This month is Plastic Free July, an initiative that encourages you to reduce single-use plastic. While some might find it challenging to avoid plastic when on the go and in a hurry, businesses are trying to make it possible for everyone to be more sustainable every month of the year.
At The Silo in Lewiston, the food fuels more than just your body.
"We recycle our fryer oil to use as a gas for our catering truck," said Lexi Alfiere, The Silo general manager.
Family owned and operated for 21 years, The Silo has been implementing many different ways to reduce their carbon foot print.
"In the most recent years, we introduced a reusable Silo tumbler which would be to stop the one use plastic for a cup, and we also switched over to a paper cup so if they didn't want the tumbler they could use a paper cup," Alfiere said.
In addition to paper straws, bowls, and to-go boxes. Over on Buffalo's West Side, BreadHive serves up delicious coffee, sandwiches, and of course baked goods. They too have taken steps to reduce waste.
"In the food business it's so easy to have food waste and use a lot of plastic in your take-out and we wanted to try to avoid that as much as possible," said Allison Ewing, BreadHive co-owner.
BreadHive uses paper to-go containers as well as recyclable plastic cups with a straw-less lid. And, their bags are biodegradable, just like the compost they collect each week with the help of Farmer Pirates Compost.
"We have two small garbage bins and we fill them very full of compost every week, and that's stuff that otherwise would be wasted and going into the landfill they're able to turn into garden soil basically," Ewing said.
And while businesses say these changes do cost more for them, they believe it's worth it in the long run. John Atkinson is an Environmental Engineering Professor at the University at Buffalo, and he says steps like these are definitely going in the right direction.
"One of the biggest impacts is just the visibility of it, it's the fact that people are excited about it, to be doing things that are sustainable, that are bettering the planet, and there's some momentum behind that. We saw it with reusable grocery bags now we're seeing it with straws, what's next, maybe we're going to stop driving so much, maybe we're going to have a push for electric vehicles, maybe we're going to stop eating so much meat and make changes like that, that are potentially more impactful than straws," Atkinson said.
The Silo has a goal to be completely waste free by 2025. BreadHive also plans to continue finding ways to eliminate waste. And they both hope customers will take these lifestyle changes with them, wherever they go.