Interview: Celine Issitt, Founder, Toast Catering
Our third Behind The Scenes feature is one of the most prominent conversations we had acknowledging 2022 International Earth Day. Celine Issitt from Toast Catering gave us an interesting environmental overview below, on how we can enhance the sustainable side of Intelligent Money British GT events this year.
1) Please describe your role at Toast Catering and your relationship with SRO?
I am the founder of Toast Catering, we are a caterer and distributor of carton water. In 2021 I approached SRO with my view of a zero-waste strategy in the paddock and the practical steps which could be taken to achieve that.
When I set up my catering company many years ago, I promised I would never supply plastic bottled water to my clients, and we never did. I went looking for mineral water alternatives and found a solution - mineral water in a carton. That strategy alone attracted likeminded businesses looking for an eco-responsible catering offer. That was a decision that was easy to make, easy to implement and I have never had any regrets about it. Over the years we have supplied thousands of cartons of water at the events we manage, and not one plastic bottle, ever!
We arrived in the motorsports paddock in 2020 with a vision to not only supply good, healthy, seasonal and fresh cooked food, but also to keep an eye on the bigger environmental picture.
After two years of working in the paddock of racing events, and by the end of 2021, seeing the volume of plastic being used and disposed of, I thought - enough, this has to change! Competitors want to change, they just have not been given concrete options for making effective changes within the constraints of the racing world. Seeing that SRO themselves had encouraged eliminating single use plastic in their paddocks in 2022, as part of their own sustainability strategy, I thought this is where we fit as a water supplier. We can help enhance the sustainable side of Intelligent Money British GT’s events.
2) Please describe your involvement with sustainability in your private daily life?
I would not describe myself as an eco-warrior as I feel that blocks the conversation. I am more interested in making the right decisions. The professional choices I make around sustainability coexist in my private life too, I refuse to consume and use plastic, I’m very focused on recycling, upcycling and making green choices constantly.
In parallel to taking action, I equally like to spread the word about eco-friendly decisions and initiate conversations on living sustainably in my personal surroundings.
In my opinion, companies that sell us (in our everyday life) products that are bad for the environment sometimes make it hard to make the right choices, because they dominate the market with products that are harmful but convenient to purchase and easily affordable. I believe that as a collective voice we can now say no. We have to say no. The impact on the environment is clear for us all to see. As a collective we can no longer ignore the harm plastic does and we must look for sustainable alternatives. We can all adopt a reuse, recycle, repair mindset to our daily lives.
We have to make better choices and we can all do that, now.
3) Why is sustainability important to Toast Catering?
Sustainable choices for any business are extremely important, as all businesses make an impact on the environment. To not take sustainability seriously quite simply means that a business lacks responsibility and a vision for the future.
For us at Toast Catering it is important to find the time to stop and evaluate the environmental outcomes of our operations, test sustainable improvements and report the results. Based on the evaluation outcomes we tend to make changes that improve the footprint of our business operations and help have a lower impact on the environment. We have learnt a lot during our time in the paddock, some necessary improvements have proved difficult to implement, but I will always push my business to do better.
I believe each company should adopt a “stop, evaluate, test and report” approach. As it is not always about the bottom line, corporate operations have huge environmental stakes. When the profit motivation exceeds the purpose motivation, bad things happen. We have all seen irresponsible businesses destroy the environment in the quest to make more profit and as business owners we can choose which side of the fence we want to be on. Everyone needs to pick a side.
4) How can Toast Catering contribute towards plastic free Intelligent Money British GT events in 2022?
At the end of the 2021 season and after reflecting on the past years of operating on motorsport events, I personally felt uncomfortable with my company’s contribution to the problems of waste.
Since we are now operating according to our 2022 sustainability strategy, we have already seen an 87% reduction in waste in our hospitality operations. We are adopting new habits, changing old practices and learning to evolve. A waste reduction of 87% is a great start, but we can still do better and we will continue to look at every detail of what we do, examine how we do it and implement necessary changes in order to get to a zero waste operation.
As an official distributor of two manufacturers of carton mineral water, we offer these two options to competitors on SRO’s Intelligent Money British GT Championship events, aiming to reduce and eliminate the use of plastic bottles.
As a sustainable caterer and water supplier, we offer to implement the following concrete actions during race events:
- Supply of mineral water in cartons. Teams still need a portable solution for mineral water. The carton mineral water uses no plastic and even the lids are biodegradable and completely compostable.
- Installation of filtered mineral water systems in hospitality tents and pits, to reduce bottled water. We supply washable glasses and water jugs for the tables. We have seen a huge reduction in the consumption of water ‘on the go’ with the filtered water units we have installed so far.
- We talk to teams, quite simply, we engage in the conversation. We are all in the paddock together, and by swapping tips, giving advice and working together we help each other. I am more than happy to help teams analyse what they do and share how we do things. Sometimes it is the smallest steps that make a noticeable difference.
We are aware that we set the bar high when we launched a promise to move towards a zero-waste offer in our hospitality operations. But we believe everyone should set ambitious goals, and each incremental change implemented will contribute towards that big goal, make the much-needed difference and help to achieve the reduction of waste our Planet desperately needs.
5) In your opinion, what are the three most important steps in terms of sustainability Intelligent Money British GT competitors should immediately adopt?
1. Evaluate how you consume water.
2. Evaluate why you use plastic, and stop using it.
3. Evaluate how you dispose of your waste and why you produce so much.