Sorghum Sisters Going Green at Carlton

The Sorghum Sisters and Carlton Primary School have been working together to help support and promote initiatives with positive influences on the environment. The actions we have implemented hopefully encourage sustainability and help both, despite being in differing industries, adapt to the changing climate and reduce business costs relating to energy/water/waste services.

The more complex, longer term and investment intensive opportunities are conducted by the school that regularly have building and physical walk through audits on the operating of the school. This has lead to the installation of solar panels and water tanks on the school premises .The Sorghum Sisters actions smaller in scope range from simple, immediate and inexpensive measures by having practical ideas for minimising waste, conserving energy and water, purchasing wisely and reducing our ‘carbon footprint’.

Energy costs within the hospitality sector can vary depending on many factors. Food preparation, storage, refrigeration and long operating hours all require significant energy use. The Sorghum sisters implement simple and varied practises to reduce our businesses energy consumption. To reduce this all equipment purchased is appropriately sized for our needs and energy efficient. Equipment is turned off when not in use, the days cooking schedule is planned to be done in large batches and only necessary items are refrigerated to avoid over stocking of the fridge. All equipment is cleaned and serviced regularly to ensure efficiency and any problems are reported immediately for action.

Water waste is another area the Sorghum Sisters are mindful of. The team endeavour to minimise water usage everyday in a number of ways. These water saving opportunities include washing produce in one go for the day, scraping excess food off before washing equipment and utensils and organising the washing up to be in batches rather than bit by bit. Food is thawed over night to avoid using running water. And staff reports any leaks or repairs necessary without delay.

Another massive opportunity the Sorghum Sisters try to utilise lies in reducing resource consumption and waste generated from the kitchen. This can take many forms for example we carefully plan daily production to avoid over-prepping of food , food waste is monitored and inventory adjusted to minimise waste due to spoilage. Suppliers have as much as possible been sourced locally to try and reduce our carbon foot print. We also try ensuring food deliveries are in bulk, with minimal packaging and are upon arrival checked to be of a high quality standard to avoid spoilage. Our cooking oils are collected by a local man who re-processes the oil and converts it into fuel. We keep our egg cartons/boxes and hand back to our supplier for reuse next delivery. Bins in the kitchen are separate and distinctive for food wastes, general wastes and recyclables. In addition to the already existing paper, glass and plastic recycling we have introduced organic waste collection re-useable in feeding the schools chickens or compostable for the schools gardens and vegetable patches.

The office is another area we try to reduce waste in. Previously School lunch orders from Brunswick South came through on the schools fax machine. After calculating the amount of junk mail and actual necessary mail we received we decided to switch off the fax and receive electronic communication rather than continue to waste paper and ink toner. Before printing we think do really need a print out the document and all orders for catering are sent via email and written up on a whiteboard in the kitchen to minimise waste. The furniture used in the office and kitchen is reused old furniture donated by the school.

As part of our strategy to commit to ‘avoid, reduce, reuse and recycle’ our next step is to source and switch our packaging and disposable takeaway containers to biodegradable and recycled materials as we have with our take away plates and cutlery. Another change also planned includes using biodegradable and non-toxic cleaning products. And finally critical to the success of our sustainability program is to ensure staff and student engagement is improved by providing information and signage in common areas and continuing to create enthusiasm around our sustainability efforts.