Woolgoolga cafe winning the war on waste

27 September 2017

WOOLGOOLA cafe Ground Earth is tackling Australia's war on waste one plastic cup at a time, as the country continues to generate 52 million tonnes of rubbish each year.

Statistics from the ABC's recent TV series War on Waste show that Australia is one of the most wasteful countries in the developed world, with the nation's waste growing at double the rate of its population.

Coffs Coast locals and Ground Earth cafe owners Dustin Bowie-Ford and Sasha Kennedy, are helping ease the amount of food and plastic going into landfill by reducing waste and increasing recycling as being a part of the sustainable, ethical and responsible cafe movement.

As coffee drinkers and citizens of a small community who share a culture of connection and conscious consumption, Mr Bowie-Ford and Mrs Kennedy hope to reduce the amount of plastic being produced, by reducing the amount of plastic being consumed.

Sasha & Dusty Kitchen

Ground Earth cafe owners Dustin Bowie-Ford and Sasha Kennedy. Credit: Alyssa Evans

War on Waste ABC presenter Craig Reucassel revealed that the equivalent a tramful of disposable coffee cups are binned every 30 mintues.

"The problem is that they have a plastic lining on the inside which means they can't be recycled, and that's something most people don't realise," Reucassel said during episode 3 of the War on Waste series.

As a responsible cafe, Ground Earth promotes the use of Keep Cups and encourages customers to bring their own reusable cups to receive 50 cents off the price of their coffee.

"Not only are we giving discounts for people who use their own cups but we're also saying no to plastic straws and single use plastics," said Mr Bowie-Ford.

Mr Bowie-Ford said separation of food waste and educating staff on what materials to place in each recycling bin is not only simple and effective but also gives their small business a competitive edge.

"We are definitely one of the only businesses along the Coffs Coast at the moment who have numerous recycling bins out the back," he said.

"We separate soft plastics, we separate cardboard and plastic bottles and we maintain and clean all of our plastics before they go into the recycling bin so they can be recycled properly."

A sustainable alternative to plastic bags

Pacific Collective founder Louise Hardman and Mrs Kennedy have joined forces with Boomerang Bags to provide the community with a sustainable alternative to plastic bags.

As part of the awareness-raising initiative, Woolgoolga community volunteers are making reusable bags from second-hand materials.

The handmade Woolgoolga Borrow Bags are kept in store and can be used, borrowed and brought back - just like a boomerang - when customers have forgotten a reusable bag of their own.

Mr Bowie-Ford said it is good to see other cafes now getting on board with saying no to plastic bags and understanding how much of a difference it makes.

"Plastic bags are causing huge problems in our oceans and food waste is another major issue which needs to be addressed."

Supporting the local community

With a motto of being 'wholesome, fun and balanced', the Woolgoolga cafe also tries to support local farmers and businesses where possible.

Each day Australians eat five million bananas a day, making it the most popular selling supermarket product, but what most people don't know is that a large amount don't even leave the farms due to cosmetic standards.

Ground Earth cafe buys 'seconds' bananas from a local farmer, as they are generally never accepted by the big supermarket chains.

Second Bananas

Imperfect bananas transformed into perfect dishes. Credit: Alyssa Evans

"We reduce the price of them in our store and basically use them not only for our smoothies but for wholesale too," said Mr Bowie-Ford.

"In addition, all of our organic food scraps go to our local chicken farmer and in return we get fresh eggs."

Mr Bowie-Ford said their cafe aims to help everyone in the community including artists, jewellers, bakers, butchers, musicians and anyone with locally hand-made products.

Artworks from local artist and designer Wood by Whale can be purchased in-store, while live music from local musicians can be heard every Thursday evening from 5pm at Ground Earth's taco 'n' tunes night.