By Samantha Corpus
Northgate Juice Joint, owned and operated by Lisa Bradway, is one of 19 restaurants in Texas that is Green Certified by the Green Restaurant Association. When the eatery across from Texas A&M first opened three years ago, there were only nine green certified Texas restaurants.
“There’s more and more people and companies saying, ‘You know, this does matter,’” says Bradway, “and not just for sales.”
The GRA rates restaurants on a point scale under seven categories: water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable durable goods and building materials, sustainable food, energy, reusable and environmentally preferable disposables, and chemical and pollution reduction. A restaurant can achieve Green Certified by reaching 100 GreenPoints™, eliminating Styrofoam use, and implementing a full recycling program.
The GRA actively helps restaurants find resources and offers tips and suggestions on how to become Green Certified. “They will try to help you; they’ve helped me,” says Bradway. “We were having some problems getting some compostable items, straws in fact. … So, they helped me hunt down a supplier.”
Since Northgate Juice Joint opened, it has been awarded three stars by the GRA, meaning it has earned at least 175 GreenPoints™. It’s an ever-evolving process. Bradway now uses washable, reusable crop towels instead of disposable paper towels everywhere except for drying hands after each wash, which is a health department requirement. She also works to remain sustainable by growing her own urban garden behind the juice joint, including fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The garden was created from 95 percent repurposed materials. The restaurant’s compostable cups are made of a corn product and begin to melt at temperatures above 100 degrees when empty.
Texas A&M University horticulture students sometimes intern at Northgate Juice Joint to learn more about sustainability and how to maintain a garden. Bradway partners with Brazos Valley Recycling, which has an industrial composting facility and takes the pulp, and with local farmers who provide fresh produce.
“Everything on the Dirty Dozen, which is the Environmental Working Group’s list of produce with the most pesticide and herbicide residues, will always be organic here,” says Bradway, “pretty much everything you’re going to juice and put in a smoothie: strawberries, peaches, grapes, cucumbers, and apples.”
Everything is freshly juiced onsite, and there are vegan and vegetarian snack options and a few gluten free wraps. Everything is homemade with no added chemicals.
Twice a month, Bradway hosts free sustainability classes for anyone who wants to be more environmentally friendly. She’ll even teach you how to grow your own garden. “[Part of] our mission is education because we really want people to understand how harmful the chemicals in our food system are,” says Bradway.
Bradway’s future goals include converting to solar panels, expanding the building upward, and building garden spots throughout the building using recycled materials. She also would like to lease out space to businesses with similar philosophies.
“Once you have the structure in place, it’s really not overly time consuming or expensive,” says Bradway. “And certainly if you have things that conserve water, conserve energy, you’re going to save in the long run.”