LOCAL COMPANIES MAKING STRIDES TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY

Phyllis Theermann

boloco

Sustainable Wellesley will be doing a series highlighting local companies making strides towards sustainability. This is the first in that series. Email us with other suggestions.

Boloco, the purveyor of “globally inspired burritos,” opened its Wellesley location at 102 Central Street – in Wellesley Square next door to the Central Street Fire Station – in October 2012. Anyone who has eaten at a Boloco will recognize its eclectic, globally inspired menu and the friendly staff as well as the usual “green” elements in the restaurant. But Boloco’s sustainability efforts go well beyond the use of recyclable plastic utensils, paper bags and compostable napkins. Sustainability pervades throughout Boloco, and it all begins with its founder and CEO John Pepper who started Boloco (nee “The Wrap”) in 1997 with the philosophy that everything should be done as responsibly as possible.

boloco recycles

This philosophy is evident upon first entering the restaurant and seeing the reclaimed wood, the LED lighting and the many recycling stations. As noted by Paul Booras, Boloco’s VP of Operations, there are also many examples of Boloco’s philosophy that aren’t immediately apparent. In the kitchen, food waste is composted and recycling is sorted to ensure that the waste stream that goes out with the regular trash is reduced. The cleaning products used throughout the restaurant are “green” – natural with low-toxicity – which provides a better experience for both customers and employees. Boloco is also trying to develop a more compostable wrap for its unique burritos to replace the foil that is currently used and only partially recyclable (i.e., the foil can only be recycled when not contaminated with food).

While these sustainability efforts are important and helped Boloco earn a 2-Star Certification by the Green Restaurant Association, Boloco is just as proud of its efforts to support the local economy and its many other sustainability efforts that are not always seen by its customers. That’s why it sources its produce and dairy from local companies,reducing transportation miles and emissions while supporting the local food economy.Boloco takes the local economy and its own role in the community very seriously.

As noted by Paul, with the growth in the sustainability industry, there are many new products and options available to restaurants that want to be environmentally conscious.Boloco is constantly looking for new and better ways to do things; when new products become available, Boloco will typically consider them. Boloco is also in the position to make decisions not solely based on cost or how it will be perceived but rather if it is the right thing to do. For example, Boloco only uses antibiotic-free poultry and grass fed cows for its meat to add nutritional value as well as to reduce the use of corn in the feed.

When asked what he would say to another restaurant that is new to sustainability, Paul indicated it is important to do your homework – including running the numbers – but with the availability of so many great options and products, it really is an easy choice to make. In fact, Boloco believes that its sustainability efforts are cost-neutral but add so much value to its customers and its brand.

It is evident that underlying Boloco’s philosophy is the concept that all of their decisions and the consequences of those decisions do make a difference. It is also obvious that they believe being a responsible member of the community is the right thing to do. Although Boloco shies away from publicizing its sustainability efforts and downplays these aspects of its business philosophy, we hope they won’t mind if we give them a shout out here for those efforts.

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Phyllis Theermann
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