Dispenser Amenities is proud to introduce two new office members. Tucker, our Ragdoll Kitten, arrived in June, 2015, at 8 weeks of age. Followed quickly by Spencer, our Havanese puppy, at the end of July. They quickly fell in love with each other, and their new positions as office greeters!!! They enrich all of our lives daily with their antics!!! But more importantly every person leaving our office leaves with a smile!!!
There are two things that we want: to leave a clean and beautiful planet for our children, and our morning cup of coffee. Recently, these two desires have come into conflict thanks to the rise of single-serving coffee pods. These pods make it easy to brew a morning cup of coffee, but contribute an alarming amount of trash to the environment. As these pods become more commonplace, stories arise of trash bins filled to the brim with thousands of pods waiting to be carted to the local landfill.
The waste is so monumental that recent estimates of 2014 sales numbers show that if you stacked the cups end to end, there would be enough to circle the earth 10.5 times. If you want another way to put this into perspective: that is enough thrown away in one year to give Saturn a new ring consisting of nothing but K-cups. This is obviously not sustainable, but what is the solution?
The Problems with Recycling
Technically, branded K-cups are recyclable, but first the consumer must separate the filter, grounds and cup. Only then can they be recycled at rare and specific recycling centres capable of processing composite #7 plastic. In an ideal world, everybody would be willing to take the extra time to separate these components and sort them appropriately. However, most of us lead very busy lives, and adding this extra step to our morning routine is not reasonable or commonplace.
Even if you do take the time to separate the components, most recycling centers are not designed with such small items in mind. So many times, even consumers’ best intentions are for naught as the carefully dismantled and sorted pods are dumped into the waste stream. In the meantime, we are producing single-serve coffee cups faster than they can possibly be recycled. Demand is only going to increase, and this means more cups going into landfills.
Give up Single-Serve?
Some people have resolved to give up single-serve coffee entirely. What is forgotten is that the single-serve method is a very efficient means of brewing small amounts of coffee. Admittedly, it is harder to picture the amount of water that gets wasted with traditional brewing methods than it is to picture plastic cups circling the globe, but water waste is a very real issue, and single-serve brewing does save in that regard. We need a single-serve brewing method that combines the water-saving aspect of single-serve coffee while eliminating the associated plastic waste.
To meet this challenge, a company called “Club Coffee,” located in Toronto, Canada, has displayed some remarkable innovation. They have found a solution to the single-serve problem that is both practical and truly sustainable: a one hundred percent compostable, single-serve coffee cup that promises to deliver convenience without the waste! The entire cup can be composted as one unit, without having to dismantle it. This allows you to toss the cup and filter out with the coffee grounds — a real time saver! This removes these convenience items from the waste stream and creates a solution for single-serve coffee packaging. Club Coffee’s products and their facility, in fact, meet all the stringent requirements required for Organic, Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade and Kosher certifications. This Canadian company is truly an eco-friendly innovator!
The Sonesta Collection is a global luxury hotel brand with more than 55 locations in 8 countries including The Sonesta Cruise Collection, a fleet of luxury river ships.
Sonesta also took advantage of the growing ‘Extended Stay’ segment and aggressively launched Sonesta ES Suites in 17 markets with the conversion of 15 Staybridge Suites and two Residence Inn locations. ’Extended Stays’ provide more space and versatility for business travellers, vacationing families and guests relocating for an extended period of time. The segment has a higher occupancy rate than the rest of the industry.
Sonesta has an overall green policy that embraces environmentally responsible initiatives wherever possible. With this in mind, in 2013 Sonesta began transitioning all their Royal Sonesta Hotels and Sonesta Hotels in North America away from little bottled amenities to in-shower Dispenser Amenities systems to eliminate the product and plastic waste associated with single serving amenities.
Fresh on the heels of the success of the Dispenser program in both the Royal and Sonesta Hotels, Mike Wohl, Vice President Operations Sonesta ES (Extended Stay) brand made the decision to also implement the Dispenser Amenities program throughout the entire newly-launched ‘Extended Stay’ brand. The Extended Stays have lower operating costs because, for example, they do not require daily housekeeping for all rooms. This makes Dispenser Amenities the perfect delivery system for amenity liquids. A weekly top-up to the liquids is all that is needed!
Today Dispenser Amenities systems grace the showers of over 6,700 guestrooms of Royal Sonesta Hotels, Sonesta Hotels & Resorts and Sonesta ES Suites. Sonesta’s guests are pampered with an easy to read, easy to use push-button selection of liquids with AVIVA Dispensers that have been beautifully customized to match Sonesta’s liquid brand.
Sonesta is not alone in realizing the enormous benefits of eliminating the small amenity bottles which add to worldwide plastic pollution. Major hotel brands, cruise lines, spas and clubs are providing amenity liquids in attractive, easy to use dispensers and ensuring a more sustainable future today!
The Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida has latched onto the next evolution of efficient farming. With the demand for local and organic produce growing each quarter, companies everywhere are looking for the most cost-effective method to deliver high-quality food onto plates. Enter Williamson Greenhouse’s “CropBox”.
North Carolina-based Williamson Greenhouses invented the CropBox to offer affordable, efficient farming methods. Their immediate goal was to create a tool that would enable anyone to become a successful farmer, regardless of their talent or expertise. “We have customers across all markets,” explains Tripp Williamson, principle owner, “from companies like the Ritz to individuals that have never grown anything and are starting a business for the first time. Our big goal is to be able to help third world countries and to help provide food to those who need it most. That is the last piece of the puzzle.”
