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It's Not Easy Being Green...

Or is it?

Operating a business whose majority of sales are "to go" items can come with its challenges, especially when that business is located on an island where most residents are understandably concerned about the preservation and restoration of the environment.

Throw COVID-19 into the works, with the many restrictions imposed by the government for restauranteurs and coffee shops and it becomes even more difficult to keep things "green".

But, where there's a will--there's a way.

The first step that we at VL Bakery took to make a real difference was to move to Spirit Bear Coffee as our coffee supplier.

Spirit Bear Coffee was inspired by the legend of the Raven.

The story, as told on the Spirit Bear Coffee website, goes that "Raven was sent by the creator of the universe, to redesign the earth after the first great ice age of cleansing. After Mother Earth added the foliage, Raven made all the new animals big and small. Then lastly, he made a Spirit Bear--a symbolic gift of peace and harmony to all creatures of the earth."

One of the many initiatives of Spirit Bear Coffee to preserve Mother Earth and further the cause of Raven is their commitment to fund the Rescue, Rehab, and Release program at the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter where orphaned bear cubs of any species (including Clover, the Spirit Bear cub pictured above) are cared for, rehabilitated, and then released back into their natural homelands while being monitored from a distance. Another initiative is their commitment to Ocean Alliance through their purchase of drones called "SnotBots" which are able to determine exactly when a whale is about to surface, and then swoop down to collect samples as the whale's blow hole blows, without any invasive procedure or harm to the mammals. By supporting Spirit Bear Coffee, we and our customers are helping to care for those creatures whose habitats are endangered, and most at risk.

But what is the most environmentally friendly vessel in which to drink your Spirit Bear coffee? Ceramic mugs are the obvious choice, but aren't always practical. During the height of COVID, we shied away from accepting customers' reusable travel mugs--but we wholly welcome them now. Paper cups are a necessary evil for us at this point--however, we are actively researching cups made of alternate materials, and do plan to veer away from paper in the future.

An area where we have made tremendous progress is our grab-and-go cold drinks.

Gone are the nasty plastic water bottles that are filling our oceans. We now carry Earth Water in recyclable aluminum bottles. Fun fact--Earth Water aluminum bottles are infinitely recyclable. Couple that with research data that suggests that nearly 70% of aluminum cans are recycled whereas only 30% of plastics avoid the landfill and there is really only one course of action. We also have other beverage options packaged in tetrapaks with lids made of compostable vegetable-based materials so you can hydrate and feel good about it.

We have moved from plastic to compostable platters for catering, use metal cutlery instead of plastic, and use rice-based compostable wrappers for our cake slices and brownies. Our kitchen recycles everything possible, and we take two buckets of delicious food scraps to the famous Pender Pigs just past the Driftwood each day.

We have come a long way, but there's definite room for improvement. Living on Pender Island, and witnessing orcas, otters, seal lions and more creatures swimming happily past our home on a regular basis provides a unique perspective and greater urgency to make meaningful changes in the way we operate our business and how we act in general.

Life is short--help treat the planet with respect at VL Bakery.

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