1.) Celebrate, honor, and uplift the voices of Black, Indigenous, & People of Color (BIPOC) leaders and organizations whom are co-creating justice and inclusion in our communities.
Sustainability means caring for both land and for people, which is why we continue bridging cultures and creating community with BIPOC-led and founded small businesses and artisans. We support BIPOC small businesses by stocking merchandise from vendors including Urban Native Era. Urban Native Era is an Indigenous-owned small business that seeks to increase awareness that “We Are On Native Land" through their creative headware and clothing. The stories we tell about people, history, and land are so important. Not sure whose land you are on? Learn more on Native Land Digital.
Through our work with BIPOC suppliers and partners, our hot and loose leaf tea line has grown. We are continually inspired by one of our direct trade partners - Nepal Tea Collective - in their work with local tea farms in Nepal. Finding quality whole-leaf tea can be challenging in the U.S as the U.S. tea industry is dominated by low quality tea bags that are often filled with tea dust and microplastics. Nepal Tea Collective's vision of uplifting tea farmers' quality of life and wellbeing has led them to become a direct-trade tea social enterprise in the U.S.
Nepal Tea Collective's work has also inspired us to explore more Taiwanese tea farms and to build direct relationships with farms there. During our recent visit to Taiwan (birthplace of boba tea!), we visited numerous family-owned Taiwanese tea farms and gained inspiration for our tea line. We are excited to share more premium loose leaf teas with you later this year.
One other way we have sought to commit to celebrating and uplifting the voices and work of BIPOC-owned small businesses and artisans this past year has been through our BIPOC Market. Co-hosted and launched with Designs with Jamie this past holiday season at our Waco shop, our second BIPOC Market this Spring will be on Saturday April 29, 2023 with 10+ local vendors from the Waco area and a Buy One, Get One Free Boba drink special (on all classic drinks). We invite y'all to come out and support as we celebrate the creations of our small businesses and artists! Two of our Cha Community team members will be popping up that day!
2.) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, & Compost
Starting up as a small pop-up tent at the Waco Downtown Farmer's Market, we understand the challenges that come with implementing sustainable practices, especially for small businesses. We began our sustainability journey by using more eco-friendly paper and wooden/bamboo forks instead of styrofoam or plastic food containers. We then focused on reducing waste by introducing reusable cups, jars, and boba straws at our shops.
We encouraged our guests to bring their own jars and continued recycling and composting our ingredients in partnership with World Hunger Relief Farm and The Un-Included Club. As we continue our waste diversion journey, we are proud to announce that we will be rolling out biodegradable bamboo straws (see photo above) for to-go drinks starting this Earth Day weekend on April 22, 2023. We will also be hosting a Profit Share all Saturday, April 22, 2023 with Keep Waco Beautiful and The Un-Included Club at our Temple shop (mention these non-profits at our register and a portion of your order will be given back to these organizations!). These innovative straws were developed by Taiwanese researchers and naturally decompose within a few months. We believe that every small step towards sustainability matters and are excited to inspire others to join us on this journey!
As we have continued our journey of sustainability, it has been vital for us to continue connecting with fellow small businesses and organizations in our communities as we seek to co-create community together. We have continued participating in and working alongside the City of Waco Sustainable Practices Resources Board and connecting with vendors - as a fellow vendor - in the new Wednesday evening Bridge Street Farmer’s Market and weekly Saturday morning Waco Downtown Farmer's Market.
In Temple, the Un-Included Club has continued partnering with us to provided us with fresh pea microgreens for our shops. Keep Waco Beautiful and their new Green Business Alliance and annual Green Communities Conference (led by the Waco Sustainability Network) have been exciting places for connection as we seek to grow alongside industries within food & beverage and beyond. This year's Green Communities Conference in Waco will be at the Waco Convention Center from September 18-19, 2023.
Lastly, at Cha Community, we strive to co-create a vibrant and inclusive community through the Asian Leaders Network. As Asian small business owners and leaders in Waco, Texas, we understand the importance of having a space where we can come together and connect with one another. Despite the small and growing Asian population in Waco, there are limited opportunities for us to gather and collaborate.
We believe that our journey of sustainability is not just about ourselves, but also about creating a better world for future generations. As we continue to make small steps in the direction of sustainability, we hope that our efforts inspire you to do the same. Remember - we are ALL connected and by working together, we create a brighter and more sustainable future for our communities and our Earth. In the words of Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson in All We Can Save, “Building community is a requisite foundation for building a better world.” Thank you for joining us on this journey!