Please help us care for the environment

 Earth is under great stress. From litter strewn across the countryside, to falling numbers of birds; from plastic particles floating across the world’s oceans, to the warming of the planet as we burn fossil fuels, we are rapidly damaging our planet. The environment is all of our concerns and we must all take dramatic actions to avoid a climate catastrophe within our lifetimes.

Here at the Guardhouse we are optimistic about human ability to overcome these challenges and, based in such a beautiful spot, very aware how wonderful nature is. Our little cafe sits in a national nature reserve, surrounded by sea on three sides, with rare wildlife on view every single day. We have a duty to the Guardians of Berry Head and take many steps to play our part.

Reducing plastic and single-use packaging

Everyone is aware of the damage that plastic particles are doing to the oceans. As a result we have taken many steps to cut down on plastic use. However we always try to look at the bigger picture for the environment: e.g. the carbon footprint of paper bags and glass bottles is huge, compared to using plastic! So with each change we’ve tried to think carefully about how to reduce our consumption, not just swap to another type of material.
• Straws are now made from paper – but we only give them out if you ask.
• Most soft drinks are now in alumium cans, because the research suggests the overall carbon footprint of aluminium (as long as it is recycled) is lower than plastic bottles.

• Capri suns have gone – we have cups of squash available instead
• Small wrapped items like KitKats have largely gone too – we have plenty of lovely homemade cakes.
• We always offer tap water and are happy to refill bottles.
• Single-use items such as sachets for ketchup and sugar were removed in recent years, using instead a pump system for Ketchup and lumps for sugar.

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 One of our particular bugbears is Takeaway Cups. These have somehow become an essential part of modern life yet the impact on the environment is huge. Before Covid we were really at war with them – the need for takeaway in the last year has scuppered this to some extent, but we will reinstate our policies as soon as we can.
• In normal times, we charge a 25p latte levy for takeaway cups, which we donate to environmental charities. And we offer 10% discount on takeaway drinks when customers bring their own cups.
• We also sell reusable cups for just £7.50 (including a drink).
• We ensure that ALL our takeaway packaging is biodegradeable – although question whether this really helps the environment – the best option is not to use a throw-away item!

Covid was a disaster for our policies on single-use packaging of all types, we even had to go back to sachets for ketchup to avoid people having to handle the saucomat pumps.

Using local and seasonal food

Transporting food across the world is standard in our modern world. At the Guardhouse we do everything we can to keep this to a minimum. For example we use locally-caught fish, milk and cream from south-west dairies, vegetables which are in season, and beer brewed only 5 miles from the cafe.

Plenty of our ingredients (coffee for example!) inevitably do come from abroad but we use local suppliers to keep the final stage food miles low. We also look at how our suppliers treat the environment: for example we have chosen to buy coffee from Owens because their beans are all fairtrade and rainforest alliance certified, their entire process is organic, and their roaster is very modern with ultra-low CO2 emissions.

Meat-free options

We always ensure we have delicious and unusual options for breakfast, lunch and sweet treats to suit a vegan and vegetarian diet. Oat and soya milk are available for drinks. If each of us cut our meat intake by half, it would have a huge impact on our carbon footprint.

Re-use & recycle

We recycle all our aluminium, plastic, glass and cardboard waste. Where possible we go further and try to reuse: we are helped in this by an amazing local man called Dennis who supplies us with things like soap and washing up liquid. Rather than bring us new plastic containers each week he refills our containers from large bulk supplies in his van.

Dennis has a particularly innovative solution for the ‘cartridges’ of hand soap & sanitiser which are standard in our industry. Most places throw away these heavy-duty plastic containers after each use. But Dennis has supplied us with special reservoirs to go inside the soap and sanitiser dispensers, which we can refill from a 5L plastic container – which in turn he refills from his bulk supply.

Each year we avoid many bins full of plastic bottles as a result of these steps. Thanks Dennis!