As things currently stand, by 2050 there could be more plastic in our waters than fish. This is quite an upsetting prediction. Not just for fish and ocean lovers, but for anyone with even a modicum of environmental awareness, which seems to be most people after Blue Planet’s watershed series last year…pun intended. With the programme being a catalyst for change across the restaurant industry over the last eight months, we thought we’d share our perspective on the single use plastic discussion.
What are the changes being made? Do they make a difference? What are the other challenges faced by the restaurant, food & drink industry? And, in terms of impact, how does the problem of single use plastic measure up against other global environmental problems?
What’s all the fuss about?
Mainly the unfathomably large amount of waste we’ve produced, the havoc it seems to be wreaking on the animal kingdom and the unknown effects of micro-plastics on humans. Since the 1950s we have produced 6.3bn tonnes of plastic waste.
Of that, only 9% has been recycled and 12% incinerated. The rest has been left on nature’s doorstep with some going into landfills. However, most ends up in the sea, where salt water and UV light break it down into micro-plastics small enough to be consumed by and collect within fish.
The effects of these micro-plastics on fish are still being determined, but there is some evidence that they absorb toxic chemicals and then release them in an animal’s digestive system. Another study revealed quite a disturbing set of results whereby nano-plastic particles lodged inside fish brains made them eat slower and explore their surroundings less.
Although there is no evidence that links the harmful effects of micro-plastics to human brain tissue or human health in general, it does make one wonder what the future holds for the fishing and restaurant industry.
In terms of people’s current aversion to single use plastic, it is mainly the ‘eww’ factor and the effect on animals that has captured the nation’s hearts. This in turn is motivating the restaurant industry to ban plastic straws and introduce recycling measures, amongst other things.
The Blue Planet effect…
AKA the naughty school kids effect, is quite an interesting phenomenon to consider before moving on to what the restaurant industry has done, is doing and pledges to do in the fight against single use plastic and the drive for a sustainable future.
Sticking with the school metaphor…it is as if, prior to Blue Planet, we were all passing notes around about some piece of gossip. Except it wasn’t about who did what at the weekend, it was about the environment. We were all part of the rumour mill, sharing our tidbits like conversation fodder. Each of us trying to shock one another and perhaps ourselves into action.
Some of us even joined an after school club to try and make a difference or occasionally became an eco warrior on the weekend. But it took the headmaster (Sir Attenborough) to stand up in assembly and school us, with simple words and devastating pictures, for us to be collectively affected.
Collectively being the operative word here. Most people will have seen videos on social media or heard from a friend or learnt at school or saw in the paper that climate change is an issue and that we are screwing the environment, but because all these instances happened on micro occasions, as individuals or in small groups, we could ignore them.
However, when roughly a sixth of the country sits down to watch a television programme and talks about it with each other the next day, we all had to look each other in the eye, like naughty school children caught with our hands in the cookie jar. We had to collectively do something. So as the media got involved and the people resolved to change, the restaurant industry was forced to evolve to meet consumer expectations. But how much change has been made and is it for the right reasons?
Single use crackdown in the restaurant industry
Some in the food & drink industry have been espousing a reusable and recyclable way of life for some time now. Namely Borough Wines & Beers, one of our longest-standing clients, whose wonderful shops can be found across London, nationwide and online.
They pioneered “the environment (and wallet!) friendly wine and beer refill system” whereby you bring your own bottle or buy one of theirs and refill it from their lovely barrels. The barrels are filled using wine from large boxes and these boxes have a considerably lower carbon footprint compared to a 75cl bottle of wine. This is due to the manufacturing, storage and transport costs involved. And, as mentioned, the price of refill wine is slashed for the consumer (by about 50%) making it win win. Although, overall consumption of wine may go up!
Apart from small independent shops and chains, like Borough Wines and Beers, the use of reusable items is not hugely prolific. Unlike the replacement of plastic straws with biodegradable or paper alternatives, which has been widely adopted across the restaurant industry. The banning of plastic straws seems like a success story then right? But before we cheers each other with our coffee cups and paper straws, maybe we should look at what our cups are made of…Also, why haven’t straws and cups always been paper?
The truth is that even an easy shift like plastic to eco-friendly straws is ruled by economics. Previously plastic was the cheaper option, but now being environmentally friendly has its cost benefits. First, in terms of customer loyalty. According to the Sustainable Brands organisation “80% of consumers say that they would feel more loyal to brands that value community and environmental growth over money and status.” Second, in terms of ROI. The CDP produced a report showing how businesses get an 18% higher ROI when they have a CSR strategy against those who don’t.
