By Sara Perez Webber
Your customers are most likely paying attention to whether the products you use in your business are environmentally friendly.
According to a report by the World Wildlife Fund published in May, internet searches for sustainable goods worldwide increased by 71 percent in the last five years.
Another study—the 2021 Buying Green Report, published by Trivium and based on consumer research by the Boston Consulting Group—found that 54% of consumers say the sustainability of the packaging is a factor in their product selection process. What’s more, 73% of consumers said they are willing to pay more for eco-friendly packaging.
Large chains are increasingly heeding the call. One of the latest, El Pollo Loco, announced in May that it’s eliminating the use of Styrofoam and rolling out eco-conscious Thermo-To-Go containers made from partially recycled materials. The move, according to the company, will remove 1.9 million cubic feet of Styrofoam from the national waste stream annually.
Whether you’re looking for big or small ways to be more environmentally friendly, we’ve rounded up a few products to get you started.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream—served in an eco-friendly way. Welcome Home Brands does just that with its cups for gelato or ice cream that are 100% biodegradable. The single-serving cups are made of bioplastic derived from corn—which, the company notes, is more ecological than paper, more transparent than glass, and as flexible and resistant as plastic. The cups are available in three colors of varying sizes: orange (4.4 ounce), white (5.8 ounce) and green (7.1 ounce).
“Our products allow caterers and restaurants to present their desserts and treats in a decorative and elegant way while also not harming the environment and not contributing to any waste,” says Sam Sheppard, owner of Welcome Home Brands. “Customers have placed huge importance on making sure products are eco-friendly, especially if they are selling a disposable product.” welcomehomebrands.com
Add a conversation-starter to an event while helping guests freshen up and stay clean with Pure Napkin California’s Pure Napkin tablet. The tablet—made of 100% biodegradable natural bamboo viscose—is a disposable compressed napkin that expands into a full-sized napkin when a small amount of water is added to it. The process is so memorable that Hollywood picked up on it, including Pure Napkin in a scene from the movie Spy with Melissa McCarthy and Jude Law.
In addition to its biodegradability, the napkin tablet’s ecofriendly attributes include saving energy and water, since they don’t need to be laundered like standard cloth napkins. They’re also easy to store, available in bulk in small boxes of 500 tablets. For presenting the tablets, Pure Napkin California also sells a variety of trays, made from recycled bamboo, recycled ulin wood, teak, ceramic, stone and resin. purenapkincalifornia.com
Owners John and Amy Hatcher say their product, Catering Crate, is like “gift-boxing your food.” The hotel-pan-size disposable carrier for drop-off catering or carry-out is constructed of heavy-gauge cardboard with insulating pads so food stays hot or cold for three-plus hours, with no fuel source required. The cardboard is reusable, repurposable and recyclable.
Catering Crate is available in full and half-pan sizes, and printed with a pleasing design on white or kraft cardboard. It features a telescoping lid, so pans from 2-inches deep to 6-inches deep can be used. The lid can also serve as a riser.
While the Catering Crate is typically used to drop-off food to events for 20 to hundreds of guests, that changed during the pandemic. “Many of our customers packed a single half or full-size Catering Crate with smaller containers of food to serve a meal for two to six,” says Amy Hatcher, who also owns Café Pacific Catering in western Washington with her husband John. Caterers, says Amy, especially appreciate Catering Crate’s “insulating and stabilizing properties as well as versatility and price.” cateringcrate.com