Green Award 2012

Since July 2011, Trafalgars on West 16th and next-door bakery Sweet Obsessions have produced virtually no garbage. Think about that for a second. That a bustling bistro and bakery could send out hundreds of plates of food each day and generate less than a garbage bag of waste per week. The secret? An innocuous grey bin about the size of a residential chest freezer in the back lane. The GreenGood GG-50 composter eats all organic matter: bones, dairy, breads, veggies, plus compostable containers and napkins from the bakery, and 24 hours later spits out nutrient-rich soil. Come Sunday, 350 pounds of it are trucked away by Innercity Farms to fuel community gardens like the one on East Hastings Street. The up-front investment is big, no question, but even with hydro costs, the $25,000 machine will pay for itself in a couple of years. “We were spending over $1,000 a month to have waste trucked away,” says co-owner Stephen Greenham. Four times a week the restaurant shipped out over a quarter-ton of organic-matter waste (mostly water that evaporates). “Haulage fees are huge and taxes keep going up.” He and partner Lorne Tyczenski outfitted work stations, including the back of bar, with four containers labelled metal, paper, hard and soft plastics, and organics-“It helps that the city’s recycling system is recently more sophisticated, so we can now recycle things like the Styrofoam containers that the fish is packed in”-and they were away to the races. “Here’s the thing,” says Greenham. “Once you commit to doing it you realize: it’s so. Damn. Easy. And the payoff is huge.”

2603 W. 16th Ave.