Real business story

A creative approach to sustainability keeps customers coming back

While most wouldn’t have thought twice about throwing away the dregs of a coffee pot or remnants of a bacon sandwich, there are some who see an opportunity for something different. Meet Good Vibes Café.
Good Vibes Cafe

Good Vibes Café's dedication to sustainability has helped the business stand out

Aside from helping to lower costs, reducing waste in an interesting way can be a talking point that keeps customers coming back through the door.

“It sucks to throw things away,” said Jade Phipps, co-owner and manager at Good Vibes Café. Having this as an ongoing nagging concern inspired her to come up with some brilliantly creative uses of food and drink that would otherwise have been put in the bin.

Good Vibes Café is now making dog biscuits out of leftover bacon fat, freezing leftover filter coffee to create ice cubes for iced coffee and using roasted tomato ends to make passata for home-brew beans.

“We’re getting better at communicating the cost of things to staff. You don’t have to be a bully, it’s just about letting them know how expensive something is. In bigger chains they have to waste things, but we don’t.”

“You get to create new things at no extra cost to the business and it helps set you aside from others,” she added. “Also, our customers are interested in knowing about how we’re trying to be more sustainable. It becomes a reason why they visit.”

Becoming more efficient

As someone relatively new to running their own hospitality firm, Jade and her partner, Daniel Rossiter, are getting better at managing costs. Becoming more efficient is an important part of building a successful business in their sector and they believe in the concept of “every little helps”.

Good Vibes Cafe

Creating new items from food that would be thrown out has inspired staff to see the value in waste

Many of their cost saving ideas come from members of staff, those who are closest to the use of produce.

Using leftovers to create dog biscuits and iced coffee might seem like a small effort, but it’s managed to inspire staff to see value in waste and created a reason for customers to return and share their experience of a sustainable business with others.

Tap into the talents of staff

Jade likes to tap into the talents her staff have across the café’s two sites. “We use our staff’s talents to make the café a lovely space. From making our own table decorations out of leftover chai syrup bottles and foraged plants to crafting artwork and sign-writing, we have wonderfully clever staff,” she said.

Another key initiative is making sure employees can work across many roles, for both operational and job satisfaction reasons. “Most of our staff are trained to work both front of house and in the kitchen. This means we can always offer them shifts and we’re giving them lots of training for future opportunities. We want to set people up, have them look good on their CVs.”

Getting closer to how other hospitality businesses are getting on, something she and Dan have been making more of an effort to do recently, has been comforting for Jade. “It makes us feel like we’re not in this alone, everyone has difficult times,” she admitted. “Hearing from those who we see as at the top of their game saying they struggle with certain parts of running a business puts things into perspective.”

More small changes that work

From maximising local partnerships to reducing waste, Britain's hospitality firms are out to prove that small, creative changes can make a huge difference. Catch up with the other seven stories in the series below:

  • location: South West (England)
  • business type: Hospitality & tourism

Top takeaways

Jade has turned waste into new goods she can sell, like dog biscuits.

Going the extra mile to be sustainable can have a positive impact on customer retention

Training staff in different roles means Good Vibes Café can always offer them shifts.