This week, Tazzetto exhibited at the NYS Innovation Summit, a gathering of business leaders and innovators to showcase leading-edge innovations to build connections that will drive economic growth. Tazzetto was also interested in making a point to drive sustainable ecological and social growth as well. Tazzetto co-founder Vincent Arena was invited to speak at the “Future of Food Panel”, where he urged that business leaders, academia, and others alike come together to coordinate their actions around making the necessary systemic changes to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) are the United Nations’ blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges that we as humans face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The 17 SDG’s interconnect to achieve the same essential goals and are meant to create a more equitable future, where no one is left behind.
Tazzetto was one of the most buzzing booths at the conference, with a constant flow of people curiously lining up to inquire what exactly we were. The pleasantly surprised and fascinated look on people’s faces once they realized that Tazzetto was unlike any other cafe spoke for itself. Tazzetto is not just a cafe, but is a concept that pushes boundaries unlike other cafes have before. Tazzetto integrates quality products and tradition with sustainability and innovation. Tazzetto wants to give customers a rich experience of italian culture, which also has more of an emphasis on staying and enjoying food and coffee, and less on the take-away culture that has plagued american culture (and landfills) in the last century. Tazzetto has plans of incorporating more compostable, sustainable packaging for its products, and creating a process of production which creates as little waste as possible.
This conference was about innovation, which means finding ways to push forward in creating new solutions and ideas to modern-day issues. Innovation is also solving problems that we didn’t even know existed, with a creative and visionary approach.
However, not all innovations are sustainable. We need to take systems thinking into consideration when innovating new products. New innovative products designed to be sustainable are great, but if they exist in a system that cannot properly support them, then the intention of their initial design becomes lost. For example, in our first prototype cafe in Island Park, New York, there was no commercial recycling pickup or centralized composting infrastructure, so even if a coffee shop wanted to be socially and environmentally responsible and source all compostable and recyclable materials, their efforts would be in vain. There are many roadblocks out of the control of business owners that prevent them from being sustainable, no matter how well-intentioned they are.
As the UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned, “If I have to select one sentence to describe the state of the world, I would say we are in a world in which global challenges are more integrated, and the responses are more and more fragmented. And, if these are not reversed, it is a recipe for disaster”. As business owners, government officials, and academia, we need to come together to create sustainable change together, and coordinate our actions around doing so as fast as possible.
In conclusion, “there are no sustainable products in an unsustainable system,'' says Vincent. Even if Tazzetto invested in expanding its 100% biodegradable products, or 100% recyclable products, almost all of those resources would still end up in a landfill or incinerated, in the current system. We need to do the best thing that we can, understanding that it’s not enough to just make sustainable decisions and incremental progress - grand sweeping systemic change is absolutely necessary.
Judy Greco, Tazzetto’s newest member of the team, also attended the event to better prepare her for her role as a cafe operations manager and executive assistant to the CEO. Judy is an avid environmentalist who studied at FIT at the intersection of business, sustainability, fashion, and international studies. Judy hopes to aid Vincent in the vision of obtaining a more cohesive and interconnected system of sustainability within society by educating customers, employees and suppliers in making better decisions, starting with one coffee shop. She hopes that one successful and sustainable business model can make a ripple effect to create waves in the broken system that is the food industry.