A small team from across our company took a day away from our offices and award-winning restaurants to join other local policy makers, business leaders, advocates, and community members to participate in an all-day, annual Trash Summit at George Mason University.

Led by the Alice Ferguson Foundation, this year’s focus was seeking “Business Solutions for Plastic Pollution.” Co-owner Dan Simons was part of the opening panel, moderated by Michael Berger of Elevation Burger, and discussed the ins and outs of operating a sustainable restaurant company for over 10 years.

Tweets from @aliceferguson throughout the day pointed to the lively and informative conversations, including Dan’s discussion on “the delicate relationship between mission and profit,” which creates opportunities such as “the responsibility and gift of educating customers on going straw-free.”

As DC’s Best New American Restaurant, we work hard to not only serve scratch-made, delicious food and drink, but also to preserve the beauty and health of our great city, which includes helping to educate our neighbors on everything we know (and do) to operate more sustainably.

Our Last Straw, the non-profit we launched over the summer, hosted an information table to share more about our efforts to build a coalition of restaurants and other hospitality-oriented businesses, local government agencies, NGOs, and community members to eliminate plastic drinking straws throughout the DC region.

“Even though small, plastic straws contribute to the plastic problem across the world,” said Dan Simons. “We see straws as an important gateway to eliminating other single-use plastics and an important part of our sustainability efforts, both within the walls of our restaurants and far beyond.”

Erin Chalkley, our Construction & Development Project Manager and LEED Green Associate, who helps us build and manage our waste systems, including running regular waste audits, also led two roundtables on waste reduction in restaurants.

Participants expressed considerable interest in what we’ve learned in more than a decade of running sustainable restaurants, which are LEED certified and have earned 3 Star Green Restaurant Association certifications, as well as additional accolades, such as our most recent Near-Zero Waste Award, one of two recent GRA award wins.

This all-day meeting created much opportunity for continued learning for our team. We are grateful to the Alice Ferguson Foundation for a lively and informative day of education, networking, and outreach. We are looking forward to a productive future working closely with their Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, including participating in this annual Trash Summit.