‘Greening’ of businesses can be costly but worth it, local eco-advocates say. Here’s why

(Southside Daily File Photo)
(Southside Daily File Photo)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Everyone knows the story about the turtle getting a straw pulled out of its nose, but here’s a deeper look at the true cost behind switching from single-use plastics to biodegradable ones.

Ten years ago Laura Habr started the journey toward becoming the first Virginia Green certified restaurant in the state.

Habr is the owner of Croc’s 19th Street Bistro.

Undertaking the “greening” of her business was going to be costly, she said, but she was positive that by becoming Virginia Green certified the business would be bettering the community.

“We knew the more the demand, the price would go down,” she said, noting she reached out to several of her restaurant friends to sign up and become Virginia Green certified as well.

Today, Habr has a wide-variety of “green” options in her restaurant including but not limited to:

  • recycled paper-plate products
  • recycled takeout containers
  • glass dishes and reusable flat-ware for the restaurant
  • electric car charging stations
  • a rain barrel and garden
  • on-premise chef garden
  • a solar hot water system

One of the biggest hurdles Habr had to overcome was getting the pricing of “going green” figured out for her restaurant, she said.

Once the recycling program was implemented, she was able to save about $200 a month and recycled takeout products just keep getting cheaper, she added.

The only thing that was deemed too expensive for the time being was straws, she said.

The paper straws were too expensive to buy and while Habr looks for an eco-friendly alternative the restaurant is only giving out straws when customers ask for them.

Habr echoed what many eco-warriors in the area are focused on: “zero-waste.”

Jim Deppe, Ocean Friendly Restaurant Committee chairman for the Surfrider Foundation Virginia Chapter, said his organization’s goal is to “eliminate the amount of plastics we’re injecting into the environment.”

He wants to encourage restaurants and business owners to skip straight to reusable, if possible.

Both he and Habr agree it is getting more and more cost-effective to buy bio-degradable takeout-ware but people should be aware of ways they can cut down on using single-use products at all.

“There’s a grassroots demand at the restaurant owner level for biodegradable products,” he said.

Getting into the reusable mindset is going to have to happen for there to be a reduction in pollution in the environment, Deppe said.

To learn more about the Surfrider Foundation, click here.

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