Recently we opened Chilly Katz, a funky little hot dog joint in Hammersmith. Before we opened up I had the normal chat with the waste contractor that is needed. I told him I’d need 14 bags a week, 7 rubbish, 7 recycling. He proceeded to tell me that if I took 15 of the same bag it would be much cheaper, (yes I am as shocked as you are, businesses have to pay to have their waste taken away by the council, yes businesses have to pay “rates” which is the equivalent to council tax only 10 times more, not a joke its ridiculous how much the “rates” are, but that’s for a different blog) back to the story, the nice gentleman from the council told me to get the same bags. “everything in LBHF is recycled some how, nothing goes into landfill.”

“really?” I replied, “please explain.”

He then spent a while convincing me to take only white general rubbish bags and use them for any cardboard or glass id have as all waste is burnt to power a power plant somewhere and all recycling is sent to India or China (think of the recycling ferry miles on that) where it is sorted sometimes but often put into landfill.

At the time I was super busy and this didn’t all sink in properly until I thought about it a couple of months later. At Bears and Chilly Katz everything is take away and from the very beginning we have tried to be as responsible as possible as to what we use, where we buy it from and how we disposed of it. All of our packaging is made from recycled materials and is biodegradable or so I thought when we started out, (I have since found out that only our paper products are biodegradable and plastic shake tubs aren’t). I found myself getting quite angry about this, all this paper containers that I thought was biodegrading in landfills somewhere was being burnt and all the recycled stuff from Bears was being put on a ship and sent to India or china and then possibly being but in the ground as well. This simply wasn’t good enough, this isn’t what Bears is about. Something had to change.

I felt bad, I felt like Bears was not helping the planet enough. Then the big thing happened to do with straws, everyone was jumping on the band wagon of how bad straws are for the environment. We have all seen the video of the turtle having a straw pulled from its nose, if you haven’t you should watch it and make some changes. Thankfully my mind was clear on the straws front as I got them from a company called Vegware which makes a type of plastic from plants (PTA). Their straws are compostable, they break down in 12 weeks. I spoke to Mrs Bear about this and we knew we had to do better, to help our planet one container at a time. We knew we needed to do it but weren’t sure how.

The penny dropped on how to fix all this a week or so later, it was a Saturday afternoon, I was working at Chilly Katz and a good friend of ours came in with his daughter and super cute dog Pip, I know they named their puppy after me!! Honoured. Now they had a couple of dogs and a shake. Jason (the dad, founder of Bread and Jam food founders festival and very good at the cereal box game, different blog again) said to me “Phil man, straws? This has to stop!” I told him they were Vegware and he was impressed. (we had spoken about Vegware before). Then it hit me, I MUST SPEAK TO VEGWARE, all their stuff is compostable. Everything they make is. How had I not realised this before? In my defence is I’m a boy and boys aren’t very bright.

On the Monday I called Vegware, a super helpful lady told me about their products and how it all worked. Then came the all important question “how could they compost if they were being burnt?” she told me that they would help find a company in the London area that would deal with the waste and would compost all of it!! All of it!! Now I’m not sure how many of you know this but even if you recycle everything from you home that can be recycled it has to be cleaned first and separated!! I found this out from watching a CBBC show with my daughter where they sent out some early teens to go and work in real jobs, this episode was about a recycling plant. If you put you empty plastic container in the recycling without washing it first it is just thrown away at the recycling plant. All this time I’d been getting it wrong.

The other truly awesome thing that I found out from Vegware was this, not only are all products made from plants and this means compostable but I could put all food waste in the same bags, as all the stuff at bears is either fruit or milk based. So no need to clean out the glacier containers. All packaging and food waste in the same bag, to the same place. Then all other recycling waste I have, mainly cardboard boxes could go to a separate place in a separate recycling bag and be recycled.

At last the answers to our prayers, no more waste. Everything can and will be used again. This has made both of us very happy. Mrs Bear also came up with the idea of giving instore customers the option of using a metal spoon which can be washed and then reused and as I write this I think we could also offer a service where if you bring in your own containers for your ice cream there could be a discount. As Tesco’s (the scum bags) say, “every little helps” and this will be our way of helping.

One ice cream at a time.

Now it is the time to look out for our new packaging, if you take your ice cream home, then compost the container. If you haven’t started composting your food waste, then you should. It's super easy.

Written by Mr. Bear

March 29, 2022 — Vera Thordardottir