We started Lost & Found with three pillars at the forefront of our business: Craft, Community and Care.
They underpin everything we do, and now more than ever we have become aware of just how important these three pillars are. Not only are these important for what we deem a successful business, but for the benefit of others within our local community and those further afield, as well as the environment in which they and all of us live.
It’s not just the people we care about, but more and more we are learning how to care better for our planet - this is just the beginning of a more sustainable future for us at Lost and Found. We believe we are “better together”, and so as a team we are learning from the ground up about what needs to change and how. We’ve been inspired by other cafes such as Bread 41 in Dublin, Coffee Collective in Copenhagen, and Origin Coffee Roasters in Cornwall, to begin making changes both achievable and immediate, as well as looking ahead longer term.
We have began to assess our day to day operations, products, suppliers, energy usage and our waste disposal, to evaluate what we’re already doing well and what we need to improve on in the coming months and years. Continue reading to discover more about where we’re beginning our journey from, and in what direction we’re heading.
Our 2021 Sustainability Report to follow in the coming weeks.
Coffee is at the core of what we do, it’s a large part of what brings people on the North Coast around a table, and it’s our mission to craft the best cup we can each time.
We have been working with Roasted Brown Coffee Roasters in Wicklow, Ireland for 3 years. Their constant strive to roast consistently delicious coffee while maintaining the highest standards across as much of the supply chain as possible, is what attracts us to them most. They work with some of the best green bean coffee hunters in the world to make sure they’re pursuing traceability. This ensures that the coffee farmers are getting paid, and are actually getting paid twice - once by the processing mill and again when the roaster/importer buys it.
When the coffee is roasted down in Wicklow it ships to us up north in cardboard boxes with paper tape, and recyclable bags. We understand that the reality of recyclable soft plastics is a tricky process to rely on, so moving forward we hope to discuss the possibility of our espresso being shipped in returnable, reusable vessels. This method is only in its infancy however, and would be at the roaster’s discretion.
We are extremely proud to be in partnership with Roasted Brown as we know that the money we (and you) spend always ends up in the right places. To learn more about their story and practices, follow this link:
Having guest coffee roasters on bar and on retail allows us to showcase exciting coffees to customers and staff. At the moment we order from guest roasters in various parts of the world, moving forward this could be an area to revise by sourcing more Irish and British roasters, or ones certified by the likes of B Corporation, to reduce our upstream supply chain emissions and actively support those doing coffee ethically and more sustainably.
We believe in respecting the resources and products we have in the cafe, this means not wasting unnecessary coffee and respecting the hard work of all the farmers and roasters involved. Ultimately, the less waste from brewing coffee the better but with the inevitable coffee grounds from pulled espresso pucks and brewed filter grounds we ensure to keep it out of landfill. All of our coffee grounds are collected by Frylite and turned into biogas and/or liquid biofertliser. This biogas is a clean renewable energy source which becomes available on the national grid. The biofertiliser produced is used by Irish farmers to fertiliser the growth of more food, and so the cycle continues. If you’re reading this and have a vegetable patch or dabble in making beauty products, send us a message and we can certainly give you our end-of-day grounds for good use!
Lastly, whilst we recommend you try our espresso and filters without milk we are also impartial to a creamy cup from time-to-time. A study by the University of Oxford (Poore and Nemecek 2018) led us to discover that drinking a 200ml serving of dairy milk once per day (for a year) produced 229kg of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to the same amount of oat milk which produces 65kg. This shows that oat milk has a significantly lower footprint than dairy, and in light of this, we decided to support customers making this choice by removing the 40p charge for oat milk. We know that by not penalising a more environmental choice could lead others to trying something new and perhaps getting a taste for the oats beyond their morning bowl of porridge!
Brunch, lunch, and sweet items are another area where craft is practiced in our cafes. Our chefs work creatively to construct recipes that adjust with the seasons. But this comes with a big environmental footprint, from where and how the food is grown, all the way down through the aspects of packaging, supplier, usage, and disposal.
