Plastic Free July: Zero waste champion Indi’s ditching single-use

A New Year’s resolution to ditch the single-use takeaway cups is putting Indi’s on the track to being a zero waste café.

And owner Miles Ratima was prepared to take a loss in profits for what he sees is an environmental necessity.
“I started to see more cups in the gutters, falling out of rubbish bins and I realised I was the problem. I don’t want to give people the waste,” he says.

The decision to get rid of the takeaway cups cost the business a lot of customers, but he says many have come back with their own cups and he’s made new customers who support his zero waste stance.
“We’re a hole in the wall takeaway café we lost about 50 percent of our customers.”

The first step to zero waste, however, started with Dreamview Creamery milk deliveries; the local farm gate raw milk business started selling pasteurised milk which meant it could be purchased by the local cafes and businesses.
“We removed so much of our recycling.  I felt like I was drowning in plastic bottles, I was head high in plastic.”
This move also meant more of an expense but Miles wasn’t about to compromise for the almighty dollar.
“For me I feel better about our business. It was never about making money it was about lifestyle.”

And with that lifestyle comes the responsibility for maintaining the environment, Miles reckons.
“If you’re in hospitality in Raglan you should be educating people about waste. Every business owner should be taking care of their own rubbish and not give customers the chance to create waste in the first place.”

The café is now making its own hemp and coconut milk to offer alternatives to dairy as well as reducing the amount of tetra pak waste.
“All the decisions we have made are more expensive but you can’t put a price on the environment.”

Miles says once the first decision was made to make a reduction in their waste the rest just followed.
“You get a momentum going with the first step and then you’re looking for the next step. I hope other cafes jump on board.”

Janine Jackson