By Elaine Munro, Director of Sustainable Operations
A few months ago, we started an in-house project called, “Grow a Tree in Your Cup”. Very simply, we offered organic, fair-trade, bird-friendly coffee (tea and hot chocolate) for a toonie. By changing a small, daily habit from a “franchise” option to a “conscious” option, we wanted to demonstrate that you don’t have to sacrifice too much to make an environmental difference. In fact, the options tasted so much better that the coffee truck now by-passes our facility!
Small Changes Can Make a BIG Difference
As beverage volumes grew, we made it easier for people to extend the option to at-home use and started selling coffee by the jar.
So how does this connect to trees? All proceeds from our beverages went into a fund that would allow us to buy trees and plant them in needed areas of Toronto. The need for planting trees after Toronto Ice Storm 2013 was significant - the tree canopy was reduced by 20%. Through a very dedicated group at Ontario Streams, we planned our tree-planting day for early May. By the time the last toonie rolled in, we had raised enough funds for 513 trees!
Our planting site was in the north part of the city, at the head water of the Rouge River (500m from its source). It was a perfect sunny warm day and twenty-two of our staff and their family members turned out to plant our first batch of trees. We planted indigenous shrubs including grey dogwood, silky dogwood, common elderberry, choke cherry and meadowsweet.
One of the amazing ripple effects of bringing these plants to this delicate stream-side location was the benefit of providing shoreline shade.
This will provide much-needed habitat conditions for an endangered small fish (red side dace) that flourishes in cool running water.
How cool is that! Not only was there a “tree in our cup” but also a small fish that needs a bit of human TLC.
We’d like to thank Lisa and Peter from Ontario Streams for organizing our tree planting and all the amazing work they do! Also a shout out to Birds and Beans Coffee who do the right thing with an amazing selection of organic, fair-trade coffee that tastes AMAZING! And last but not least, a heartfelt thank you to our staff for their willingness to make a small change and then to roll up their sleeves and get dirty!
This will definitely be an annual tradition as part of our Go Green TAKE ACTION program at Progressive Nutritional Therapies!