It’s bin a wild coffee ride! I’m writing this article from a cafe in Joondalup awaiting to have my right breast probed by a needle. Somehow in the midst of the latest madness and Donut busyness, it feels surreal and casual at the same time. (Update: all good, just a naughty harmless cyst.)
How it all started…
Christmas break of 2020 I spent building the Donut Waste website and dreaming of collecting coffee grounds from cafes around Perth.
Then in February our friend car mechanic mentioned he’d been hiding a giant van in his pocket for a while and a week later I found myself sheepishly driving it. Still hitting all kerbs in Perth btw. so when you see it, I recommend you run!
There was no going back so I decided to go big and brand it with a bright and large DONUT WASTE sign which makes kids on the streets gape in awe while tagging their mum to get them a donut. Sorry kids, no donuts here!
KOFI van Damme was born. Now we needed some bins. We decided to purchase a few 120l bins and turned our front yard into crowded bin storage. Being a marketing enthusiast, I went on designing stickers for bins and venues and started regularly posting on social media – Facebook, Insta and LinkedIn.
Meanwhile, Adrian, my personal McGyver was tasked to figure out how a 54kg Shark me will drag an 84kg coffee bin into a van. After a few dangerous attempts, KOFI van Damme has been equipped with a manual ramp and an electrical vinche.
The hardest part turned out to be drafting contracts and figuring out how to best charge clients. Square is a tool we settled on but the more I use it, the more I bang my head against hard objects. If you know of better tools that won’t charge me my fins, please let me know.
And then, drumrolls, please! In March we have signed up our first cafe. Tadaaa! And then another one and another one. Soon I realised I won’t be able to do anything else if I keep driving around all day dragging coffee grounds from one place to another. Speaking of which, here are some numbers.
Our impact so far
This year Shark has managed to pick up 78.5 bins (120l) of coffee grounds. That’s 6,594 kilograms of coffee grounds diverted from landfill. That’s 366,333 coffees that went on to become a beautiful rich compost in your local community garden.
On a bigger scheme of things, it doesn’t look like much but it’s important to know that a single individual can make a difference. 6.5 tonnes of difference.
Other things we do
In September I got a scholarship into a Curtin Ignition program and met a cohort of amazing entrepreneurs. Start-up scene in Perth, here I come! I’ve learnt how to pitch and was told to put myself in a supply chain. Trust me, I’ve been trying!
After meeting with yet another council that did nothing to help, I decided to launch my workshop offering. I’m delighted to say, I’m about to run my first coffee body scrub workshop in February.
Throughout this year I’ve also joined Go2Cup at a few events to help educate the public about reusables and how to correctly sort their waste. I hope to continue this amazing partnership and keep on reducing Perth’s waste at events together.
In October I joined the team of Responsible Cafes. We zoom together once a week and from different states in Australia run a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on helping cafes to act sustainably.
Our newly formed dream team has big plans for making sustainable change happen and will soon offer face2face engagement to councils and their hospo venues to help them not only with the upcoming single-use plastic ban.
Where to next…
In November I saw this media release and thought – hell yeah, I’d love to do that here! I’m pleased to announce we have teamed up with Endeavour to collect beer can clips from the new year and will be sorting them out and taking them back to breweries for reuse. We even have our own media release coming out early 2022.
We’re planning to keep finding products and materials that could be diverted from landfill and either reused, upcycled or recycled. Since KOFI is already driving around, it makes sense to pick up so more. Corks anyone?! If you have any suggestions, please let us know.
This year I have met many amazing and inspiring humans and formed friendships with some. I’m very grateful to be able to collaborate and draw wisdom and support from them.
Being a wastepreneur is tough. It means being the little guy in a landscape of giants, believing every day that small change matters and will lead to bigger things.
Thank you to all who supported me this year in any way. Big all small, every tiny bit counts! Thank you!