Alpine Bakery (Whitehorse)
Alpine Bakery has been diverting waste and reducing its environmental impact for 21 years – as long as it’s been in its current building at 5th and Alexander street in downtown Whitehorse.
Composting at Alpine Bakery began before the city even began its residential curbside compost pickup, with the help of local farmers who would take it away to be turned into food for their plants. Currently that farmer is Michael Bellan, and owner Suat Tuzlak says that “it’s a real community effort – I couldn’t do it myself.”
Recycling is also a regular part of the bakery’s operations, with a van that was “purchased” in exchange for bread and is used to take things for drop of about once a week. Additionally, they are extremely careful about reducing as much as possible the amount of waste that customers take away with them and their products.
Their café uses real dishware for patrons eating in-house, and when Suat gave this writer a plastic container full of soup to take at the end of the interview, he encouraged that it be returned when finished.
Alpine is also extremely conscientious about waste and other environmental impact on the input side of its operations as well. Cleaning supplies and things like toilet paper are all post-consumer recycled (where applicable) and biodegradable. Alpine grows its own herbs in a backyard garden, and buys other ingredients locally when possible, thus reducing produce packaging and transportation, and supporting the local economy. Energy consumption is minimized, including practices such as hanging all laundry to dry instead of using a dryer, which is one of the most energy- intensive appliances. Indeed, when their current building was first being constructed the bakery explored using renewable energy such as wind to power much of their operations, but due to liability concerns it was never implemented.
For Suat, these decisions are not simply a desire to engage in corporate responsibility, or be able to take on a “green” label. It is a political choice, and a form of resistance to what Suat sees as a concerning trend of large multinational corporations being able to use large amounts of energy and produce large amounts of waste in their production. He articulates his desire to see greater enforcement of environmentally responsible practices, in the form of things like better education about alternative methods, and taxes to incentivize their use. “Gently at first,” he says, “and then enforcement. We need to show the real costs of production, and show that the current methods in most places just aren’t actually viable.”