Rick’s Cafe adopts ‘green’ materials

Rick's food containers aren't made of styrofoam anymore. They are made of sugar cane including the ramekins. (Photo by Briana Rucker, SDN)

Staff Writer

Rick Welch, owner of Rick’s Cafe in Starkville, made contributions within his business to save the environment by replacing plastic disposables with sustainable materials.

As the president of the Oktibbeha County Humane Society board, Welch cares about animals near and far.

“He sees all these awful things in videos of plastic in the ocean and everything so he really wanted to start being more sustainable,” Rick’s Cafe General Manager Ryan Handran said.

Six months ago, Welch began to look into the costs of making Rick’s Cafe more sustainable.

The hunt was difficult as sustainable options are limited.

Rick’s Cafe was accustomed to the cheapest alternative because the business deals in volume when large concerts are hosted with up to 800-900 guests.

After researching, Welch found it was more expensive to be sustainable and cheaper to keep plastic disposables.

“All of this stuff costs at least three times as much as the stuff that we were using before or like the easy-disposable plastic,” Handran said.

The bar also plans to incorporate more glass when necessary.

“The first two R’s are reduce and reuse so we are switching to reusable glass and try to use less disposable stuff in the first place,” Handran said.

When disposable cups and food containers are needed, the business has paper wax cups for water, biopolymer cups, food and ramekin containers made of sugar cane, and their favorite - straws made of hay.

“These (straws) are one of the biggest things that we just think are really cool,” Handran said.

The biopolymer cups can be placed in a compost pile.

“There’s not a lot of stuff out there like this because the market is just now changing and straws just became taboo,” he added.

Handran mentioned that paper straws fall apart after sitting in a sweaty drink for 45 minutes.

“A metal straw wouldn’t work here either,” Handran said.

The team had to weigh their limited options and concluded that their new items will be perfect for the establishment.

They still receive plastic in shipments that they don’t have control over, but Harden said the things they do have control over will be a sustainable option.

“That’s becoming less important than Rick’s footprint. As Rick gets older he’d rather make a little less money and leave the world a little nicer place,” Handran said.