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Plant-based cups and noodle straws help St. Pete coffee shop become zero-waste certified

The goal was to divert 90 percent of their waste from landfills and incinerators

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reduce, reuse, recycle and compost. 

These are practices that Black Crow Coffee, located in the Old Northeast district in St. Pete, have embraced. So much so, that they are now certified zero-waste. 

It’s a journey the local coffee shop started in April of 2018.

The goal was to divert 90 percent of their waste from landfills and incinerators, a standard that is considered zero-waste. It's a goal that only took them seven months to reach.

"To me, a coffee shop is a perfect place to start" Deanne Hawk, co-owner of Black Crow Coffee said.

One of the first steps she took to becoming more eco-friendly was reducing, and eventually eliminating, single-use plastic.

"Anything that left this place was going to be a compostable item," she added.

Their plastic cups are now cups derived from plants, long noodles replaced straws, and reusable bags used for coffee beans. But, it was more than replacing their to-go containers. 

The entire layout of the coffee shop shifted.

"We realized that the habits that the customers had, we need to shift them," Hawk said.

Cup lids were moved away from the register, and the trash and compost cans are in one location, with a visual display showing what goes where.

While these are seemingly simple changes, the changes can be tricky for a small business. 

The added cost of specialty cups and composting fees can be worrisome. 

Luckily, Hawk says it's worked out for the best, 

"Ultimately, customers use less and we have more customers coming to us because of our sustainability beliefs and values," she said. 

Basically, money saved in one area is used to offset the cost in another. By washing and reusing rags, they'll be able to save nearly $1,500 a year. 

Hawk still has some changes she wants to implement, but says she hopes the changes she made so far will inspire others to do the same.

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