A Buzzworthy Cause

Buzz Café

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

Overview

Buzz Café seeks to solve Earth's current environmental crisis through their effective composting methods, elimination of single-use plastic, cutting down on the use of energy, and by offering members of the community with decent work opportunities. Combining all of these elements reveals that Buzz Café fulfills SDGs 8, 12, and 13.

Authors

Hailey Limbrick

Hailey Limbrick

Taylor Himanek

Taylor Himanek

School

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

Professor

Nancy Landrum

Nancy Landrum

Innovation

Founded in 1998 by Laura and Andrew Maychruk, Buzz Café has played a vital role as a social enterprise in the community of Oak Park. Buzz Café thrives on the concept of using less while consuming in a smarter fashion. The enterprise offers meal options that customers can feel good about. The natural, organic, ethically and locally sourced ingredients that make up every dish at the café are a driving force behind the success of the company. Buzz Café offers a variety of vegan and vegetarian options which ensures that there is something for everyone. Their certified fair trade coffee is delivered weekly by local roasters from within the area. The use of local distributors contributes positively to the community because it keeps other small businesses nearby alive rather than sourcing materials from large companies who undercut mom-and-pop businesses. Additionally, it cuts down on unnecessary emissions that are typically created from transporting goods across the country. Customers are able to dine at Buzz Café at ease knowing that the food that they put in their bodies are socially and environmentally conscious.

Buzz Café is able to diminish its carbon footprint in more ways than one through the use of sustainable ingredients and eco-friendly energy sources. The café is powered by LED lighting which significantly cuts down on energy consumption. Employees are encouraged to refrain from driving to work in order to reduce carbon emissions. Rather, employees are urged to utilize public transportation given Buzz Café’s close proximity to the train station or ride their bikes to work where they are guaranteed a location to store their bike. Another way in which Buzz Café consumes less energy is by keeping the establishment free of televisions. Given the café’s community-centered atmosphere, communication and socialization are encouraged. By keeping a screen-free environment, Buzz Café can focus on what makes the entity a success—people.

Perhaps one of the biggest ways that Buzz Café positively contributes to the environment is through composting. Over the last eight to ten years, Buzz Café has been composting all its own waste. On a weekly basis, Buzz Café fills a two-yard dumpster with compost. This composting practice dramatically decreases the amount of waste deposited into a landfill. Buzz Café is able to use less by serving orders (to-go orders included) in biodegradable packaging; whether it be cups, plates, straws, forks, knives, or containers. The café incentivizes its customers with a small discount on beverages if they bring in their own reusable coffee mugs. This is yet another way in which Buzz Café is raising awareness in regard to the environment.

Buzz Café behaves responsibly as a company not only through environmental issues, but social ones as well. Buzz Café employs thirty individuals with about twenty-two being part-time and the rest full-time. What makes Buzz Café unique in its business practice is that they willingly employ ex-offenders. Given Buzz Café’s reputation of providing immaculate customer service, the employees certainly contribute positively to the success of the company. By employing ex-felons, Buzz Café is actively giving back to the community by offering decent work opportunities to all regardless of their past.

A Buzzworthy Cause

Inspiration

Recognizing the alarming amount of potential waste that an individual can create in their lifetime, co-founder Laura Maychruk was inspired to change the way in which she lived by aiming to decrease her personal contribution to landfills. For nearly fifteen years, Maychruk has been composting her own waste and has implemented this practice into her business. The inspiration for such a custom came from within. Maychruk described the motivation for her sustainable actions as a way to help her to sleep at night by knowing that she is doing the right thing for the planet. Since opening Buzz Café, she has made it a priority to educate others in her community on how they can become more sustainable, including other local business owners as well. Given that the clientele in Oak Park appreciates sustainable practices, Maychruk saw this as a wonderful way to aid the planet while growing her customer base as well.

Overall impact

Buzz Café has a strong social, economic, and environmental impact on the community. It is their goal to create an overall impact that binds good food, community, and family all together. It is hoped that for every one individual that walks into the café, another walks out with a positive experience. To ensure this, Buzz Café offers delicious food, a welcoming atmosphere and a positive imprint on the earth. Buzz Café hangs all of their accomplishments on the walls of their building for visual representation. Having a sign with all this information educates people while instilling what sustainability can do for the community. Customers, people and businesses can learn that composting is not as hard as it may seem. This ultimately encourages them to join the eco-friendly lifestyle themselves.

Business benefit

Buzz Café’s eco-friendly establishment allows the employees and owner to focus on the true success of the restaurant—good food and customer service. The importance of serving delicious food with outstanding customer service is evident through the words of Buzz Café’s owner. Maychruk voiced that, “If the food sucked, people wouldn’t come!” With this being the case, although sustainability is important to Buzz Café’s customers, the high-quality product that is served is undoubtedly a driving force behind the café’s financial prosperity. The ability to focus on creating good quality food has benefited the business in the highest way possible. Specializing in locally sourced, organic, vegan and vegetarian foods as well as fair trade coffees from around the world allowed for Buzz Café to become an Oak Park tradition. Moreover, Buzz Café’s sustainable practices cuts down significantly on costs by consuming less energy, which ultimately serves as a huge benefit for the company from a business perspective. By not being forced to choose between quality and price, Buzz Café is able to focus on delivering an unparalleled product that is both delicious and environmentally mindful.

Social and environmental benefit

All the decisions made at Buzz Café have led to benefit the community and company both socially and environmentally. Buzz Café zealously works toward practicing several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Evidently, through their scrupulous use of energy and eco-friendly business practices, Buzz Café actively works toward Sustainable Goal 13 (Climate Change) whether they are aware of it or not! Buzz Café positively contributes to Sustainable Goal 8 (Economic Growth and Decent Work) by providing work for ex-felons and sourcing ingredients from local distributors. Lastly, Buzz Café is a wonderful example of a business who commits itself to consuming and producing responsibly. Through composting, using energy efficient sources, and eliminating single-use plastic, Buzz Café fulfills Sustainable Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). Like many other social enterprises in the world, Buzz Café is eagerly searching for ways in which to transform our world. For the past twenty years, Buzz Café has supported local artists, musicians, farmers and producers all while keeping dumpster sizes of waste out of landfills. Buzz Café has had the benefit of educating their employees, customers and partners on what composting is and how they can take ideas into their own lives and businesses. Through this, Buzz Café is able to present itself as not only a café that offers delicious food, but also as one that actively makes a difference both locally and globally.

Interview

Laura Maychruk, Co-founder and Owner

Photo of interviewee

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Buzz Café

Buzz Café

Oak Park, Illinois, US

Business Website: https://thebuzzcafe.com/

Year Founded: 1998

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Situated in the heart of Oak Park, Illinois, Buzz Café is an upbeat hearty joint which prospers off of sustainable business practices. Along with providing the community with a low-key space to dine and socialize Buzz Café has discovered ways to lessen their overall impact on the environment. Through the use of efficient energy sources, biodegradable packaging, composting, locally sourced organic vegan and vegetarian food options, as well as fair trade coffees, Buzz Café has identified a way in which to virtually eliminate waste from their establishment. The community-focused attitude that Buzz Café embodies creates an inviting environment for customers, employees and even for local artists who are encouraged to display or perform their artwork. By consuming energy responsibly, offering decent work, sourcing materials ethically and forging a neighborly demeanor for all, Buzz Café is actively reshaping the old business model.