I believe strongly in running a business that is as sustainable as possible. The reality is, creating food can be heavy on carbon footprint due to the energy used in the process and the manufacturing of ingredients used, but I believe in taking responsibility for all elements within my control and making the best decisions I can for the planet we live in, for me as a business and for you as the customer.
I constantly review my processes and supply chain to ensure I am buying the most sustainable ingredients and packaging possible that go into making my products. Progress, unfortunately, does not make perfect in any instance relating to sustainability as we are constantly evolving, learning and changing our practises as the world changes, but small steps and taking ownership is something I can achieve as best I can. Read on for more information on all the elements I consider as part of my sustainability ethics:
Food sourcing and packaging:
I purchase in bulk where possible (eg. 25kg butter, 25kg flour, 10kg chocolate etc) to reduce the volumes of packaging I receive into the business. All of these come in recyclable packaging. Some items however that are perishable/not long life and have to be purchased in smaller volumes, I either source from a refill retailer or purchase items based on their recycled/recyclable packaging credentials and their country of origin.
Naturally, some items such as dairy and chocolate have a high carbon footprint due to their production and manufacturing methods and the nature of their farming. As these are ingredients vital to creating my recipes for their taste and texture, I try to do my bit by purchasing in bulk to reduce packaging etc. I strictly decline any requets for ‘fake tiers’ in wedding cakes as these are made of polystyrene and take years to break down.
All dairy, eggs and flour are farmed and manufactured in the UK. My butter, for example, is sourced from Meadow and Harvey & Brockless (Croxton Manor). Based on the carbon emission measurements for milk production from 2021, Meadow Butter is 64% better than global average and 16% better than the UK average. Their target in carbon is for a further 10% reduction by 2025 in carbon emissions per litre. They aim to be fully net zero by 2050.
Other ingredients such as chocolate that would not naturally be farmed and manufactured in the UK are sourced carefully considering their sustainability credential. Eg. Swiss manufacturer Callebaut commit to a zero cocoa sourcing from deforested areas or regions that would have been deforested after December 31 2020.
Packaging is sourced again in bulk to minimise packaging. Cake boxes are fully recyclable and cake boards are reusable if you want to keep them for creating your own cakes at home! I use dowels for wedding cakes made of bamboo (many suppliers use plastic ones which are single use). All my postal packaging is also recyclable and film wrap used for tasting boxes is biodegradable. Wedding favours are provided in biodegradable pouches with natural raffia ties (also biodegradable) unless specified otherwise by the client. None of my packaging is single use plastic.
Since all elements of my cakes are handmade and are made of natural ingredients only I do not buy items such as plastic bottles of food colourings, acrylic cake toppers, artificial flowers, artificial cake decorations etc.
All of my cakes are vegetarian (some suppliers use gelatines) and there are no hidden extra charges for dairy free or vegan cakes.
All my cakes are delivered by me via car. I group my deliveries and routes together to make for the most efficient driving route. My car has a 114g/km CO2 emission rate. Anything less than 100g/km is considered low/good. Although I’m not quite under this figure, price of vehicle is obviously a consideration for a sole trader and it was the most sustainable vehicle I was able to purchase at the time. In comparison,the average UK petrol car emits 170g/km so in context I think it’s pretty good!
Production & equipment:
Obviously, food production uses significant amounts of energy! My kitchen studio is entirely supplied with 100% renewable energy (there is no gas on the premises), from water heating, oven power, equipment plugged in and the heater for when it’s chilly (the oven usually keeps me warm though!). Induction cooking is used for maximum efficiency. Batches of eg. cakes, buttercreams etc are more often than not, produced in large batches for maximum efficiency meaning my oven is on for a shorter period of time but baking more items at once. Refrigeration equipment is sourced from Foster who are the only commercial refrigeration manufacturer to receive the Carbon Trust Standard for over 10 years, awarded to organizations for real carbon reduction.
I grow small volumes of organic flowers at my premises which are always used as much as possible. I aim to source organically grown local flowers within a 5 mile radius from my premises. If I need to purchase flowers from a florist I aim to purchase British grown flowers where possible but unfortunately this is something outside of my control.
Flowers provided by wedding florists at the direction of a wedding couple are outside of my sourcing control and unfortunately I am not able to govern their growing methods or location.
I do make clients aware of the options when choosing the decoration of their wedding cake and what the negative and positives are of these options.
Fruit and herbs: I grow small volumes of fruit and herbs at my premises which is always used as much as possible. All fruit and herbs are organically grown.. I aim to buy British where possible and I always opt for the ‘wonky/excess/reject’ fruit and vegetables!
I sort and recycle packaging that can be recycled. Where the local council doesn’t recycle (eg. some food packaging) I take these items to a local recycling facility instead.
Any food waste that cannot be consumed (eg. lemon pith, strawberry tops) goes to food waste recycling or compost. Any fresh items leftover such as berries are made into compotes, or frozen if the taste will not be compromised. (eg. it is particularly common and actually more desirable for frozen fruit to be scattered into cake batters). I operate on a ‘use whole fruit’ basis ie. recipes that require all of a product, eg. zest and juice of a lemon. Where there is excess waste eg. orange peel, I transform these ingredients into edible decoration, eg. dehydrated or candied so that the entire fruit is eaten. I manage stock holding and product shelf life extremely carefully to ensure that I am not holding more than necessary or where an item will surpass its use by date. I operate a see/smell/taste policy on items that no longer offer a use by/best before date on it’s packaging (eg. milk). Food waste such as egg shells are kept and shared amongst the local community for plant protection use and chicken calcium feed.