The Root Café: Waste Not, Want Not

This hotspot is ahead of the curve, diverting more than 75 percent of its waste from the landfill.

Apart from its vegan treats and fair-trade coffee brews that attract a bustling crowd of customers daily, is deserving of an emerald nod for its eco-friendly business practices that could rightfully make any establishment green with envy.

The Root, as it’s known by customers who imbibe and dine there frequently, embraces all things good for and good to the earth. But even regulars might not know all that’s been going on behind the scenes. And I guarantee it’s not some Wizard-of-Oz, pull-the-curtain-over-on-you type of mission statement that talks of grand gestures and future plans. This is big stuff, happening now.

It all starts with co-owner Julie Hutchison, who is a champion of sustainability.

“From our cleaning products to how we source our food organically and locally to our waste stream, sustainability is a very high value of ours,” said Hutchison, who owns the community hotspot with her husband, Bobby Breitenstein.

“We want people to come in and enjoy themselves and appreciate the coffee that they are drinking and the food that they are eating and really be intentional about that," she added. "We want to be able to provide all of these luxuries to the city of Lakewood without having a really heavy footprint and that means a lot to me as the owner.”

Hutchison wants to be zero waste – meaning her business will send no trash to the landfill – and she believes it’s a goal that is achievable by the end of 2011.

She estimates the establishment currently diverts more than 75 percent of its waste through these notable efforts:

Recycling: They are avid recyclers. Each week, they set out as many as 14 bags of recycling for the city to pick up. The win here is that the city doesn’t charge for recycling so they effectively save money by diverting it from the garbage dumpster which does cost per pickup.

Freecycling: Coffee grounds. “We give our coffee grounds to any gardeners who want them,” she said. “In the spring time people can bring in a bucket and we’ll fill it.”

Earth-friendly cups and disposables: Since last summer, they have purchased compostable paper products such as cups, take-out containers, straws, etc. In addition, they charge for disposable beverage containers and give a credit to those who bring reusable mugs. “You either pay 10 cents extra or get 10 off,” she said. The Root currently provides take-out food containers at no charge but is considering adding a fee in an effort to encourage people to bring in their own reusable containers for leftovers when they dine there.

Composting: All food scraps, paper, cardboard, disposables, and wax cardboard are collected for commercial composting. The Root has composted for some time but recently contracted with Rosby’s in Brooklyn Heights, which is looking to grow its pickups in Lakewood.  “I would encourage other businesses and institutions to contact them because the more bulk compost that they can pick up, the most sustainable it is for them to be able to come out here.”

Pat Ballasch August 02, 2011 at 01:28 PM
Peter Grossetti August 02, 2011 at 03:18 PM
LOVE the Root Cafe .. it's the smokers hanging out in front that drive me nuts!


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