On Sunday  April 7th, 2019 we are sponsoring the Jersey Evening Post’s EcoJersey Countryside Clean-Up in St Brelade. Islanders are meeting up at 10. a.m. at the Parish Hall in St Aubin and the JEP will be providing gloves and bags before everyone sets off to the four corners of the beautiful Parish of St Brelade to clean up litter. The event is not just aimed at cleaning up our Jersey’s countryside but also to raise awareness and bringing people together to show that we care about our environment. The event is the first in a series of community events and initiatives organised by the EcoJersey team and JPRestaurants is proud to be sponsoring such an important initiative. EcoJersey was created to engage, inform and encourage islanders to think  about their impact on the environment.

The world we live in with its seemingly insatiable demand for tasty, quickly-served, cheap and easy-to-eat food has driven practices which are damaging our environment. It’s understandable that our customers are concerned with the impact our industry is having on our surroundings.

At Oyster Box we are concerned too. And not just because it makes good business sense. We are a fourth generation family-owned business and a team who love the natural environments surrounding our restaurants. We want our children and grandchildren to enjoy the coast and countryside as we do now. We see damage being done to our countryside and seas and want to help reduce the impact we, our suppliers and our customers have on our environment.

We welcome the increased focus on our practices and others involved in the supply of food in the but we also recognise it’s a complex area and not one where decisions can be made on a whim where environmental initiatives are packaged into sound-bite advertising adding to the “green-washing” which sometimes occurs in our industry.

As a business we continually review our environmental and other practices dependent on our own views and importantly customer and wider community feedback. We are mindful of our environmental footprint and regularly look at the impact we make on our natural surroundings, balancing against customer demand and the competitive environment.

Using recyclable cups or plastic bottles may sound environmentally friendly but if there is no widely available way to re-cycle them, which there often isn’t then they don’t really achieve their objective. Also biodegradable and compostable plastics rely on landfill and specialist facilities, which aren’t always available, to achieve the right balance.

And even biodegradable plant-based straws will release green house gases when incinerated (the main form of waste disposal in Jersey) and require cultivation of wild land which can lead to deforestation or land diverted away from food production. A final example is the labeling of food as “local” or “regional” which is often used to imply it is “good” or better than imported food. But local food farmed intensively with widespread use of chemicals can be worse for the environment than importing food produced by farmers with more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.

We feel it’s time to provide some transparency on our environmental initiatives which are driven by what we believe and also what customers have asked us to do. And you our customers are key in all our initiatives because if you don’t buy into them, we can’t have the impact we all want to see. So what have we been up to over the last few years?

We sort and separate recyclable waste and voluntarily pay a local charity to collect and process cardboard packaging and used cooking oil from our outlets because some local authorities where are restaurants are base sadly don’t provide a selective recycling pick up.

Our kitchens in all our restaurants have electric induction ranges reducing our use of carbon fuels. A significant portion of the energy we consume is produced without carbon fuels and energy usage now stops as soon as the pan is taken off the range. Most commercial kitchens using gas leave them burning for the whole service which wastes energy and contributes to green house gases.

We have stopped using single-use plastic straws in all our outlets and now supply paper and plant starch compostable straws. We have replaced bottled mineral water provided to our head office team with a water fountain. And we’ve bought reusable branded water bottles for all restaurant teams.

In 2010 we have been a sponsor and supporter of EcoJersey, a green initiative promoted by our local newspaper, the Jersey Evening Post. This year long series of events includes countryside and beach cleans.

We work with suppliers to source local food where it tastes good and importantly we ask farmers, oil and wine producers about their environmental and welfare practices. Just because food is local doesn’t make it greener. We take this into account when placing orders. This is in addition to the work we have done for years visiting and monitoring suppliers with spot checks to ensure the quality and food safety aspects of their operations. All unsold food from our sister café,  Café Ubé is taken to other restaurants and offered free to staff.

We try to work with seasonal food as much as possible because it tastes better and has less of an environmental impact. This year we’ve selected a single farm where we know the farmer and his farming practices to source our Jersey Royals and other local vegetables.

We are open and transparent with customers about our food sourcing and preparation. We are only able to do this and provide correct information by having a focus on our food sourcing, menu planning and training. This enables us to let customers know where our food comes from and what is in it but also provide them with an allergen menu showing 14 key allergens across all our menus. We are not afraid for instance to let customers know that we use frozen products, such as chips, if we feel there are superior to fresh ones.

We also don’t hide the fact that despite being surrounded by the sea, most of our fish (as with other restaurants in the Island) is imported. We have tried (and failed) to work with fishermen and government to increase the amount of local fish available on our menus. We have however recently been to neighbouring Channel Island markets to open a supply of wet fish which has been very successful. It’s the same waters so we think we can call it local. ‘Local’ fish don’t have passports! Guernsey unlike Jersey has maintained a larger fishing fleet and has good availability of great local fish like brill and turbot. Our oysters, crab and lobster is predominantly sourced from our local Jersey fishermen but we still have times when we can’t easily source local crab yet we as an island export over 60% of the crab caught locally.

We believe that transparency is as important as regulation to drive environmental practices because armed with the right knowledge we believe customers in Jersey will vote with their “environmental feet and tummies”.

We know we can do more and so we will continue to look at ways of reducing our impact on our environment. We welcome ideas and questions from customers.