SUSTAINABILITY MONTHLY MEET UP – VALUE NATURAL RESOURCES: 14 MAR 2023
Stopping at the signature TREEHOUSE sign, the Future Green community turns into the Central TREEHOUSE, settling into its cosy interiors in anticipation of Future Green’s March monthly meet-up. As guests nibble on flatbread chips, hummus, eggplant caviar and other plant-based goodies, we introduce this month’s focus: Value Natural Resources.
Ronal Li, Head of Growth at Urban Spring, Heidi and Christian Mongendre, Chef at TREEHOUSE
FEEDING A GROWING WORLD
One of the biggest challenges of our time is feeding the 8 billion (and rising!) people on our planet. Our current food system is undeniably unsustainable: not only does it contribute to a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, it also depletes natural resources and destroys ecosystems around the world. From farming to processing, to transport, each stage of the food system both relies on and impacts the natural world.
Globally, 80% of agricultural land is used to produce livestock feed. 70% of global freshwater is used for agriculture. Our current food production methods degrade soils and drive deforestation, causing rainforest areas equivalent to 130 Hong Kongs to be destroyed each year.
A RAY OF HOPE
Thankfully, there is some good news. The recently-introduced UN High Seas Treaty aims to protect marine life by placing 30% of seas into protected areas. By limiting shipping, fishing and deep-sea mining, the treaty is taking food production on a promising new path.
Lots can be done at restaurants too. For example, energy-efficient equipment and water conservation are good for both the planet and the utility bill. Education is also key, which is why Future Green has introduced a carbon-labelling program to educate diners on the carbon impacts of their meals. Already, the initiative has been adopted by several restaurants, including TREEHOUSE.
Christian Mongendre introducing his carbon labelled menus to the audience
NOT JUST A TREND
The first speaker of this month’s meetup is Christian Mongendre. As the founder of TREEHOUSE and a pioneer of plant-based dining in HK, Christian Mongendre is well-acquainted with sustainable resource use.
According to Christian, plant-based foods are here to stay. “Plant-based eating has been picking up more momentum, and we feel that we’re close to a tipping point. Customers are not just seeing it as an option but are actually engaging and coming more and more often…”.
TREEHOUSE’s carbon-labelling initiative has highlighted areas for improvement, and Christian hopes to make the labelling even clearer to ensure it is accessible to customers. Internal education is just as important, and Christian plans to organise team training to educate his team on what carbon footprints truly mean.
TREEHOUSE, part of the Carbon Labelling Programme
ONE DROP AT A TIME
The meetup’s second speaker is Urban Spring’s Ronald Li, who is focusing on a very specific natural resource: water. According to UNICEF, global water demand is projected to exceed supply by 56% by 2030. Yet our current water practices are still unsustainable: for example, many businesses and consumers continue to use bottled water, disregarding hidden costs such as microplastics and marine pollution. Plastic is projected to outweigh all the fish in our oceans by 2050: which is where Urban Spring comes in.
Like Future Green, Urban Spring is a B-corp. It specialises in sustainable water solutions, aiming to reduce single-use plastic bottle use by replacing them with water refill stations. The innovative solution involves a gamified aspect, and one model involves a QR code which allows users to collect ‘water points’ and win prizes upon refilling their water.
All of this aims to promote more responsible water consumption. To facilitate ESG impact reporting and tracking, Urban Spring also collects, analyses and displays impact data, helping businesses lower single-use plastic consumption, reduce carbon footprint, and optimise energy consumption.
As the session comes to a close, a Q&A session helps to address guests’ curiosities and wraps up this month’s meetup. As guests enjoy the last nibbles of TREEHOUSE’s snacks, they chatter away, already brainstorming ideas for more sustainable resource use in the future. By brainstorming together, new ideas for creating a more sustainable food future are born. Click here to learn more about TREEHOUSE.
The Sustainability Meet-Up Series is a monthly gathering designed to educate and empower the Hong Kong foodservice community – chefs, restaurateurs, FOH, BOH, suppliers and sustainability leads.
Inspired by our framework, the programme is curated to inspire the community in novel ways through which they can introduce small but significant changes to their sourcing choices, menu design, supplies, and more. We will continue organising talks and activities delivered by sustainable food industry leaders, on various themes linked to UN International Days and our three pillars – Sourcing, Society and the Environment.
Want to join our community of change makers? Get in touch to learn more about our Membership Programme.
Interested in more?
6 steps to turning messy ideas into concrete next steps with The British Chamber of Commerce3rd November
From Healthy Kids Menu to Asian-Inspired Delights: SpiceBox Organics Revamps Catering Services, Championing Sustainability and Clean Eating in Hong Kong12th October