Our march toward zero waste in our shops

Big things are afoot over here.

When Jeni started the company in 2002, her mission was to use every dollar we earned to get better every single day. Each year’s improvement is our measure of success. That’s as true for the ice cream we make, to the ingredients we source, to our sustainability efforts in our shops.

Currently, 95% of what you buy in a shop can be reused, recycled, or composted. Sustainability is a part of who we are as a company. As a proud certified B Corp, it’s woven into our DNA. Which is why, with it being Earth Day, we want to take a moment to celebrate the launch of a big step forward in our march toward zero waste in our shops—our in-shop composting program.

We seriously can’t express how excited we are to tell you about this. Why? Because for a long time, local compost partners didn’t have the technology to accept large volumes of organic waste, particularly ice cream. So even though we have been sourcing compostable bowls, spoons, and napkins in our shops for years (long before any other ice cream company was doing it), this waste had no other destination but a landfill.

For more than a year, our team has been working with compost companies in all of our communities to change this. Now, instead of taking hundreds of years to breakdown, it will take a matter of months to turn spent bowls, spoons, napkins, and ice cream into nutrient-rich compost. Compost that will then be sold or given away to local farmers or residents. This year, our goal is to divert over 150,000 pounds of shop waste from the landfill.

This program has also given us a chance to support local, environmentally friendly businesses who care about doing what’s right. For some compost companies, we are their first big client—and we are excited to support them and help them grow. To help them make composting more accessible for restaurants, residents, and businesses in our communities, something known as a hub.

“It’s critical to have companies like Jeni’s be part of this effort,” says Ray Leard, of Innovative Organics Recycling, our Columbus partner who helped us roll out our pilot compost program last year. “Your stores happen to be located in neighborhoods that are the center of activity for the folks who live nearby. If we can get the hub going with your effort to get other restaurants on board, that reduces the cost for everybody. And increases the tonnage [of collected compost] times five or 10.”

This program also gives us a chance to support cool, local businesses who care about doing what’s right. Our composting partners include Innovative Organics Recycling in Columbus, Rust Belt Riders in Chagrin Falls, The Compost Company in Nashville, WasteNot Compost in Chicago, CompostNow in Atlanta and Charleston, Compost Cab in Washington, D.C., St. Louis Compost in St. Louis, and Crown Town Compost in Charlotte.

There are a few shops where we haven’t yet been able to start a composting program, be it due to a shortage of compost pickup options in the area or space restrictions. Know that we are working to bring these shops on board, leading the way as activists in these communities to spread the word about compost, increase awareness, and support new compost businesses getting off the ground.

How can you help?

We’re so happy you asked! Here are a few ways you can help us continue to reach our goal.

  • Reuse your Cool Bags. These are the beautifully designed bags you get for free with the purchase of three pints. Bring it back to reuse the next time you come in for your pint fix, and we’ll give you $1 off every pint you buy.
  • Look for and use our compost and recycling bins. Most of what you buy in a shop can be thrown in either bin. But if you’re not sure where your trash should go, ask one of our ambassadors. They’re happy to help!
  • Get a cone. As Jeni says, our ice creams are made to be licked. Reduce our use of bowls and spoons even more by ordering your ice cream on a cone.
  • Opt for no receipt or a digital receipt. This will help us reduce paper waste.
  • Oh, and don’t forget to return your metal taster spoons so we can clean and reuse them! 

We know this isn’t something to be celebrated for one day. It’s the last link in a puzzle that we’ve been investing in for a decade. And our work is far from done. Know that we’ll keep pushing forward, every day until we are the best possible stewards of our environment, our community. We hope that the more you learn about who we are and what we do, the more delighted you are. Happy Earth Day.