The Green Pound
But does it matter that some restaurants may only ban single use plastics in order to capture the green pound? In some ways no, for ultimately as long as consumers care, it’s the end result that matters. But in some ways yes, because true sustainability is about changing the business model, so that purpose comes before before profit.
Purpose and profit must be going hand in hand, however, when the likes of Coca-Cola and McDonald’s get involved. The former has promised to collect and recycle the equivalent of all the drinks containers it sells each year, which amounts to around 110bn plastic bottles. The latter plans to make all its packaging from recycled or renewable sources by 2025.
With these big hitters in the restaurant industry playing ball, single use seems to be on its way out.
Single use smokescreen
Although ethical spending has doubled in the last ten years and although there is extra limelight on being more sustainable, is it possible that the banning of single use is a smoke screen for most in the restaurant industry? It is hard not to say yes when one considers how less than 7% of the of U.K. restaurants are members of the SRA – the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
It is made even harder when one looks at the waste produced by the restaurant industry. According to the Green Restaurant Association, the average restaurant wastes between 25,000 and 75,000 pounds of food every year with the total amount of waste produced by the U.K.’s food and hospitality sector reaching 1m tonnes according to WRAP. By WRAP’s calculations 75% of that waste is avoidable and the worst offender within that group is the restaurant industry.
Food waste might not seem as bad because you think of it as biodegradable, but when you think of it in terms of manufacturing, packaging (hello again single use), transport and storage, its alarming impact starts to add up. For instance, the food wasted by the UK restaurant industry each year creates the same amount of CO2 as running 400,000 cars.
Now that we’ve begun to look at different factors affecting the environment it is worth noting how single use plastics are a relatively small problem to humans globally. Also, the single use catastrophe is mainly being carried out in Asia. This was proven last year by scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research whose work found that ten rivers discharge 90% of all plastic marine debris and eight are in Asia.
Credit: Cheryl Ravelo/Reuters
But let’s put our single use finger wagging to one side as it appears there are environmental issues far more serious than single use plastics, at least in terms of costs to human beings. Trucost and the United Nations Development Programme have both released data on environmental costs and where plastic litter costs $13bn per year, the cost of overfishing, fertiliser run off and ocean acidification have been estimated at $50bn, $800bn and $1.2trn a year.
Also they found that if plastics were replaced with comparatively heavy wood and metal substitutes, the greenhouse gas emissions would quadruple. To put this into more real terms for the average UK shopper: a cotton tote bag should be used 131 times before it beats a plastic bag in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
It would seem from a macro point of view that the single use problem is simply the cherry on top. Hence perhaps why it has been so easy to tackle. Like an unpleasant cherry sitting on a very unpleasant sundae, it is the easiest thing to extract. When it comes to the layers and layers of other problems, which are all melting together to create a sticky armageddon-sized mess, we don’t know where to start.
The problems are so deeply entrenched and part of our lives. But one part of our behaviour we can change is to stop unnecessary single usage. Also, it is often the way, that after making one change you feel empowered to make another, so even if it is on an individual level and even if it is only a small step in terms of restaurant industry wastage, one has to feel that this is the beginning of something. This is a sea change as it were, because what we put into the sea has to change!
Education, incentivisation and mobilisation. These are the three ‘ations’ that need to be kept front of mind for restaurants and other businesses, as well as governments, schools and communities.
So there! JAMS has spoken. For now anyway. But keep your eyes peeled for our review of Petersham Nurseries, whose sustainability efforts are worth remarking on!
Team Tip – ecoffee make really great reusable coffee cups that are made from one of the most sustainable products on the planet – bamboo. And they look very pretty too!
In case you can’t be bothered to make your own and seeing as the weather is more dubious these days, why not try one of our recommendations for best burgers in town?
But first, it’s worth knowing that many restaurants participate in the Mr. Hyde National Burger Day celebrations which offer exclusive discounts. Simply visit the website, fill in a form for your chosen venue and download the voucher to your phone.
We’ve marked the burgers that are part of the scheme below.
