Small Business, Big Difference

Na-Ha Thai's Kitchen

3. Good Health and Well-Being 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 13. Climate Action

Overview

Na-Ha-Thai's Kitchen focuses on imbedding more sustainable, greener solutions that benefit their community. Through reducing their plastic waste, and promoting healthy living through organic cooked meals, Na-Ha-Thai is dedicated to being a positive change in their community.

Authors

Maiesha Grant

Maiesha Grant

Irene Chan

Irene Chan

Jacob Clarke

Jacob Clarke

katie Joy

katie Joy

School

Beyond Borders

Beyond Borders

Professors

Matthew Mulhern

Matthew Mulhern

Mike Parsons

Mike Parsons

Innovation

In today’s world, climate change is prevalent and we as humans are causing a negative impact on the planet. There is clear concrete evidence of climate change occurring, most recently, Australia is in the midst of the worst fire that has ever happened and this is all exacerbated by climate change. Everything we do can either cause good or harm for the environment and we choose which we want to do. The owner of Na Ha Thai, Narumon Verspheen wants to make a difference and help fight against climate change by cutting out the use of plastic use for customers. She had switched bags to paper bags and reusable bags which has greater benefits for the environment. Not only does she have reusable bags but she also provides companies with an opportunity to gain recognition through her restaurant by donating their own company bag with their logo printed on it. In addition, they push customers to bring in reusable containers for takeout to help reduce the number of styrofoam boxes used. Currently, with the take out boxes that they carry harms the environment as styrofoam is made out of a type of plastic called polystyrene. As a result, they will try to cut down the use of styrofoam in hopes to replace all the styrofoam containers with paper takeout containers in 2020. With all the changes, the prices will be raised by 5% to help support the cost of becoming more sustainable. Therefore, it is evident that Narumon wants to stand up for the planet and help fight climate change.

Narumon comes from Thailand where home-cooked meals are always available. After coming to Canada, it was difficult to find a place where they served authentic thai home-cooked meals. With the interest in cooking and love for food, Naarumon decided to start a business with her husband. It all began with selling baked goods at Guelphs Farmer’s market where she attracted many customers and brought them over to her restaurant. There was a high demand for her baked goods but unfortunately, Narumon got too busy with it and decided to focus mainly on authentic thai dishes. Narumon is someone who cares a lot for the environment and the concept of climate change has been emerging, especially in recent years. It is important to Narumon to create a positive impact on the environment and become more environmentally friendly for future generations.

Na Ha Thai’s mission is to raise more awareness on climate change and the negative impacts that humans have on the planet. The purpose is to reduce waste in landfills and get people to be more environmentally conscious. With the 5% price increase, it is clear that Narumon is socially responsible and is willing to spend more money to help the environment. Overall, with the changes that Na Ha Thai is incorporating, it is making a long term difference on the environment.

Small Business, Big Difference

Inspiration


Narumon Verspheen noticed that within the Guelph community, especially in her restaurant, there is room for positive changes to be made. With the widespread climate crisis hanging over our heads, it’s been made clear that if businesses don’t be the change we wish to see in the world, progress won’t be made. No matter how small, Narumon recognized that her local businesses can run in an innovative, greener model. Inspiration sparked when Narumon began to look at the impact her store alone had on the environment and the community, saying that “Every day at least 200-300 people take out and every day that is 50 bags, 250 bags a week for takeout and it all adds up at the end of the month and goes into landfills”. This is where her idea sparked to cut out plastic entirely from her store. Firstly, plastic utensils were switched to compostable, then, takeout containers made from reusable plastic that can be washed and brought back, finally, she introduced reusable and paper bags in place of plastic. However, these changes couldn’t be made without a hike in prices. Narumon announced on her social media that her business would be increasing prices by 5% + HST to support the transition to being a greener, sustainable business. The more supportive comments and positive feedback she got from her idea, the easier it was for the community to get on board and actually solidify her ideas. “They will be happy to pay a little bit extra, it’s not just for us, but for the community and the environment,” said Narumon when speaking about her customers.

A large motivator for her wasn’t just for her family and the clean future she wants her daughter to have, but it’s for the future generations to come. With authenticity being important, Narumon (from a very young age) has always been inspired to cook healthy, organic-based thai meals. Although organic ingredients are more expensive to buy, she purchases locally from farmers markets further supporting her community. Understanding that living sustainably means taking enough without harming those in the future, Narumon found inspiration within her community and from what she saw going on in the world around us. She discussed the current wildfires in Australia and how upsetting it is to see the increase in these disasters due to the acceleration of climate change. “We are slowly changing because when I did market research for compostable utensils the price is three or four times more expensive,” said Narumon. “If we do everything all at once, people will be shocked. We have to raise the price slowly first.”. This is how she found inspiration to change her business model to promote good health, a sustainable city, and climate action.

