Zero Waste Blog
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The Poor CreatureApril 30, 2019
“Life is for all poor creatures to enjoy. Good food helps.”
If you’ve been to the new NorthLight Innovation Hub on 2nd Avenue you might have noticed a little corner cafe has set up shop.
The Poor Creature opened its doors on December 3, 2018 and serves up delicious plant-based hot meals, salads, coffee, freshly baked goods and sweet treats.
“We care about our ingredients, and you” states their website. Owner Brioni Connolly and her team cook everything from scratch using plant-based ingredients and whole foods. They don’t use palm oil or refined sugar, and the ingredients they use are ethical and local whenever possible.
The cafe sources organic ingredients from places like the Potluck Food Co-Op in Whitehorse and Organic Matters in Nelson, BC, ordering things in bulk as much as possible to reduce waste. Brioni is currently talking to a number of Yukon farmers to figure out how they can supply her kitchen. They reuse materials as much as possible, “recycle like crazy,” and minimize their use of plastic – and it shows.
This tiny bag of garbage was all that was created in a week of work at The Poor Creature. Their dedication to reducing what they use, reusing and recycling means there’s little left to go in the garbage. (The Poor Creature)
“I always daydreamed about opening a cafe,” says Brioni. “When I went on maternity leave in 2016, I started doing market research and business planning on the rare occasion my son Luan would nap.”
Brioni applied for the open cafe space at NorthLight and was chosen to set up shop. So what’s on the menu?
The recipes are a collection Brioni has built over the years, and the menu is constantly changing. Some of the offerings include homemade masala chai (with lots of ginger!) and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (delicious!). They also have a great selection of rotating lunch options, such as Asian tofu stew, roasted parsnip soup, potato and roasted hazelnut salad, and many others. They also offer espresso now, using organic and fair-trade coffee from Bean North Coffee Roasters.
The cafe has been a hit for Yukonstruct and Cospace members as well as other hungry Whitehorse workers.
Tikka Masala is just one of the hot lunches served up on The Poor Creature’s ever changing menu. (The Poor Creature)
The Poor Creature has recently started offering Zero Waste take-out options, providing food in reusable mason jars. Customers pay a deposit for the jar and can return it to get the money back (or refill it). They also have an extra charge for compostable take-out containers to encourage customers to bring their own containers.
Zero Waste take-out is now on the menu as well, customers can pay a deposit for the jar and bring it back to be re-filled! (The Poor Creature)
The Poor Creature also sells nothing in plastic, offering only canned beverages and ensuring everything that goes out the door (even the tea bags) is plastic-free.
“We hardly create any garbage,” says Brioni. Almost everything they use is compostable or recyclable, and they only generate a small amount of garbage from things like soiled aluminum foil. They also separate edible compost from non-edible and give the edible scraps to a local farm that raises hens.
The idea of using less, reusing, and striving for Zero Waste is front and centre in the cafe’s activities. Recently, they repurposed the old Super-Valu sign that was salvaged by Yukonstruct’s former executive director Jarret Slipp during NorthLight’s renovations. Brioni sees this as a neat way to reuse but also to pay homage to what came before and the people who made Whitehorse what it is today.
The old Super-Valu sign makes a neat addition to the cafe’s aesthetic, and pays homage to what came before. (The Poor Creature)
The Poor Creature is a shining example of how the food service industry can operate with a minimal footprint and model Zero Waste for its customers.
So stop in, grab a chai, and don’t forget your reusable mug!