Goa is known to tourists for its clubs, shacks, restaurants and pubs. The one thing that is common in most of them is the bar section. According to Outlook India, the state is home to as many as 10,000 licensed bars.
A lot of bars use packaged juices, throw away the fruit when only the peel is required, provide single-use straws and stirrers and the like. This leads to the generation of a lot of waste, not just in terms of solid waste, but also resources used for the production of single-use items and then having them recycled. In case they are not segregated and cleaned before disposal, they will be sent to landfills, which would then become a bigger problem.
So what can bars do to resolve this problem and become more sustainable?
Sustainable straws and stirrers
While plastic straws are almost done away with, paper straws and wooden stirrers are in fashion. Apart from being single-use, these often transfer their taste to the drink. The paper straws especially do not survive until the end when you are sipping slowly. In the case of stirrers, sticks of sugarcane, cucumber, etc can be used. So reusable steel straws and stirrers, apart from edible ones, maybe the best bet.
Train your team
Bartenders can be trained to make the drinks correctly; store the bottles properly; and organise their space. These simple changes can help avoid mistakes while making drinks and will keep customers happy as they will get their drinks on time. Just in case there is a mistake, the drink can be offered as a freebie instead of trashing it.
Plastic-free soft drinks
Some drinks are impossible to prepare without soft drinks. Here canned or bottled soft drinks can be used. These do not leach micro-plastic into the drinks as PET bottles do. While the cans can be cleaned and recycled, the glass bottles can be washed and used again by the company.
Buying locally ensures a lower carbon footprint and better quality produce.
Dev Narvekar, the head bartender of Petisco, a gastro bar in Panjim, says, “We try to use fresh, local produce as much as possible at the bar. We made a mango-based cocktail as a special last season, and currently, we are working on one which uses the elaichi banana. We managed to reduce some packaging waste by making our own jalapeno brine in used honey jars. While the brine is entirely used in the drinks, the jalapenos often remain. So we use those and the pulp that is left over after straining the pineapple juice to make edible leather. Many times, the drink recipes only call for fruit peels, but we make sure to use the fruit as juice, either at the bar or in the kitchen. Also, the berries that remain after straining are sent over to the kitchen and used as garnishes on desserts.”
When asked about the motivation behind reducing waste, Narvekar adds, “Why throw it away when you can use it? It pushes us to experiment and offer something different to our guests.”