Overall impact

Na Ha Thai is on the rise to become an environmentally stable local business in Guelph that gives back to the community. This impact gives the small business a good reputation for customers which is a method of attraction to new customers. As well, with this innovation, it makes Na Ha Thai different and stands out compared to other small businesses within the Guelph area. Narumon Has chosen to steer her business towards climate action and supporting other local businesses. Narumon has made some big changes in January by taking a different path then most businesses do by creating their own route and purchasing eco-friendly, sustainable items. She switched to recyclable paper bags from one-use plastic bags that don't decompose for decades. As well, making a change to her utensils by using wooden and compostable tools instead of plastic or metal. Narumon made the amazing promotion to let people know to bring in their reusable bags and to-go containers so she is limiting the waste of styrofoam containers that would be thrown out after a meal. Narumon plans to completely take out all styrofoam containers by mid-2020 so that she becomes closer to zero waste for any customers looking to buy food. Making all of these changes are not cheap. Sadly being sustainable is hard because prices are higher for sustainable items because they are less accessible, especially for small businesses that do not have a lot of recognition. The demand for eco-friendly products is not as high as plastic one-use items for example, so they are not made as often because not enough businesses are looking for cheap and easy products that can get the job done. Narumon decided to raise her prices by 5% + HST. Most businesses would face a lot of backlash but Na Ha Thai’s only got support. One person on Facebook commented “So happy to pay this extra money to support your amazing business,”. Seeing these comments makes Narumon know that she is making an impact on the local society of Guelph and that she has many supporters. Making all these changes has helped Narumon reduce her businesses ecological footprint. She wanted to make a change for the future generations that would have to deal with all of the climate change problems kids will face. She is a very family-oriented person who cares very much for her kids and she wants them to have a bright future living in Guelph so she has taken the first steps to environmental change. Her long-term goals that she has embedded in her business is to fight against climate change, this leads into Narumon’s short-term goals because she is bringing awareness to the impact people and businesses make in Guelph. Promoting a stop to climate change will influence the civilians in Guelph to make a local movement to prevent any more environmentally damaging decisions businesses can make. Even though Na Ha Thai is a small supporter to an even bigger cause her change will make a difference later in the future.

Business benefit

Na-ha Thai's Kitchen is a business that is always open to new ideas to incorporate into their company to make it better for not only themselves but for the community. They already do quite a bit of amazing things that benefit both themselves and others such as provides many options for food such as vegan, gluten-free, and have many different ingredients that are organic. Na- Ha Thai’s Kitchen is in the process of helping their business and others such as incorporating a keto diet base into their menu for people who are keto. This will not only help themselves branch out into different diets for their menu, but it also helps them become more aware of people's diets and helping the environment. Na-Ha Thai's Kitchen's long term goal is to also get creative with her business and try something new that she has never done before. This year they have chosen to do gift bags as well as grow their own food. Being innovative like this will really help their company grow and become more connected to the community as people are attracted to a business that continues to grow and reach new limits.


Social and environmental benefit

Na-Ha Thai’s Kitchen has a strong passion towards the society and environment and has and continues to help the community. She has been in the process of eliminating all single-use plastics such as bags and utensils which lets customers know that not only do they care about the environment, but they also care about their customers as a lot of people are looking to go to these places and at some points won't buy food from a restaurant that simply does not care. This restaurant cares a lot about healthy food and healthy people, climate change, sustainable cities, and supporting local businesses. Na-Ha Thai has incorporated many healthy options and diets into their menu to help their business grow but most importantly help the environment in as many ways as possible. Na-Ha Thai's Kitchen has been focusing a lot on natural and organic foods which is why they want to start growing their own foods to help even more and have that 100% natural good source food. To also help the environment, they encourage their customers as of right now to bring their own containers to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.

Interview

Narumon Verspheen, Owner

Photo of interviewee

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Na-Ha Thai's Kitchen

Na-Ha Thai's Kitchen

Guelph, Ontario, CA

Business Website: https://nahathaikitchen.weebly.com/

Year Founded: 2014

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Na Ha Thai’s Kitchen is a small family-run restaurant in Guelph, Ontario that is dedicated to creating a greener, more sustainable future for their community. Through reducing plastic waste, providing healthy organic meals, and supporting local farmers, Na-Ha Thai is a small business making a BIG difference.