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Shaking Up Sustainability was an idea created The Milk Thistle’s bar manager Sebastiano Fileccia, who has a passion for reducing waste in his own bar as well as sharing knowledge to allow others to do the same.
The event took place across the three floors of the listed building in the heart of Bristol’s city centre with guest speakers from all walks of the industry sharing and guiding attendees on how they can implement more sustainable practices in their bars.
Declan McGurk, commercial director for Boatyard Distillery, was joined by James Fowler of Terroir Tapas, eco-aware restaurant located in Bournemouth, to tackle the subject of waste within bars. Key points made by the pair included supplier partnerships. McGurk said: "A key fix is to choose partners wisely. Gain an understanding of what waste practices are employed by brands and use this information to bolster a venues own waste management strategy."
With a particular interest in packaging – a key source of waste for a lot of hospitality businesses – Fowler showcased how Terroir Tapas made all their suppliers replace boxes to instead use Terroir’s own containers. McGurk added: "The spirit world now also has numerous alternatives to glass bottles such as Boatyard’s Eco Refill pouches, Avallen’s FrugalPac paper bottle and of course the closed loop eco spirits".
Chloe Newcomb Hodgetts, founder of Gourmet Gatherings, spoke to guests about sustainable foraging and how wild ingredients should always be foraged sustainably. She detailed how wild foods should only be gathered from where they are abundant and only a small proportion collected.
Hodgetts also addressed how important definite identification is to avoid any disastrous consequences saying: "While plants are nothing to be afraid of and we eat them every day, foraging must be approached with respect, common sense and caution."
She talked guests through different varieties of forageable ingredients found across different areas of the UK from coast to hedgerows, giving them tips on how to store, preserve and extract key flavours. Topics such as which expensive ingredients could be replaced with common plants found locally and most importantly, how use the best sustainable and mindful gathering practices.
We also heard from Tim Etherington-Judge, co-founder of Avallen, a planet positive spirit, who discussed increasing the biodiversity on your back bar. Etherington-Judge highlighted how almost all spirits are made of industrial monocrops, a type of growing a single crop year after year on the same land which can lead to soil erosion.
He said: "The easiest and quickest way for a bar to improve its environmental impact is through purchasing sustainable products. Boost your bars sustainability by purchasing spirits made from tree fruits, such as Avallen calvados, products made from waste, such as Discarded, and brands owned or founder by black, indigenous and people of colour."