A New Designation for Drinking and Dining with Greater Peace of Mind

From fancy and famous to “grab and go” and delivery, Napa Valley offers a broad range of options for enjoying food and drink, and as a world-renowned food and wine destination has become synonymous with setting a higher standard. Napa Climate NOW!’s Waste Reduction Issue Team thinks it’s high time for that standard to be extended to the plate itself and has launched an eye-catching “Earth-Friendly” badge of honor to recognize and promote establishments that commit to more sustainable foodware practices. 

Disposable foodware (single-use plates, bowls, cups, trays, utensils, etc.) is a critical problem throughout California and the world. Not only do disposables contribute to climate change via the greenhouse gases produced in manufacturing, when discarded they create litter, pollute rivers and oceans, and harm wildlife. Many cities, counties, and states across the country have already adopted ordinances to confront the problem of proliferating single-use disposable foodware by banning Styrofoam and requiring compostable packaging, among other measures. Napa Climate NOW! has drafted an ordinance for Napa municipalities that addresses this issue locally and a dedicated team of NCN! volunteers is promoting it with the County Climate Action Committee as well as with business owners and elected representatives. (See the draft ordinance at http://napa.350bayarea.org/waste-reduction-napa ) 

“While we’re largely replicating other successful ordinances around California, refining language and ensuring buy-in takes time.” says Waste Reduction Issue Team Chair Bob Figoni. “We’re launching this decal program to help identify establishments that are already making a difference as well as those who’d rather not wait for a mandate.”  

Eating and drinking establishments can earn a Napa Climate NOW! “Earth-Friendly” designation by meeting a series of requirements, including using only reusable foodware for onsite dining and providing only natural-fiber compostable containers free of “forever chemicals”, among other practices. Businesses that meet these standards will be recognized for their commitment to the environment by receiving a distinctive decal to display with pride on their doors and near entryways. For visitors and locals alike, this decal will make an important difference when choosing to drink or dine out and provide patrons with greater peace of mind. 

“Restaurants, cafes, wineries and bars can all play a critical role in stemming the tide of plastic pollution,” says Marie Dolcini, NCN! volunteer and decal co-designer. “This program will help promote businesses that are committed to making a difference and modeling the way forward.” As a world-class destination with an economy largely dependent on agriculture, Dolcini adds that Napa Valley is well placed to position itself as an environmental leader. “Establishments that eliminate plastic single-use disposables and move to reusable are making a commitment to safeguard our landscapes, waterways, climate and wildlife. That helps ensure our future health and Napa’s high reputation.”

Of course, some local establishments have made great strides independent of this initiative and are well on their way to reducing their foodware footprint. In these cases, the Earth Friendly Eatery certification standards can serve to encourage them to take only a few more steps to make an even bigger difference. Such was the case at Southside Cafe in Napa. This popular locals’ hangout has a well-earned reputation for delicious and healthy fare and has expanded to several locations. “Responsible product sourcing, responsible portions, and responsible environmental practices are all important to us,” says Southside Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer Irma Robinson. “This certification reinforces our commitment to creating a space for the community to feel good while gathering.”


Businesses can receive an “Earth-Friendly” window decal by completing the following steps: 

WASTE REDUCTION MUST HAVES (All steps required):

1.     Use only reusable foodware* for onsite dining. (*Foodware includes dinnerware, drinkware, silverware, containers, and other items as defined in the proposed Foodware/Waste Reduction Ordinance.)

2.     Provide disposable foodware by request only for takeout/to-go orders.

3.     Use only natural fiber-based compostable and BPI-certified (or other third-party certified) disposable foodware, free of “forever chemicals,” for takeout/to-go orders.

4.     Apply a standard charge at point of sale for disposable foodware items. (Such as a 25¢ charge per cup, container, or bag as outlined in the proposed Foodware/Waste Reduction Ordinance.) 

5.     Allow takeout/to-go orders in customer-provided reusable foodware and apply a standard discount when they do. (Such as a 25¢ discount per cup, container, or bag, as outlined in the proposed Foodware/Waste Reduction Ordinance.)

6.     Follow “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot (compost)” practices throughout establishment before sending any waste material to landfill; include proper, standardized labels on receptacles.

7.     Use only paper bags or customer-provided bags for takeout/to-go orders.

ADDITIONAL STEPS: (Choose at least 3) 

1.     Prioritize working with local vendors, when possible.

2.     Reduce water consumption in front and back of the house. (i.e. Install low-flow faucets and toilets and auto-off faucet; Offer drinking water by request only; Don’t hose down outside to reduce urban runoff.)

3.     Use non-toxic cleaners.

4.     Conserve energy. (i.e. Upgrade lighting and equipment to save energy; switch to LED lighting; install solar panels; use Energy Star-certified appliances.)

5.     Follow other climate-oriented business practices. (i.e. Offer transit vouchers to employees and install bike racks to encourage alternative transport; Reduce food waste by donating excess to food recovery organizations; Make the switch from fossil fuel by choosing the “deep green” renewable energy option offered by MCE through PG&E.)

6.     Sell beverages that are not in plastic bottles. 

7.     Sell/rent for deposit reusables on site. (i.e. foodware containers, travel mugs/cups, bags.) 

For more information and/or to request a decal for your business, contact Bob Figoni, the Napa Climate NOW! Waste Reduction Issue Team Chair, at bobfigoni1@gmail.com.