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Earth Matters

Earth Matters: A Zero Waste Brooklyn Cafe Finds a Way

Earth Matters focuses on conservation, sustainability, recycling and healthy living.

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by Kara Weinstein

A few months ago, IXV, a new zero-waste coffee shop in Brooklyn’s Boreum Hill neighborhood, opened its garage doors for the first time. In addition to being sustainable, IXV promised great coffee, even better values, and was within walking distance from my apartment. I couldn’t wait to frequent it. 

But then the novel coronavirus hit. Businesses had to shift their models fast if they wanted to stay afloat, and the planet wasn’t on everyone’s mind as they transitioned. 

IXV was an exception. IXV Founder Jenny Cooper, who formerly worked in the garment industry, leapt to action. She began making handmade, upcycled masks, along with her coffee. And even as IXV took precautions to protect customers, they continued to prioritize earth-friendly practices. With compostable gloves and washable masks, high heat washers and alcohol spray, IXV is able to sanitize everything while staying true to their zero-waste mission.  

IXV was named after Cooper’s grandfather (friends called him IXV), a garment industry worker who inspired her passion for zero-waste. “My grandparents would have one super nice thing,” Cooper says. “If it fell on the floor, they would glue it back together. Half of their pottery had little seams in it, but it was still beautiful.” 

When Cooper left the garment industry, she opened IXV with an eye towards building community and operating ethically. A mutual friend connected her to the Foodprint Group, a company that helps food and hospitality groups design zero-waste strategies, and they assured Cooper that her plans were feasible. Cooper figured, “I’m small and anything that comes up, I’ll be able to handle. Trash issues are problematic, but I’m not answering to shareholders or investors.” 

While definitions of zero-waste vary, Cooper’s is continuously evolving but stays true to her commitment to no trash. She struggles with certain challenges, like the large plastic non-recyclable bags that her coffee beans come in. For now, she is saving them, until she can find a better option. 

And then there’s the issue of composting, which New York recently did away with. Private composting services have yet to reach the neighborhood and creating a compost pile is a daunting enterprise, one that requires knowledge, time, and hard-to-come-by space. At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a great option, so IXV will continue to collect its compost while searching for a workable alternative. 

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In the future, IXV hopes to have a coffee mug swap system with other local coffee shops in the area. If a customer wants a to-go coffee but hasn’t brought their own mug, IXV will offer a reusable mug to then be returned via their special system (it’ll be sanitized for a future customer). 

In addition to masks, IXV is doing everything it can to support the food system. In conjunction with sustainable cafe and caterer, NOURISH, they’ve launched a CSA and other food boxes to support fellow food businesses and farmers. Customers can preorder from the IXV website and pick up their boxes the following week. Each week, the orders will be packed in IXV’s reusable bags. Vendor partners include Norwich Meadow Farms, Happy Valley Meats, East Branch Farms, NOURISH Kitchen + Table, and Runner & Stone. All the proceeds are going straight to the farmers and makers who provide the goods with a 5% charge to cover IXV’s and NOURISH’s costs. NOURISH will also be providing recipes each week to make the most out of the CSA boxes. 

We’ve seen some amazing environmental improvements during this time. Air and water quality has increased, wildlife is returning to their old habitats, and overall emissions have decreased dramatically. It has come at a great cost, but can be a slight silver lining to a lot of sadness. 

Read Earth Matters every Wednesday on Nyack News And Views, or sign up for the Earth Matters mailing list.

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