While the definition of sustainability can be somewhat vague, it typically captures two fundamental principles: finding solutions for environmental degradation caused by economic growth and ensuring economic growth to alleviate poverty.
Sustainability is a recurrent theme found throughout this month’s issue of Baking Management, although it isn’t always spelled out in plain and simple terms. While the definition of sustainability can be somewhat vague, it typically captures two fundamental principles: finding solutions for environmental degradation caused by economic growth and ensuring economic growth to alleviate poverty.
When I look at these two fundamentals, I see a dichotomy. It’s like the old adage of ordering a Big Mac with a diet coke, where the consumer eats a high calorie, high fat-laden meal, and yet wishes to reduce his or her caloric intake.
The two basic fundamentals of sustainability–protecting the environment and ensuring economic growth can be further broken down into three interlocking segments, sometimes called pillars or circles, each of which highlights the economy, society and the environment. With regard to sustainability, the challenge theoretically rests in figuring out how to follow one path without destroying the other. In this month’s Packaging Innovations story, both Jennie Scheinbach, owner of Pattycake Bakery, and Dan Weisenbach, president of Weisenbach Recycled Products, allude to the fact that companies must be mindful of profits; otherwise, they can’t stay in business. But the triple-bottom line green business philosophy to which both Scheinbach and Weisenbach adhere also focuses heavily on people and the planet. In fact, during our discussion, Weisenbach mentioned that even during difficult economic times, he knows his company is working toward bettering his community and environment, helping him sleep at night. And by taking care of her community and trying to better her environment, Scheinbach heels her customers are rewarding her in return with their loyalty.
While it may seem easier for a smaller bakery, such as Pattycake, to operate with sustainable principles, larger bakeries generally have more resources with which to do so. Even a nominal effort can be made by reducing waste, recycling materials and having employees volunteer their time toward helping their community.
Main Street Gourmet, our innovative bakery of the year, not only encourages its employees to reduce waste that impacts the bakery’s bottom line though its War on Waste program, but it initiated several charitable endeavors during the past decade that have benefited its community. Although an episode of Seinfeld made fun of a bakery attempting to donate muffin stumps to the homeless, Akron and Canton, Ohio’s homeless and others in need of assistance surely appreciate Main Street Gourmet’s No Muffin Left Behind Program.
Throughout the years, a variety of fads have come and gone, but sustainability practices are seemingly here to stay. The baking industry as a whole can only improve its standing by following the economic, social and environmental principles of sustainability.