Sustainability is something I have become quite passionate about. You might find this surprising as I don't look like a typical greenie… After all, I like to dress well and drive a 1970 gas guzzling Volvo (it's a P1800 and oh so beautiful).
I do, however, run a very popular pastry shop, Black Star Pastry, or as it is more commonly known, BlackStar.
It's the kind of place that makes a lot of people very happy and we go through an enormous amount of food. For example, in order to produce our most famous item, the Strawberry Watermelon Cake with rose-scented Cream, we go through at least 1.2 tonnes of watermelon per week – most of which is rind, which we cannot use.
We aren't a patch on big manufacturers but to me the scale is awesome. I once calculated that if you laid out the amount of strawberry cake we make in a year it would cover a whole Olympic-sized stadium.
I am so very grateful things are going well, however I am at the same time aware that BlackStar's success comes at a cost. It is an unavoidable universal law that to create something, something else must be used up.
The time to speak up has come, and I’m thrilled to present our findings and steps towards creating a greener business model in this journal.
What I have discovered about sustainability is that what is true and what is myth is not as simple as it is made out to be. My journey into sustainability has really been a process of exploration and discovery, of learning more and more about the things we take for granted in this modern age.
Few of us give a second thought to what happens to something after we toss it into a bin. For that thoughtlessly discarded piece of garbage, that moment is actually the beginning of a new journey, one which may have any number of destinations.
Does it get recycled? Does it go into landfill? If it's a piece of food waste, does it end up in compost or go to feed pets? And why should we care anyway? Surely it has already given up its usefulness and there is no longer any value attached to our unwanted rubbish?
I realised that even though I was into "sustainability" I knew hardly anything at all about the topic, except for a few simplistic bylines like "recycling is good" and "shop local". The moment my eyes opened to just how little I knew about sustainability was for me like a kind of rebirth.
Since then, our efforts towards sustainability have been catalysed through research, self learning and talking to experts. We are progressively understanding how to balance what we take with what we give in a practical, realistic way and wish to share our lessons with others.
This is the story of BlackStar's journey into sustainability.
It is a story of growth, of understanding how to be an environmentally-minded corporate citizen, and how we can build the depth of our Green over time with each new understanding.
Our final destination is to build the most sustainably run pastry shop I can, but even that target is not very well defined. Will we ever get there? No, I don't think so, there will always be better ways of doing things, finer understandings to gain. It is a great story so far, one which I hope you too will find interesting. And one which might also lead you down the path we chose.
I am by my nature an optimist, and one who believes that it is not too late for our species or this planet. Together we can turn the tide of environmental destruction. It will be slow at first, but we can make a difference as we work together to change minds, behaviours, and systematic standards.
To the journey!