Published on July 26th, 2016 | by Brittain Thompson0
SPORK Brings Sustainability to Oxford
Sustainable Practices in Our Restaurant Kitchens, or SPORK, is a project started by Leadership Lafayette that is now being handed over to Sustainable Oxford. The project was inspired by Project Green Fork in Memphis.
“Each year a new group of about 25 people come through Leadership Lafayette,” said Caitlin Hopper, operations coordinator for the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. “After they have learned about the community, we split them into groups. This year one of the people in our group was from Memphis. They suggested we move forward with a project similar to Project Green Fork.”
SPORK focuses on assisting Oxford restaurants in becoming green through sustainable practices.
“What SPORK and Project Green Fork want to do is offer restaurants the ability to hold themselves accountable for their carbon footprint,” said Shannon Curtis, Program Coordinator for Sustainable Oxford. “We don’t want to guilt the restaurants into anything…we just want to help facilitate these practices.”
The restaurant pays a membership fee of $150 the first year and agrees to the requirements set by SPORK. The requirements include using Sustainable Products and Non-Toxic Cleaning Products, Recycling, Reduced Energy and Water Consumption, Pollution Prevention, and purchasing goods from at least one local vendor. Composting kitchen waste is also listed, but optional.
“The whole idea is that we have this awesome, booming industry that also has a massive carbon footprint in waste, in energy, in all this stuff,” said Curtis. “So, how can we lessen that?”
After signing up for SPORK the restaurants will then be audited by either Oxford Energy or Irby Co., a company out of Tupelo.
“What we’re trying to do is provide fairly easy things that will make you a greener restaurant,” said Hopper. “In exchange we’re another means of promotion for the restaurant.”
Each restaurant partnering with SPORK will be given a sticker to display in their window, similar to how Project Green Fork promotes their partnerships.
“When I was in Memphis I saw a green fork sticker at a restaurant and looked up what it was,” said Curtis. “Now every time I’m up there I go to Project Green Fork partnered restaurants.”
Currently, SPORK has partnered with three restaurants and one catering company: Oxford Canteen, The Ravine, Snackbar, and My Michelle’s Catering.
“We’ve already had other people reach out to us,” said Curtis. “We wanted to launch three, we have four now, and that’s great.”
On August 2, Sustainable Oxford will be throwing a kickoff party for SPORK, featuring kid’s activities, live music, and food from participating restaurants.
There will also be several tables set up for regional sustainability projects that will be passing out information and other educational materials on how to reduce your carbon footprint.
Sustainable Oxford plans for the SPORK kickoff to mark what will become their annual fundraiser, possibly increasing its frequency to every six months. Purchasing more than one ticket in advance through their fundraising page on generosity.com will earn you rewards that increase with the amount of tickets ordered.