At a time when sustainability is key to preserving our planet, green-washing has become something of a marketing tool.
Even with the best of intentions, companies that purport to be environmentally conscious may not be making any notable sustainability efforts apart, perhaps, from buying local or recycling.
So it is heartening to see a company walk its talk, especially when it announces that it has launched Southeast Asia's first Net Zero-certified F&B store.
Located at the newly minted CapitaSpring, SaladStop!'s net zero store has been two years in the making.
It comes replete with furnishings made from upcycled logs and tiles fashioned from recycled plastic… but what does being net zero really mean?
What and why?
According to the United Nations, net zero means "cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans or forests for instance".
Why is net zero important? This one's easy: To reduce the effects of climate change and maintain a planet that's liveable for future generations.
Something that, by all accounts and evidence, we're not doing so well with. Need proof? Just step out of your air-conditioned office and feel the burn of our ever-increasingly warm weather.
Back to the new net zero store.
To achieve certification, SaladStop! underwent a full carbon assessment, which was done in partnership with Unravel Carbon, a Singapore-based company that helps organisations track and reduce their carbon emissions and decarbonise their operations.
They compared the estimated operational emissions of the new store (117 tonnes per year) to other SaladStop! stores (126 tonnes) and found that it will emit nine tonnes less of CO2-e per year.
Compared to similar-sized quick service restaurants across the F&B industry, which emits 558 tonnes of CO2-e annually, this is a 441-tonne decrease from just one store alone.
The reduced emissions are achieved through various ways including sticking to the principles of sustainability in the store's design, offering zero-waste options for customers who want to use eco-friendly reusables for takeaway, and an exclusive partnership with Deliveroo that ensures only cyclists and walkers are allocated deliveries.
SaladStop! has also partnered with Westcom Bio-Tech to turn leftover food safely into fertiliser on-site, decreasing food sent to landfills.
What price sustainability?
Whether in a restaurant, at home, or at work, it is impossible not to emit CO2-e in the course of our daily grind. Electricity alone counts for much of our day-to-day emissions.
Getting to net zero for SaladStop! thus includes buying high-quality offsets when it has exhausted all reduction efforts at the store.
For this, it works through Gold Standard projects to support the Myanmar Stoves Campaign and contributes to a community forest project in Timor Leste by WithOneSeed.
Do all these extra steps mean your meal at SaladStop! comes at a premium? Apparently not.
With businesses increasingly embracing sustainability, the company found that the cost increase in materials is not significant.
And besides, if taking small albeit slightly costlier steps when it comes to choosing what and where we eat can contribute towards a better future for generations to come, then we are all for giving it a try.