As a business that champions food startups creating sustainable change within the food system, it was a natural next step to ensure our practices were in line with the California Green Business Network standards. The certification process was a great validation of many of the ways in which we already operate, but also helped us recognize significant areas of improvement. We certified both our production facility and our cafe separately as the processes and operations are quite different in each area of the business.
Changes We Made
Many of the changes that we were required to make in order to be a Certified Green Business were relevant to both parts of our business. We implemented behavior change signage including labeling the correct items for each waste disposal bin, and signs encouraging patrons, KitchenTown makers, and employees to reduce their usage of water and paper towels. We also took at a second look at the cleaning chemicals we were using and switched to more eco-friendly versions. Other larger changes included switching out our Exit signs to LED versions as well as a few other light fixtures.
One of the most rewarding parts of this process was the opportunity to educate both our makers and the San Mateo community. To cultivate greener practices within our maker community, we hosted a Green Business workshop and a Food Waste workshop. The companies at KitchenTown had a chance to learn directly from a member of the Green Business program team and initiate their own certification process. Building on this, we worked with Dana Gunders, leading food waste consultant, to create a program specifically tailored to food startups to help them evaluate and change their practices in an effort to reduce food waste.
In our cafe, we’ve always prioritized creating a local and sustainable menu. More recently, we’ve implemented a discount for those who bring their own to-go cups. Becoming a certified green business was a great way to solidify our sustainability efforts and keep talking with our team about how we can improve. We’re hopeful that we can inspire all the businesses in our kitchen to implement similar practices.