Best Burger for Size
If you want a bun and patty the size of a main course plate, then you better head to Smith & Wollensky. Weighing in at 5lb this mammoth burger is eight times the size of their usual burgers and includes a hash brown, roasted Portobello mushrooms, beer battered onion rings, streaky bacon, mozzarella, confit tomatoes, fried eggs and jalapeno sauce.
What’s more you can eat the pre-ordered burger for free, IF you can finish it that is. The only condition of this Man vs. Burger showdown is that only one person may attempt the gargantuan feat. Don’t forget to book and if you would rather watch the madness unfold while eating something more modest you can enjoy their range of new one-off burgers which include: Prawn and Chorizo burger (£15), Dirty-Double cheeseburger (£13) and their Braised Short Rib burger (£13).
Best for Classic Fast Food
When we say classic fast food, we don’t mean you should actually head to Maccy Ds or Burger King, but rather test out the best imitation of those kinds of burger. Except this time they include delicious well sourced ingredients and therefore cost a lot more. But believe us, it’s worth the extra sheckles when you try either of the following two burgers…sorry we couldn’t decide.
First up is Hawksmoor’s Big Matt. No prizes for guessing which burger this is an homage to…yes, indeed it’s your childhood friend, the Big Mac, but this time the patty has been made from the same grass-fed, dry-aged British beef that Hawksmoor uses for its sirloin. Succulent, simple and with two patties, you will be lovin’ it…
Also high on your agenda for simple, classic fast food should be Shake Shack’s signature Shack Burger. The well charred patty gets sandwiched between the more alternative potato roll, layered with a good dollop of American cheese and, to finish it off perfectly, we would order sliced raw onion, extra pickles and a slab of tomato.
Best for Indulgence
Sometimes you want the richest thing on the menu, so you really can’t do much better than Mac and Wild’s Venimoo burger. Not only does it include a hearty patty that is made from Angus beef and wild venison; the mixture of which makes for a beautifully musky, gamey taste, but the burger bulges out of a brioche bun, oozing cheese and the piece de resistance, a waterfall of Bernaise sauce.
This dripping gold goo not only tastes lavish, it looks so as well, which means you can act like the rich kids of instagram when you post your food porn pic to all your carni friends.
A close second for living life on the indulgent side this National Burger Day is the The Patate, which pops up in various locations around London. It eschews the patty in place of a pleasantly unctuous portion of beef bourguignon that sits in a bun inside a camembert box and of course comes with a chunk of melting camembert on top. Oui s’il vous plait!
Best for Feasting
The clue is in the name for this one, as you need to head to Street Feast; Canada Water’s huge indoor/outdoor mega food market. Except you need to head there on Thursday 30 August, i.e. a week after the official National Burger Day. Mr. Hyde and Street Feast have made a clever move here.
By asking all the big burger players to create a one-off special burger for this occasion they don’t detract guests from their restaurants the week before. It’s win win for them and for fans of the humble burger. There will be veterans, newcomers, dessert places and even a vegan debut. Tickets are a little spenny at £15, but you do get an icy-cold Budweiser plus a MacPickleback shot as well as giveaways and games, like Burger Pinata! What’s not to love?
Best for Pork
Bar Bouloud isn’t a burger joint that immediately springs to mind, but then it’s not really a burger joint. It’s a rather classy little restaurant situated in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge and it has a price tag to match with burgers costing between £17 – £24. At the steeper end of the menu is their signature BB burger, which rather extravagantly includes a beef patty, foie gras, short ribs, horseradish mayo, confit tomato and black onion seed bun. While this is a runner up for most indulgent burger, it is obviously not our ‘Best for Pork’ recommendation.
For this, we chose the Piggie, which comes in at a slightly more modest £19. Although when you tuck your trotters in to this exquisitely stacked burger, you’re going to feel like a rich pig in s***. It might not be massive, but it really delivers on flavour because of the addition of BBQ pork. Also accompanying the beef patty you’ll find jalapeno mayo and red cabbage, which sits inside a cheddar bun. It’s just delicious and due to the price, a good one to try for a treat, like National Burger Day for instance…
Best for Chicken
Long reigning chicken supreme are the Chick ‘n’ Sours burgers, which are filled sky high with chunks of ridiculously crisp free-range chicken and slathered with crackalicious sauces. Unsurprisingly, you will make a mess, but thankfully, you won’t care, as this is the best fried chicken in mother-cluckin’ town! Therefore, we advise not taking a date there to avoid your Genghis Khan-got-the-munchies impression going down like a condom balloon. Our favourite is the K Pop – Fried thigh, Gochujang mayo, chilli vinegar & Asian ‘slaw, all for £12 and best enjoyed with their Hunan Cucumbers and Dripping Fries.