To minimise some of these environmental costs, we work with local suppliers when season and availability allows. All year round we use Ursa Minor sourdough made in Ballycastle, and through the summer we often utilise having Vances Organics just around the corner in Kilrea, as well as Ballycastle Smokehouse for organically farmed salmon. We will continue to source goodness from local growers and moving forward we will try to reduce the upstream emissions of buying food from suppliers. This will involve looking deeper at our shopping lists than the name of the ingredient and supplier, and reviewing where the food was grown and how far it has travelled to get to our kitchens.
Our food waste is collected just like our coffee grounds, by Frylite. All food waste from both of our cafes is turned into biogas and/or biofertiliser, and so far from our Portstewart location alone (from July 2020 - October 2021) we have diverted 3,954kg of food from landfill. Looking ahead will utilise as much of the food as possible before throwing it away, therefore potentially reducing this number, and the amount of food producing harmful gas emissions in landfill from our cafes will be kept to 0kg. We are hoping to work with TooGoodtoGo in the coming weeks, a waste-prevention app that allows customers to buy food items i.e our bakes, at a cheaper price that would otherwise be thrown away at the end of the day - filling bellies instead of collection trucks…
(source: noissue.co.uk - compostable bags used for all online orders)
In June 2020, when reusable cups remained at home and disposables became the only way of successfully running a cafe mid-pandemic - we made the switch away from our previously used so-called “paper” cups. We discovered they were actually made with a lining of plastic that recycling facilities are unable to separate from the outer paper components. Therefore when no longer being used, the materials in those cups will pollute soil in landfills or break down to join billions of micro plastics in the ocean. By making the switch to Decent Packaging, the cups are made of absolutely zero fossil fuels and are 100% compostable from cup to lid. It’s not just drinks we switched products for, but our take-away hot food and bakes boxes, and our cutlery also got a makeover to plant-based. By using decent packaging products 151,000 pieces of plastic have been taken out of circulation, and their calculations inform us that 0.4247 tonnes of carbon has been saved. Not bad!
They do a much better job at explaining their materials than we ever could, so for the low down go to:
Since launching a wider range of merchandise in 2020, we’ve tried and tested different suppliers, and have recently landed on Stanley/Stella products for t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats. They only work with GOTS certified organic cotton (see benefits of organic cotton in the image below) recycled polyester from China and other sustainable materials such as Modal®. They’ve been recognised as a ‘Leader’ by the Fair Wear Foundation who work with garment brands and workers to improve labour conditions in factories. For more information about this supplier visit:
Our packaging outgoings have largely increased since offering our merchandise line. We’re in the process of changing all of our packaging resources from none recyclables to easily recyclable/reusable. At the beginning of this year we switched our postage bags to one thats are 100% (commercially) compostable from noissue.co.uk. These bags also include a second sealing strip which enables them to be reused at least once, with ease. How’s about using them for your toiletries on your next flight, or keeping them to send off your next Depop sale?
We still have some ways to go in ensuring every aspect of packaging is either 100% recyclable and/or compostable, for example we’re in the process of sourcing recyclable printing labels and also a paper alternative to bubble wrap. Although used on rare occasion, we still see the importance of making this change so that mugs and can be safely delivered without relying on single use plastic.
(source: Stanley/Stella Sustainability Report 2021)
People are at the very heart of Lost and Found. Across our employees, suppliers, customers and online community, we value each person and hope that this is translated through our various ways of connecting with them. We want L&F to be a warm and hospitable space for our community to eat, drink, talk and dream and this is not possible without creating the space or culture to do so. We have recently moved away from minimum wage, zero hour contracts and upped our wages to rates that exceed living costs, hoping to be accredited in the near future as a Living Wage Employer. Furthermore we have ingrained into our business a commitment to give away 10% of our gross profit to local or global non-profits. We want to bring life into our community and beyond; we want to be a community that cares. There are so many aspects involved in having people at the top of our priority list and we hope to address and improve on as many as possible in the coming months and years.
There are many more details, ideas, and thoughts to be had on this topic than are mentioned on this page. We will continue to be transparent with you, and we commit to updating these words as changes are made and further goals are set. Thank you for being part of the L&F family, we look forward to having you in our cafes and discussing any thoughts or suggestions on this topic that you may have. This is a team effort, and we’re all in!