Veteran bartender working to teach others how to reduce waste behind the bar

By Stella Acquisto

A veteran Toronto bartender has spent the last five years doing her part to reduce waste behind the bar and teaching others around the world how to do the same.

Kelsey Ramage has been bartending for 17 years and is sharing her breadth of knowledge using her business called the Trash Collective Inc.

“I educate bartenders and consumers about how to reuse ingredients, use them to get the maximum amount of flavor, but also to reuse them multiple times before they actually get thrown out,” shared Ramage. “So we’re trying to reduce as much as we purchase and then reduce by reducing how much we’re throwing away.”

Inspired by some of her chef friends who were trying to waste less food, she saw a need in the bartending industry and created the anti-waste program as a result.

“Very few people doing it from a bar perspective. I kind of saw an opportunity to start doing it. And also, I was very immersed in the bar industry at the time, so it just seemed like a perfect kind of coexistence.”

She said most of the time, convincing someone of how worth it it is to reduce waste is the hardest part.

“I usually talk about the cost benefits, but I try to keep it to very simple ingredients that they have on hand. So, things like lemons and limes, maybe like avocado pits, just different things that they know and use regularly.

Ramage also advocates for bartenders to support local.

“I also try to feed in a little bit of locality. So, making sure that when you are buying things that they’re as local as possible and that you’re supporting small farmers.”

There’s been a large uptick in bartenders adopting this idea of reducing waste, Ramage said, something she noticed when she went on tour with her business.

“I went on tour for a long time, talking about it and educating and now it’s not the sole focus of a bar program anymore. It’s just like incorporated into what a lot of people do, which I think is the entire point of this.”

The business has taken to focusing on curating cocktail menus with restaurants and bars with a focus on anti-waste and sustainability along with the education side.

Her main tip to other bartenders who want to get started is to take an audit of what they are wasting.

More details, along with cocktail recipes are available on the Trash Collective Inc. website.

With files from Meredith Bond

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