Best for Vegans
Now because options are limited for the vegan brigade, we thought we’d be extra kind and throw in two options here. One allows a vegan to go to a restaurant with their omnivorous mates and the other is for going full vegan.
Let’s start with the former as it’s the most inclusive – to humans anyway 😉 – it’s Patty & Bun*; everyone’s favourite hipster burger hang out that makes rather naughty sloppy burgers that leave you looking like you’ve rolled around in them! Luckily for a vegan, they can get the same effect from their Whoopi Goldburger. Inside the bonsoy bun is a tempeh and mushroom fritter which is crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside and when combined with the double-smoked vegan gouda cheese, you get the oozing, stringy hit to the mouth that makes you smile…in a cheesy way.
For a National Burger Day worthy of your vegan crew, we recommend The Full Nelson in Deptford. It might be a schlep for some, but it’s totally worth it for the multiple options on their veggie/ vegan menu. We like things spicy so recommend the Sith burger. The “beef” burger comes with Deptford Death sauce, Sriracha mayo, spicy cheese, jalapenos, onion & more hot sauce, as well as tomatoes, pickles and finely chopped lettuce! Winner, winner, vegan dinner.
*Participating in the Mr Hyde 20% discount deal on selected burgers only.
We hope one of those tickles your fancy this National Burger Day, but if not, let this food & drink PR agency know what you think is missing from our list by commenting below! Also, if you are making your own at home, check out our guide to how best to assemble your burger.
Festibowl 2018 is over, with the final FridayNightPartyBowls session taking place on August 3, but because it so clearly captured the hearts of Londoners this summer, we thought it fitting to do a short review of what made it such a huge success and a lifestyle sport for the future.
Did someone order a heatwave?
Yes, climate change has reared its scary head, but that head has also been (un?)ashamedly pleasant…for where there is unusually consistent heat there are Londoners forced to seek out more and more outlandish ways to enjoy their summer evenings. And it doesn’t get more outlandish or quintessentially British than lolling on a beautiful bowling green surrounded by white garden parasols and colourful bunting that wafts the wry voice of a Master of Ceremonies gently lampooning all the goings on, dressed in bowler hat and braces. Welcome to Festibowl; a laid back and slightly tongue in cheek lawn bowls experience for 21st Century summertime revellers.
With a record-breaking heatwave there was a noticeable slowing down in the city, which might have lead to a more lackadaisical approach to lawn bowls, but that was certainly not the case in Finsbury Square this summer. In fact, games got pretty heated…
Whether it was a showdown between World Champion Ellen Faulkner and a competitive chap with beginners luck, a group of lads on a Friday night or a company summer party with tournament style play offs, people really got into lawn bowls!
This was mainly down to the way, founder Will Goy, adapted the game to make it shorter and more accessible for all.
By simplifying and speeding up the game, he aimed to do for bowls what 20:20 has done for cricket and was inspired by his time in Australia.
Down under he saw how bowls had become a new millennial sport as it gave people the perfect excuse to be outside playing sport as well as drinking beer!
This is where the summertime revelling elements of Festibowl start to play their part! Bowls is, of course, the reason people pitch up; it’s a novel, easy to play game where everyone can have a go, that sometimes gets competitive, but only ever in a sociable and fun way. The reason people stay, come back for more and have such a great all round experience is down to the fully loaded bars, delicious street foods and open air music.
The bars this year had sponsorship from Bombay Sapphire, Moet & Chandon, Jagermeister and Red Bull, which naturally led to some delightfully refreshing and energising cocktails. We especially liked the Bombay Bias – Bombay Sapphire, Elderflower, Lemon, Soda, Cucumber; The Spicy Back Bowl – Jagermeister, Ginger, Fresh Lime and the Festibowl Fizz – Moet Brut, Bombay Sapphire, Chambord. Moet & Chandon actually had a standalone bar from which people could order bottles of Moet Ice Brut, Moet Ice Rose, Moet Brut and Moet Rose to be delivered to their tables in crisp white buckets overflowing with ice accompanied by branded glassware.
The former is a regular at Finsbury Square, satisfying the local community and the Festibowl crowd with fresh, fast and filling wraps filled with everything from halloumi to pulled pork to chicken and guacamole. The latter is relatively new on the London food scene and so attracted a lot of attention from foodies and influencers.
