Sustainable development, as defined by the United Nations (UN), refers to “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
Standing on traditionally three pillars – people, planet and profit, the main idea is to be able to further growth without squandering the resources that we have. Sadly, while the concept is often acknowledged, it is yet rarily practiced.
Having a social mission at our core, alongside the obvious need for profit, it hasn’t taken a long time for us to start integrating the “planet”, or environmental aspect to it too.
Baby steps at first, of course.
Plastic Bags and Packaging
It’s no wonder one-time plastic bags have been increasingly banned in cities, states, and sometimes even nations. The bags are discarded without thought, seldom reused, all the while they linger in nature, polluting cities, forests and oceans alike. So we’ve decided to slightly change things up, and severely limit our use of plastic bags – we’re still trying to find alternatives for some of our products, which are still packaged into it such as cookies (if you have any alternatives in mind, please let us know, we’ll gladly switch to more viable solutions!)
Our paper bags are hand-made at the bakery, with many of those featuring handles made of scraps of fabric, leftovers from our sewing operations LShell. The bags are easily reusable and severly limit not only plastic pollution, but fabric waste too.
Some of our treats, specifically donuts and pastries, are stored for transport in paper boxes, handmade at the bakery as well.
Plastic Straws and Alternatives
Plastic straws have been quite the talk these past few years, but have received more and more attention in the past few months specifically. Most drinks that you would get in Hanoi are needlessly served with straws to match, and when one thinks long and hard, you will find that most of those drinks are served cold. Is it the ice that we add that spurs us to add one of those colourful, one time use only, plastic tubes to our drinks? Is there really any other reason? Any drink should, except if met with certain physical conditions requiring it, be able to be drunk without one, that what most of us do at home anyway, right?
However, you’ve been asking, we’ve been looking. Alternatives to the traditional plastic straws are plentiful when you think of it, ranging from pasta to bamboo straws or even paper straws. At this point in time, the café still uses plastic straws soon to be relaced by paper straws, upon request. At any other time, customers will kindly be asked to sip their drinks simply through the rim of their glass. A trial period will be installed at first, seeing which of the many options would be most viable in our situation – we will of course keep you posted on its progress.
A self-sustainable production cycle
As you already know, we indeed have our own farm located in Hoa Binh, which provides us with most of our produce (ICYMI, here’s more information about it). Not only have we made a commitment to not use any chemicals that could negatively affect the Earth, we’ve prohibited pesticides and GMOs as well.
But the farm, as being part of our integrated supply chain, also offers a treasure trove of other functions. Our canteen operations, try as we might, still deliver leftover food at the end of the day. Serving only the freshest of produce to our students, all excess is transferred to the farm and either serves as food for the animals, or transformed into compost through worm composting. The facility was set up in 2016 and now provides most of the nutrients necessary for the crops to grow. From farm to table and back indeed.
Community Development in Hoa Binh
Boosting the Local Economy
Our farm lies atop a hilly countryside landscape, bordered by mountains and a long flowing river, making it ideal farmland. While many of the locals have harvested their own crops for as long as anyone can remember, the donkey farm has also provided multiple opportunities for employment, in a variety of ways.
Having entered the realm of agriculture without so much as a whisp of knowledge, we’ve had to grow the first few crops through trial and error, and as we learn, so we can teach. Seeking to boost even a small part of the local economy, we’ve proceeded to employ mostly locals. As such, our caretakers and most of the farmers know the lands as the back of their pockets, having grown up there.
A Touch of English and Sustainability
Always finding new and creative ways to give back to her country and help others however she can, Luyen Shell, co-founder of Donkey Bakery has decided to give a helping hand to the younger generations. Every Sunday, Ms. Hanh Vu, a Nun with a heart of gold goes to the farm to teach the children English. The group is eclectic and features young and old, and for one hour and a half, the learn a language foreign to their ears. Most of the subjects learned are centered around sustainability, the practices one might take up to take care of planet Earth and its importance in the grand scheme of things.