at The Colatina Exit – Bradford, Vermont
By Alyvia Covert
“Mangia Bene, viva bene!” Translated, “Live Well, Eat Well” is not just a motto to refer to the menu at The Colatina Exit — it also applies to the environmentally friendly practices this restaurant carries out to ensure that living well and eating well includes the welfare of the earth as well.
Recognized as a “Green Restaurant in the Green Mountain State”, The Colatina Exit, owned by Vincent and Angela Wendell, has achieved this sustainable title through an organization called the Vermont Business Environmental Partnership.
The motivation to become certified as a green restaurant began as a suggestion from Peter Crawford, one of the VBEP organizers. Vincent Wendell said Crawford, a customer of The Colatina, recognized the potential for the restaurant to become certified as a green organization.
“Becoming certified didn’t require a whole lot more effort than what we were already doing,” Wendell said. “The purpose of getting certified is to let the community, other organizations and even other restaurants see the effort we’re making, and it feels like that helps to drive the whole initiative.”
VBEP is a voluntary program, which recognizes sustainable efforts made by businesses throughout Vermont, and is divided into four different sectors, including the Green Restaurant sector.
The organization encourages environmental awareness within businesses by setting a list of eight sustainable standards and practices. The incentive for businesses is to become an environmental partner or leader associated with VBEP after meeting or exceeding these eight guidelines. The guidelines can be found online at this website: http://www.vbep.org/vbep/standards.html
Seen in the restaurant’s mission statement about sustainability, The Colatina Exit is dedicated to “protecting the environment, the health and safety of our employees, and the community in which we conduct our business. We [The Colatina] are committed to pollution prevention, continual improvement, and meeting or exceeding all environmental regulatory requirements.”
As a green partner of VBEP, The Colatina has made efforts such as energy efficient lighting and insulation to more extensive endeavors like composting and local food sourcing to meet the green designation and follow their own mission statement.
Wendell said he noticed the amount of waste produced from the restaurant in a week resulted in an overflowing dumpster within seven days, which led to an effort to cut back the amount of waste in the dumpster by recycling.
In addition to recycling, composting is one more way The Colatina works to reduce waste in the dumpster. Biodegradable wastes are saved and delivered to Sandberg Farm in East Corinth, VT, where it is then turned into topsoil.
“[In many restaurants] so many things come in containers that just get thrown away,” Wendell said. “It makes sense that we just can’t keep living that way, just consuming.” The effort to buy local and fresh foods also lends itself to a reduction in packaging wastes.
Supporting the local food scene is one of the most important details of sustainable dining, and The Colatina works to support many area farms, breweries, musicians and other businesses within the area. Some of these include Robie Farm, Slack Maple Farm, Four Corners Farm, Rock Art Brewery, Switchback Brewery, and many more.
“We try to do our part by just having our own localized economy, Wendell said. “I feel like it’s important to sustain the communities that sustain us.”
Wendell said off that renewable energy may be a part of future plans for the sustainability of the restaurant. Hydro or solar power are both potential energy options.
“it seems like we used to be focused on things in the business that keep you chasing, and it’s not very fulfilling,” Wendell said. “Looking at what we have now, we want to do things in a way that is meaningful to us.”
Alyvia Covert is a student at Ithaca College majoring in journalism. She lives in Piermont, New Hampshire.