Rightly so, as there Truffle Burger was the epitome of food porn and it didn’t taste too bad either. How could it not when it comprised of a beef and bacon mixed patty, raclette cheese, truffle mayo, fig jam and crispy shallots? Yes please and thank you!
But it wasn’t only Truffle London who had the carnivores salivating because there was an even newer street food shack in town – Carcass London. Appropriately named, these boys serve up “British Rare Breed Meats, Cooked over Smoke and Fire” and boy does their barbecue deliver.
We would recommend the Bone Marrow Brulees and their Dry Aged Onglet, Mopped in Beef Fat with herbs. There was a creamy and oozing Mushroom risotto provided by Truffle London for vegetarians in the mix, but not much for vegans we’re sorry to say. We are sure the Festibowl team will step it up for next year though.
Location Location Location
Last but not least, in the reasons why Festibowl was such a blast, is down to where it takes place. Not only does Finsbury Square boast one of the oldest bowling green’s in the country, but it is surrounded by beautiful buildings that give the setting a sense of grandeur.
So your bowling arena feels at once like an oasis of green, but also like a gladiator’s stadium. You’re in London or maybe even Rome, but you also feel like you could be having a long, lazy summer evening in the country.
Added to the feel and atmosphere of Finsbury Square is its prime central location. It’s close to lots of worker bees, looking for some refreshing post-work vibes and near enough to Shoreditch for further drinking and dancing when the venue shuts. All in all this made it perfect for office parties, date nights or just hanging out with friends.
With so much demand, we are sure Festibowl will be back next year even bigger and bowlder than before. There was certainly a lot of interest expressed for more weeknight and weekend sessions, so here’s hoping that lawn bowls really does becomes de rigueur in a Londoner’s lifestyle next year.
We certainly enjoyed running their PR and social media and wish the team the best of luck!
Check out our short review of Truffle London here.
© Photography by Jake Davis (fb.com/hungryvisuals) and William Goy
As with most large events in the UK and across the world there is always opportunity for brands and specifically restaurants and bars to capitalise on them from a PR point of view – the Royal Wedding this weekend is a perfect example of this. Executing a simple and well thought out PR campaign can not only lead to press coverage but an increase in sales.
The Royal Wedding this weekend is one opportunity where restaurants and bars can do this. From a kooky cocktail to a royal afternoon tea – customers, especially tourists travelling for the occasion will be ready to lap up this opportunity.
Examples of PR Campaigns for the Royal Wedding
Take the Royal Wedding Champagne afternoon tea at Dukes Hotel who have partnered with The East India Company to create an afternoon tea to celebrate the occasion. Both brands have historic Royal connections and have utilised this to create an afternoon tea that shows off both brands to excellent effect.
Afternoon teas are always a popular hit with consumers – The Sanderson Hotel’s Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea is the highest grossing f&b activation they have done. When executed well it is the perfect opportunity for venues to earn during the lull time between lunch and dinner service.
The timings of the Royal Wedding lend itself perfect to venues screening the event and having brunch specials – Dead Dolls House in Islington are screening the event as well as offering £10 jugs of Pimm’s. There will also be a free shot for anyone named Meghan or Harry – a simple yet fun PR idea to engage consumers and the press.
Screenings will be popular across London and the UK – To top off the wine-filled celebrations, the London Wine Week Hub at Flat Iron Square will play host to a Royal Wedding garden party on Saturday 19th May, complete with bunting, confetti and of course, plenty of fizz. With a live screening of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day and dedicated menu of Champagne and cake, guests will enjoy a good old-fashioned knees-up throughout the day.
The Royal Wedding will be screened throughout the afternoon; starting with the ceremony at Windsor Castle at noon, followed by the carriage procession around Windsor Town. Free to attend, it’s the ultimate fizz-lovers’ celebration of the royal nuptials.
Above are a few examples of campaigns that restaurants, bars and brands are doing to create PR opportunities for themselves from the Royal Wedding.
Key Points for activating a PR campaign
1. Keep it simple – don’t go over the top sometimes the simple ideas are the most effective
2. Think outside the box – journalists like things that are different and unusual
3. Decide if you want to do an idea that just gets press – sometimes the wacky ideas will get you lots of press but no necessarily resonate with consumers – decide what you want most out of the campaign.