Owner Priscilla Lane-Rondeau came up with the idea for 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria when she realized that there was no place in New Hampshire that she could have a nice glass of wine and a homemade slice of pizza made from fresh, good quality ingredients.
MEMBER FEATURE: a conversation with Priscilla Lane-Rondeau, Owner of 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria
The Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean extends a mile deeper than Earth's highest point, Mt. Everest. As the deepest part of the ocean, you'd expect any images of this vast underwater world to inspire awe and wonder. In April, however, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a picture of the Mariana Trench and people were horrified by the image that took front and center, a single use plastic bag.
"People don't realize," says Priscilla Lane-Rondeau, owner of 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, "The straw you use for 20 minutes will last forever in the environment." In an effort to decrease the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our environment, however, Priscilla and other sustainability conscious restaurant owners are launching a campaign to completely eliminate the use of plastic straws. This campaign, informally referred to as "Skip the Straw" or "Stop Sucking," is one very achievable and practical way that we may all help offset our plastic use wastage.
900 Degrees used to go through 10,000 plastic straws a month. In the restaurant industry, including a straw with every beverage is such a pervasive practice that servers and bartenders often do so without a second thought. To help employees transition over to going strawless, Priscilla cleverly selected shorter glasses to serve drinks in. For customers who insist on a straw, 900 Degrees offers a compostable corn alternative. The cost of providing this alternative carries about a tenfold increase in price and is much more expensive to the restaurant. Ideally, with the educational component of "Skip the Straw," posters and table tents to encourage customers to rethink their resource usage, customers will stop requesting straws altogether.
"Restaurants are some of the biggest waste contributors when you account for everything from napkins to single use to-go containers," Priscilla explains, "so it is important for restaurants to be aware and to take responsibility for this." From using shades and rugs made from recycled materials, to LED lights, composting, and even the type of glue that is used for the floor tiles, Priscilla is always looking for ways to be more environmentally responsible in her restaurants.
The biggest challenge, Priscilla believes, is that restaurant owners do not have the awareness or time to research better, sustainable practices. But she hopes to use her involvement in the NH Lodging & Restaurant Association as a platform to help inspire others in the hospitality industry to be more sustainable. "It is possible to have an amazing product and be concerned about the environment," Priscilla empathically advocates. Employing 130 full and part time workers and having just opened its third location in Portsmouth, 900 Degrees exemplifies just that.
You can reach out to Priscilla at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about "Skip the Straw" and her sustainability efforts in the restaurant industry. And, if you're craving a nice glass of wine, paired with your favorite slice of pizza, be sure to stop by either the Manchester, Epping, or Portsmouth 900 Degrees location.