Is it possible for a steak ranch to be greening up? Many vegetarians find this hard to believe, but I think we need to always remain open to receiving new facts, which lead to new insights. ALL industries have to and are indeed greening up. Soon the word ‘green’ will disappear entirely – this is simply educated and informed living and working.
Sustainability is the only way forward for all of us. Everyone starts at a point and we like to promote all efforts in the right direction, as we hope to inspire similar concerns to follow good examples. Ultimately such concerns can be certified green, once they are able to tick all the right boxes and earn enough points.
In the meantime we live on a planet in transition. Do you own a restaurant? Are you wondering how to get going? Here are some ideas. This is the Green Times approach.
Last time we told you how Spur had started greening the Cape Town Head Office. If you missed that story, read it here.
Kids feel welcome & learn through fun
Today we bring you part 2 of an interview I conducted with Joe Stead, Environmental Sustainability Gatekeeper for Spur Steak Ranches…
Raising my kids, Spur was the one restaurant I could happily take my children to, as they were catered for. This focus on children is one of their key draw cards and one they take seriously. So their next commitment was towards educating their young customers to look after the earth by means of educational programmes for kids. Here they can learn the important information in a fun way, through games and magazines.
“I think children is where the change is happening far more rapidly,” said Joe.
Spur launched their Totem Magazine in 2008, which has been a wonderful tool to engage with their consumers. It was in those pages that the Eco Warriors were born.
Ecology, ecosystems & endangered species
I paged through the latest edition and noticed that the entire issue was about ecology and saving our ecosystems and endangered species. This is the platform through which Spur shares with their young customers the important issues around sustainability. This is all done in a fun and playful manner – using imagination and creativity at the appropriate level – the way kids learn best.
They have had issues specifically around saving water, endangered species, food for thought, healthy living and much more. Eco Warriors were also developed on their website. This is a practical tool for teachers and for kids to use and learn about:
- how you can go green in your home
- how you can set up a waste management system
- how you can save energy
Here the little ones can also take the Eco Warrions pledge:
Largest youth magazine in the country
The Totem Magazine – a bumper green resource and the largest youth magazine in our country – is available free of charge in all the Spur stores, and new editions come out quarterly. The creative was started in-house, which was a huge task, but they have since outsourced it to a publishing company, which is currently John Brown. It’s printed on newsprint paper, it’s all recyclable. And they use eco-friendly ink as well.
See here how to create a bird feeder for your garden.
“That has been one of my pet projects and it has grown into a valuable contribution to the green education industry. We’ve had wonderful responses and feedback from children, from teachers even, saying they love this issue. Where can they get more?”
I was surprised at the educational role which this steakhouse franchise is playing in our society – something I was oblivious to.
Edutainment engages kids on different levels
“Spur has always been quite closely connected with edutainment, where you engage with the kids on different levels. You’ve got the little ones who love colouring in and playing in the play canyon and engaging on that level. But then you’ve also got your little kids when their brains start being very curious about life and especially those around 9 – 11 are really the ones that engage with the magazine from cover to cover. Your little ones will go to the pages where they can colour in, and of course the teachers look at the spreads about the themes, because we will do a feature spread, which will explain in detail that edition’s theme. And then of course there’s entertainment and wonderful competitions and all sorts of stuff,” Joe elaborated.
Imagine, I said, if we could get some of these materials into the less privileged schools around. Kids who never get to eat at the Spur.
To make this great work more widely available, they are now expanding and developing a bigger digital platform for Totem, so that you can go and download all the resources that are used for the printed version. And then they will also look at subscription, going forward.
“Because 200,000 copies sounds like a lot, but when all the kids come and get it, it’s gone in two weeks. As it’s free at this stage, we cannot print more than what they are currently doing,” said Joe.
Speak to Soaring Eagle
Soaring Eagle, the main character, has an email address. Every now and again there is a school that can’t get hold of the magazine, then they write to Soaring Eagle and he will send a few copies for their class. Learners write to the characters and they respond.
There is also a little Eco Warrior award, where a little one can win an Eco Warrior t-shirt if he or she has done something really amazing for mother earth.
So they can write in about what they’ve been doing?
Children are heard & published
“They can write, yes, they can tell us their stories and then we also share their stories again in the printed version, in our mailbox. And it’s really divine just having that interaction with the children. And it’s all kinds of things, they don’t just write about mother earth. Sometimes they write about how much they love Spur and the good times they’ve had there. Sometimes we even get longhand letters being written, with a long story about the entire family and this and that. And it’s quite amazing to have that insight into our target market on quite a personal level.”
Most people I know, and myself included, have had kiddies parties in the Spur – and it was one place I could go and have a peaceful coffee while my kids were entertained and catered for. This was part of our child rearing lives in this country. So it makes total sense to me that they are shaping little minds to understand the call of the Earth and their role in living responsibly.
“Yes, we are very proud of our engagement through Totem and it’s the kind of stuff that you have to fight hard for and push through. The kids don’t just come for the food, they want to play and be free and eat their ribs with their hands and just have fun. And that’s what the ethos of the brand is – creating those memories. And all the while they are learning good earth stewardship too.”
Conservation partners provide content
I mentioned that most people in the green world might not be aware of this side of Spur at all. How do they link in with conservation organisations?
“We do have partners such as EWT and WWF. Those are people that contribute quite often to the Totem. We share information and we support their projects through this, because you can’t always have a financial pool that you can put forward, but this is quite valuable so we do a trade exchange.”
Indeed, in the green community, almost everything runs on exchanges!
“Absolutely, it’s almost like an old school way of dealing. It’s a wonderful collaborative, organic thing that is just growing like that.”
And so this is where we invite you, our reader, to collaborate for earth and share this story with your friends. Don’t keep it to yourself, pay it forward.
By Elma Pollard