Green-On is more than just a salad bar. Founder Frankie Cox hopes to use the café, situated in a business park in Melbourne’s Cremorne, as a platform to spark conversation and encourage change. “We’re completely purpose led,” she says. “We’re creating an impact with everything we do, whether that’s an impact on the environment, on the community, or on ourselves.”
Frankie’s been a Bank Australia customer for nearly 12 months. “It was really important for me to know where my money was being invested, that it was going to clean and impactful investments,” she says. “It’s an easy way to be more conscious about where you spend your money, and that your dollars are going to other people who consider the environment and impact.”
Speaking of impact, everything about Green-On has been carefully considered, starting with the food.
“The majority of our fresh produce is from within 100 kilometres of the city, and then our dry goods – seeds, nuts and legumes – are all Victorian. We don’t source anything unless it’s from Victoria,” Frankie explains.
Green-On’s menu is dictated entirely by what’s in season. None of their base salads contain meat, most are vegan, and all of them are delicious (extremely delicious). “People say that once they’ve had lunch here, they’re so nourished they don’t need to eat again until dinnertime,” says Frankie.
There are health benefits to eating seasonally as well. Local ingredients are more nutrient dense, because they haven’t spent extended periods of time in refrigerated environments on a plane or ship. Locally grown fruits and veggies are also cheaper, because they’re at their peak.
Drinks at Green-On are only available in aluminium cans, as the material can be recycled and reused again and again. Takeaway salads are served in reusable bowls, provided by Returnr. Customers pay a small deposit for the bowl, enjoy a great salad, and then return it to the café the next time they visit. “Around 60 per cent of our customers are using the bowls for their takeaway,” Frankie says. “Wherever you can eliminate on single use is a really great start.”
All cafes and restaurants have to deal with food waste but, where possible, Green-On use the whole ingredient in their salads to reduce the amount of waste produced. “We keep the tops on the zucchinis, and we roast the leaves of the cauliflower and mix them through salads,” Frankie says. “All these little things can make such a huge change.”
Any green waste that’s created goes to Waste Ninja, who turn it into organic fertiliser and biogas, which goes back onto Melbourne’s electricity grid. And rather than spending money on chemicals to keep things clean, the kitchen has an eWater system installed. “eWater is a salt brine and the unit, which we’ve got plumbed into our kitchen, electrolyzes the water into a cleaning solution. It eliminates the need for harsh chemicals and single-use packaging,” Frankie explains.
Its purpose goes beyond simply cleaning as well. Because it’s a salt solution, it can be used to preserve food and even brine chicken.
Green-On itself is fitted out almost entirely with reclaimed and recycled materials. Their bench tops are made from recycled glass, their stools are built using recycled HPDE plastic shampoo and soap bottles, and their tables have been constructed from recycled concrete and woodchips. Everything in the café has been made locally too.
“We’re a platform for change, but, first and foremost, we’re a delicious salad bar,” Frankie says. “If people eat here a few times a week, it can have an incredible impact not only on themselves, but on the environment and our community.”
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