Sustainability

We're serious about our role as conscientious business owners, constantly looking for ways we can be better stewards of our environment. We recycle or compost most of our waste. We also strive to source food and products from companies with similar commitments.

Doing this isn't always easy. We train every employee at HopCat and the other restaurants in our family to sort waste, including the packaging that food and other materials arrives in and the leftovers on your plate when you finish dining with us.

Instead of just dumping everything in one place, food waste is placed into our compost bin, along with our compostable paper products, used straws and other compostable items. We recycle almost everything we can't compost - cardboard boxes, cans, glass, plastic containers -- you name it. 

Why do we do this? Well, take a look behind your average restaurant. There's often a big, overflowing garbage bin - almost everything bound for a landfill or an incinerator. We decided that had to stop. So we talked to our employees, did some research and developed our waste-reduction program. A lot of people said we were crazy, that it would cost too much. Once we understood how much waste we could divert or eliminate, we knew it would cost us too much not to do this.

HopCat's parent company, BarFly Ventures, has a Sustainability Team working diligently to minimize our footprint on the planet. Here's a look at what we've been able to do...

MAKING SOIL, NOT TRASH

  • All of our straws, napkins and to-go products are made from compostable and renewable materials.

  • In 2016, we composted an estimated 3,870 cubic yards. Composting diverts food and organic waste from landfills and creates healthy soil that returns nutrients back into our food system.

  • We donated more than $13,000 last year to local famers, tree planters and soil rehabilitation specialists to support the creation of productive green spaces.

 

RESOURCE RECYCLING

  • Between our compost and recycling programs, we diverted an estimated 17,670 cubic yards of waste from landfills or incinerators in 2016. That's about 90 percent of our waste!

  • We recycled an estimated 13,800 cubic yards of materials such as paper, plastic and metal. By turning this waste into new, reusable material, we kept trash from festering in wasteful, environmentally dangerous landfills.

WATER

  • Since our company is based in the Great Lakes State, we're acutely aware of the importance of fresh water, so we are always looking for ways to support clean water initiatives.

  • In 2016, we donated almost $8,000 to regional clean water efforts, including For Love of Water (an organization dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes) and the Flint Water Fund (an effort through the Genessee County United Way to provide the citizens of Flint with clean water and support services).

  • We are active supporters of efforts to shut down Line 5, a pair of oil pipelines through the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, the fragile waterways separating Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. We have held events at several of our Michigan locations to increase awareness of the issue.

  • Our company is a founding member of the Great Lakes Business Network. The group - which also includes several Michigan breweries - is devoted to protecting our Great Lakes from environmental threats such as Line 5.

  • Our employees regularly participate in volunteer water cleanup efforts, such as the Annual Mayors' Grand River Cleanup in our hometown of Grand Rapids. 

 ENERGY

  • Conservation of energy is a major priority for our company, so we are in the process of transitioning HopCat kitchens to LED lighting.

  • We have partnered with the Midwest Energy Group to track our energy use and improve our efficiency.

  • Our company is a founding member of the Grand Rapids 2030 District, a public-private partnership devoted to making downtown Grand Rapids as efficient and sustainable as possible.

  • We are regular participants in the Michigan Battle of the Buildings, a statewide energy-reduction competition. One of our restaurants, the Grand Rapids Brewing Company, took home the Biggest Losers award (that's a good thing!) in the entertainment category of the 2016 competition.

COMMUNITY

  • Last year we donated more than $60,000 to more than 170 nonprofit organizations that are working to make our communities better and stronger.

  • By the end of 2017, we hope to have a Green Team at each HopCat location to coordinate waste diversion, volunteer work, food growth and education about sustainability.

  • Through our participation in the FeelGood Tap program, we donate $1 per pint sold to a monthly rotating michigan nonprofit. In 2016, we were able to raise $26,4457 for worthwhile causes across the state.

For more information on our company's environmental efforts, and to read full reports from 2015 and 2016, visit the sustainability page at BarFly Ventures' website.