landfills in only 50 days

* Using only eating utensils made 100% from potatoes that biodegrade in 50 days

* Using 100% post consumer toilet paper and paper towels in all its bathrooms

* Printing its in-store graphics on a banner material made from 100% recycled plastic soda bottles and printed using non-VOC inks

* Hosting a free organic kids class every third Saturday of the month that educates children on the importance of eating organic and recycling

* Donating money to environmental causes in and around its communities

* Building its restaurants according to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification standards set forth by the United States Green Building Council by utilizing a variety of unique energy efficient tactics and eco-friendly products (see the very interesting list of these details here)

So, maybe I'm onto something. Maybe pizza is more than pizza. At least in the hands of Pizza Fusion. And perhaps, in mine, too.

I'll be down by Deerfield Beach next month and hope to swing by the original location of Pizza Fusion (I'm also staying at an eco-hotel!), so stay tuned. In the meantime, I'll keep those One Local Pizzas coming!
Nurturing sustainability close to home and around the world. (And other food for thought!)

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