Businesses around DU strive for sustainability

By Daniela Santos and Taylor Sienkiewicz

As reported in 303 Magazine’s Earth Day report card, Denver businesses are not doing all it takes to be environmentally conscious and minimize their ecological footprint. But, around the University of Denver (DU), local restaurants, such as Beans, a student-run coffee shop on campus and Illegal Pete’s, a local mission-style burrito restaurant located on Evans, are doing a good job showing the initiative to be a sustainable organization that reduces waste going to the landfill.

Sign in Beans announcing new move towards sustainability.

Sign in Beans announcing new move towards sustainability.

Beans has been recycling for several years, but their newest reduction method is composting. Originally, the coffee shop had only a bin for landfill and for recycling. Now with the addition of the composting bin the switch has “been a huge success,” said Jessica Lally, an environmental science major working at Beans as a barista and as their Sustainability Coordinator.

The accessibility to be able to compost was made possible with the help of the chefs at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management who wanted to start the going-green process themselves. “That kind of gave us the right to also drag our compost bags downstairs and leave them on the loading dock with theirs,” said Lally, “it’s such a small detail but the fact that they have just have more of a say in the waste disposal of the building and that we can could tag along with them, that was really important.”

Assistant Manager Hannah Bibbo serving a customer at Beans.

Assistant Manager Hannah Bibbo serving a customer at Beans.

The importance of being an environmentally friendly organization is a core value of Beans’s philosophy. “Beans as a whole seeks to kind of march to the beat of its own drum…I think we have a lot of great values and a lot of great employees and customers who all agree with just disposing of their waste properly.”

At Illegal Pete’s, decisions to be kinder to the planet have also been made. “We are huge in being really good neighbors and really being a part of a community,” said Illegal Pete’s training manager Christina Beaudoin.

The restaurant’s first steps to achieve this goal was collecting natural ingredients by specifically making sure that all their produce comes from local farms.  Now, the restaurant is focusing on sustainability and composting by making everything that guest use be recyclable, compostable or made from post-consumer recycled products.

New compostable packaging at Illegal Petes.

New compostable packaging at Illegal Petes.

Part of that plan to be more sustainable includes training staff on how to recycle and compost appropriately. “We’ve really had to educate our team to be able to educate guests [about] exactly where things go.” This is for the benefit of making sure guests are knowledgeable about the differences between each bin and why these differences are so important.

When the restaurant changed their packaging, Beaudoin noticed that guests “didn’t really blink. Most people kind of went like ‘Oh, well that makes sense,” she said.

Beaudoin believes that as more companies strive to be good neighbors, initiatives to be environmentally conscious will continue to spread throughout the city. “There’s a team of us here at Denver, specifically restaurant companies, that are coming together really seeking out what we can do,” said Beaudoin.

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