The box is made to the dimensions and appearance of a standard 44 by 8 feet shipping container. Within its petite 320ft2, however, it contains the extraordinary agricultural capacity of an entire 1 acre farm. Its setup time, from being ordered to being delivered, is just 30 days. It maintains the perfect pH, humidity, lighting, and nutrient release for whatever crops it houses. All of these settings are tweakable, managed within a smartphone app.
This is a nascent field and the Ritz-Carlton Naples is at the forefront. Dubbed by the Ritz-Carlton’s staff as “The Grow House,” it is the first of its kind in a resort. The trend is certainly picking up steam, however. While there were just 13 in the United States in September, 2015, when The Ritz’s was set up, there were 24 by the end of December.
It’s easy to see why: the benefits to the restaurant are manifold. With a farm on the property, the restaurant is supplied with ingredients that are as fresh as commercially possible. When an ingredient in the kitchen runs low, Executive Chef George Fistrovich or one of his cooks runs out back and picks more from their CropBox. “There’s no middleman here,” he says, “we are always going to have fresh greens to use. We grow it, we harvest it and we serve it. You can’t get any more local than that.” It reduces the need for stockpiling, which in turn reduces waste.
Already, with just the one CropBox, 70-80% of the resort’s lettuce is self-supplied. The Ritz’s CropBox also supplies the resort with cilantro, arugula, spinach, cabbage, and assorted microgreens. Chef Fistrovich hopes to add another CropBox to produce mushrooms and strawberries next. With enough variety, the Ritz’s kitchens will be able to offer any dish as “local” or “seasonal” at any time.
The benefits of the CropBox spread much farther afield than just the resort’s kitchen, however. Due to the closed-off nature of the shipping container, every product the CropBox grows is organic and 100% pesticide-free. Additionally, they grow with startling efficiency: to grow 30,000 heads of lettuce, the CropBox uses 90% less water and 80% less fertilizer than a standard 1 acre farm. They also all-but-eliminates the carbon footprint and waste that stems from transporting food from farm to table. Most produce grown on conventional farms travel approximately 1,000 miles before they get to market, and this transportation cost accounts for over 40% of the goods’ sales price. Growing produce in a CropBox reduces the oil needed by 90%, and all-but-eliminates the issue of produce rotting before arriving at the market.
These efficiencies could be harnessed across the world – from inhospitable climates, to urban centres – to affordably combat world hunger and climate change. Crop Boxes can directly and immediately improve our standard of living. Williamson said that there has been interest from every continent except Antarctica. “By the year 2050 the world population will increase by 50%. We will need to produce more food and become way more efficient at growing it. With all the environmental changes happening we saw an opportunity to get involved with vertical growing to help offset the environmental impact.” This is a problem that’s not going away any time soon, but the CropBox may be a part of the solution.
Deep within the jungles of Guatemala, a chainsaw echoes across the hills. A pair of young men take their cutting instruments to a nearby sapling. As they begin their work, police show up to stop the illegal cutting. However, these law enforcement agents are not from the federal government or a national park service, but from a local community looking to preserve and protect what is theirs. This enforcement is not done purely out of altruism – the community protects the trees for their own sustainable use.
This is the face of a new conservation program opening up in the Maya Biosphere Reserve. In spite of the best efforts of the national government, Guatemala still suffers from high levels of deforestation. By putting the responsibility in the hands of local communities, it leaves the defense to those with the greatest incentive to protect the forest. Although they have their own mills and logging services, these communities do not have the capability or the desire to uproot and move on when an area is clear. As a result, they are motivated to practice sustainable logging efforts and minimize waste.
The rigid monitoring system employed by these local communities has also helped deter lawbreakers. Rather than saddle the central government with thousands (if not, millions) of square miles of territory to police, local villages are given the task of protecting what is essentially their backyard.
“Nobody is going to take care of somebody else’s house, somebody else’s garden. But they will look after and defend their own livelihood,” says Marcedonio Cortave, the director of an alliance of communities working in the reserve.
The effect of this unorthodox approach to conservation is immediately apparent. Although only 30% of the reserve is parceled out to local communities, the program has been a stunning success. The greatest success story is in Uaxactún (pronounced Wah-shac-TOON). Uaxactún is prospering thanks to the wood and resources extracted sustainably from their own region. Uaxactún wood has been sold globally, with buyers in the US and Europe. This success is accomplished without creating the barren hillsides that are typical of industrial and illegal logging efforts.
The practice has helped prove that environmental preservation and economic growth can go hand in hand. By minimizing waste and only taking what is needed, forests that are essential to combatting climate change and keeping our atmosphere breathable are maintained, while their residents prosper. It is a philosophy that has driven Dispenser Amenities’ business model from the beginning and enabled us to eliminate millions of plastic containers from landfills all over the world.
Prosperity and conservation truly do not have to be at odds. If anything, these two forces work in concert. The use of sensible, sustainable environmental regulation and responsible land use pays itself off many times over when contrasted with the costs sustained by environmental damage and rising sea levels. Hopefully, the Guatemalan model will spread around the world, and provide direction towards a greener future.