Sustainability is a vastly broad topic, and we find it’s one that’s often difficult to talk about without coming across as sententious. Nevertheless, it’s a subject that needs to be discussed because it’s one that relates to every aspect of our lives. Each one of us has a responsibility for the welfare of the planet we live on. In the workplace, in the home, in the street - every day we’re faced with moral dilemmas and have to make decisions that reflect who we are and what we believe in.
We may ask ourselves: “how can I make sure, to the best of my ability, that I'm doing right by Mother Nature?” Well the answer is simple: let’s think about what we consume, how much of it we consume, where it came from and how it got here. By simply taking a moment to contemplate these questions, we can start to think about how we can make the right decisions when it comes to minimizing the impact we have on our planet.
A little story from Aidan... "My mum has always been a militant recycler. As a kid, on many an occasion I’d find myself with one arm submerged in egg shells and other culinary gloop, after being ordered to dig whatever plastic container I’d tossed in there out of the food waste bin and into the appropriate recycling box. I guess lessons like that stick with you, and they’re probably the reason why I’ve grown into a similarly ardent recycler as an adult. Sustainability and environmental mindfulness have become something that’s incredibly important to me, and they play a big part in the way I live my life. So when I started planning to set up my own business, I knew that ethos would undoubtedly be reflected in the way I’d go about things."
No bottled mineral water – disposable glass bottles have no place at our dining table. We use a smart water filter from Phox - a multi-award winning British company who created the world's first refillable filter cartridges using activated carbon derived from coconut shells.
Growing in the neighbourhood – We source most of our fruits, vegetables and herbs from small-scale organic urban horticultural growers based in the borough.
On our doorstep - We’ve overhauled and completely renovated a local growing space, and cultivate lots of our own produce too.
Cream of the crop - we churn our own butter from raw, unpasteurised Guernsey cream that we source from a local farmers market. The resulting by-product from this process; the buttermilk, is always used in some form on the menu each time we make a new batch of butter.
Zero waste - this philosophy is right at the very core of our ethos, and it dictates the way we go about our daily routine. We strive to implement a zero waste approach to cooking in a myriad of ways, from the aforementioned use of by-products such as buttermilk to the making of our own breadcrumbs.
Foraging – the hedgerows, towpaths and marshlands of Hackney provide a bounty of wild foods for our menus. We use some things freshly harvested on the day, and also do lots of preservation from spring and summer’s abundance for the harsher times of year.
Minimize carbon footprint - it’s imperative that the produce travels as little as possible to get from where it grew to where it will be consumed.
Reduce plastics - we buy the majority of our dry store goods from Jarr Market, a local plastic-free bulk store.
Shop local and invest in the community – meat and fish are sourced exclusively from small, reputable independent purveyors around the borough.
Close the loop – all of the food waste produced at Eleven98 is donated to Aidan's mum's next-door neighbour José, for her wormery. Her creepy-crawlies convert it to nutrient-dense compost from which a "worm tea" is extracted. We use this as a natural fertiliser at our veg garden.
The bee’s knees – We buy seasonal 'Hackney Garden Honey' from the hives of Amanda Hayes, mother of Nick, one of Aidan's oldest childhood friends. She lives three streets away from where Aidan grew up and her 2017 honey was awarded 'best in class' and 'best in show' by the North London Beekeepers Association.
It’s not what you know - it’s who you know! We'll be doing some project collaboration with family friend Clair Battaglino. Clair is the founder of 'Keen to Green', a small business offering gardening support and specialising in helping people to make the best use of small and medium sized spaces in the urban environment.
Clair also coordinates Rainbow Grow, a Hackney-based, LGBTQI+ led community gardening initiative who are currently renovating and maintaining the garden space at the HCVS building (Hackney Council for Voluntary Services). Clair has been a good friend of Aidan's mother since they met at antenatal classes in 1983, shortly before his older brother Joel was born.
Investing in people – We’ve identified three Hackney-based charities that are doing inspirational work in the borough, and we donate a percentage of the proceeds from our social dining ticket sales to each of them.
Fuelling the debate – We make sure that all of our waste cooking oil is collected by Pure Fuels, a responsible company who refine it into high quality, environmentally friendly fuels. This process produces virtually no waste, and the biodiesel produced from the waste oil they collect has been certified by The Environment Agency certify as Low Environmental Impact.
Squeaky clean – We only use Bio-D for all of our cleaning products. Their stuff is all natural and plant-based, nothing is tested on animals, and the ingredients that go into making them come from reputable sources and have full traceability. They are a member of Sedex – the global organisation which drives improvements in ethical and responsible business practices. Bio-D also follow very strict fair-trade policies.
Squeaky clean 2.0 - we get our toilet paper by subscription from Bazoo, and it's the world's only carbon negative loo roll. It's produced from 100% virgin bamboo, which grows 30x faster, absorbs 35x more carbon and produces 30x more oxygen than hardwood trees. Bazoo are FSC Certified, and there's zero plastic used in the packaging or shipping materials. In addition to being carbon negative, they go the extra mile and donate 10% of their profits to two partnership charities, RAINFOREST TRUST UK and JUSTONEOCEAN, which alleviate the effects of environmental damage through protection and conservation.
It doesn’t grow on trees – our menus are always printed on P.E.F.C. Certified paper from Clairefontaine. The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization which promotes sustainable forest management through independent third-party certification. We buy our menu paper and ink from Argun Printers & Stationers, a cornerstone of the local community since Mr Argun set up shop at Hackney Central back in 1992.