By: Steve Kurland- General Manager/ Partner

Most of you know how seriously we take the environment as it relates to our food. My partner and our chef, Peter McCarthy has blogged about our menu and sourcing. He has written about where and why we source our ingredients and how it positively impacts the environment. The “where” is local farms and purveyors and the “why” is because it tastes great and is environmentally friendly.

Today, I would like to discuss some of the other things we do to honor our eco-friendly beliefs. When we built EVOO and Za in Kendall Square, we were the first LEED-certified restaurant in Massachusetts. We obtained Gold-level LEED certification by, among other things, using earth-friendly building materials and furnishings. Almost all the wood in the restaurant- our floors, sliding doors, and our Za tables- comes from re-sourced materials. New trees were not cut down to make these items.

The EVOO tables are made from PaperStone, recycled paper held together with a non-petroleum resin, and bamboo, a naturally renewable resource. Our stone table, counters, and bar are made of schist locally quarried near Worcester, MA. We went and picked out the stone that we liked, and it was trucked 40 miles rather than being shipped across the country or the ocean, saving petroleum. When we purchased these tables, we made the decision not to use tablecloths; tablecloths are washed using caustic chemicals and we are proud for guests to see our tables.

The next time you dine with us, ask our staff or managers about our build-out and furnishings. We’re proud to show them off!

Speaking of chemicals, whenever possible, our cleaning chemicals are plant-based and non-caustic. We use a local company called Suburban Supply. The chemicals are more expensive than bleach and traditional window cleaner, but we make this investment because we believe in doing our part to help take care of the planet.

When you see our staff cleaning windows or tables, you can feel comfortable that we are using the lowest-impact solutions we can find.

We also source renewable materials for our take-out boxes and utensils. The Za pizza boxes are made of corn silk and, in addition to being compostable, can withstand heat up to 400 degrees, so guests can reheat the pizza in the take-out box (remember to take off the lid!). Our “plastic” to go utensils are not actually plastic- they are made from vegetable starch. Our straws are unwrapped (why cause unnecessary paper waste?) and made of vegetable starch as well. 

The City of Cambridge enacted a Bag Ordinance, requiring no plastic bags at all, recycled paper bags and containers only, and a ten-cent charge for a handled to go bag. Other than the bag charge fee, this required very little adjustment for us. We have always sourced eco-friendly take-out materials. Again, this is more expensive than buying conventional straws and plastic “Thank You” bags, but these are our beliefs.

On your next take-out or delivery order from Za or EVOO, whether you get a delicious seasonal specialty pizza from Za or an eclectic, locally sourced entrée from EVOO, we hope you are aware that our containers are eco-friendly and user-friendly.

Finally, not many people get excited talking about waste, but it is important to us. We compost and recycle as much as we can and minimize our overall waste. Part of the way we treat food with respect is to use as much of an animal or vegetable as we can. We buy whole animals and vegetables and break them down, using what others consider scraps or waste to make delicious charcuterie items, stocks, and sauces. Very little is wasted. When tables are bussed, the return is divided into compost, recycling, and trash. The compost is used for farms among other things. The recycled materials are, as you would expect, recycled. In the City of Cambridge recycling is “single-streamed”; The materials are broken down further into components that can be re-purposed or recycled. Additionally. Our waste oil is picked up by Lifecycle Renewables, a company that turns it into reusable fuel.

We make great food out of all the meat and vegetables we get from our local purveyors. Check out our Za menu and EVOO menu to see how delicious “scraps” can be. 

We do these things because we believe in them. We are one of the most eco-friendly restaurants in the Boston/ Cambridge area. We hope that you visit EVOO and Za to enjoy our food, service, and ambience and because you agree with us about positively impacting the environment.