The “zero-waste” bar is the one that never existed

Talking sustainability with the Tin Roof Drink Community

Claire Sprouse and Chad Arnholt, based in Brooklyn, are the duo behind the Tin Roof Drink Community, set out to inspired and to share information within the cocktail industry on how to reduce waste in all steps using an holistic way of thinking. With a mission of trying to prove that you can have a good time and be mindful about waste at the same time. 

What is the biggest challenge when working sustainable within the bar industry right now?

“Information! When we first started, there was no great resource for how to be more sustainable, and what was out there was not completely accurate or confusing. That’s why we drive hard at the research and education, so we can make being more sustainable accessible, accurate, and realistic.”

Why is this so important to you? 

“Waste in bars is often considered business as usual, but we know it doesn’t have to be. At the same time, we know that the “zero-waste” bar is the one that never existed, but then life would be a whole lot less fun. We are trying to prove that you can have a good time AND be mindful about waste. We get to meet so many new faces while we are out educating or consulting. Their enthusiasm and drive to gobble up all the knowledge, both technical and hospitality-focused, keeps us motivated.”

In their own bar they take a holistic perspective, not just focusing on one aspect but trying to chip away at every part. They examine water waste, energy waste, carbon footprint, food waste and all the trash their bar throw away. 

 We are trying to prove that you can have a good time AND be mindful about waste

“You can’t treat the problem without knowing how the cogs all fit together, so we do a lot of digging into how our bars fit into the greater processes of agriculture and industrial production of goods.”

Could you share some smart hacks that other bartenders and bar owners could easily copy?

“Know your equipment so you can learn and teach your staff how to use it most efficiently. It’s not super sexy, but changing things like the aerators on your sink faucets or keeping your gaskets on the fridges maintained save tons of water and electricity waste. Collaboration with other areas of the business – the kitchen, barista, servers, managers – to work together to cross-utilize ingredients or systems. Tightening up on waste streams is much easier when the entire team is working towards that goal.

Buy a dehydrator! They use minimal amounts of electricity and they are great for saving food that might otherwise get tossed in the trash. You can create new garnishes, turn fruits into aromatic powders, or even save herbs for later use.”

Our these efforts in bars just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? Meaning, is this a lost cause? 

“We believe that every action is a step in the right direction, so starting small can add up to really big change. Our planet’s well-being needs EVERYONE to start changing their ways – including bartenders!”


Want to know more? Watch this video about The Green Hustle.