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Sustainability: Not Just a Buzz Word

Pinch Food Design is a small-to-medium business, and like all companies, we have many responsibilities. Sustainability may not always be foremost in one's thoughts between team management, customer service, sales, meetings, and the seemingly never-ending turbulence and challenges we saw in 2020 and now in 2021. However, sustainability has begun to be integral to long-term success. An international study by Unilever (May 2017) revealed that a third of consumers purchase from brands they believe are environmentally positive.


Previously, sustainability was only significant for businesses that included green efforts in their customer-facing image, emphasizing this in marketing materials to try and capture a specific demographic. A company's sustainability practices, and pledges have become factors in deciding what vendors and companies to partner with. Business Insider recently (April 2020) revealed that 47% of people had abandoned businesses that didn't align with their core values As sustainability has continued to move forward as a determining factor, it's vital for every company to engage in the conversation of implementing green practices. And what's more, it's good for our planet.

Carbon Farming at Glynwood’s Farm in Cold Spring, New York. Photo courtesy Pinch Food Design.

Prioritizing sustainability isn't just about capturing new customers. These practices can help keep a business alive longer by helping the bottom line, too. While some sustainability tools require more investment upfront, small changes can reduce costs over the long term.

Where to begin?

Going Green can be complex, and the question often is, 'Where do we start?' Below are some of the strategies Pinch Food Design has implemented into our daily operations. 

Seasonal products 

We focus on seasonal menus where possible—using ingredients in season and locally available cuts down on the transportation costs that would otherwise be needed to secure foods from areas with climates that naturally produce these items. Cutting out this step is not only good for the earth but the client's budget as well.   


Composting also became a hot topic this year. While this trend seems to have originated in the home, Pinch Food Design has implemented this into our daily operations. Composting continues to receive legislative attention, and city composting programs are becoming more talked about.  

One of Pinch Food Design's plant-based Hors d’Oeuvres aptly named The Garden. It’s been reported by numerous research that a reduction in consumption of meats is important in the avoidance of further adverse environmental damage. Photo courtesy Pinch Food Design.

Established in 2011, the GrowNYC Compost Program strives to make composting second nature for all New Yorkers by operating residential Food Scrap Drop-off sites and partnering with community composting facilities to make compost locally. Currently, re-building and fundraising in the wake of budget cuts related to COVID-19, the Compost Program has re-opened 15 food scrap drop-off sites serving five thousand regular weekly participants, diverting over 20 tons of food scraps from landfills each week. 

Composting is the perfect use for food waste, and this undertaking is ideal for a "sustainability team." 

More ways to become greener 


Place a recycling area in your office and encourage staff to reuse mugs, glasses, dishes, and cutlery rather than use disposables. 

Elimination of single-use plastics 

Samir Singh, Executive Vice President of Unilever, says that "Plastic pollution is undoubtedly one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time. We can see its impact on our planet every day."

The restaurant and catering industry has seen a plethora of legislation proposed to ban plastic straws and disposable cutlery. Another look at a positive step into the commitment to the health of the future. 

Food waste awareness 

As I mentioned earlier, food waste is one of the fastest-growing problems in our country. According to REFED (Feb 2020), every year, American consumers, businesses, and farms spend $218 billion a year growing, moving and then disposing of food that is never eaten. And food waste is heavily linked to the restaurant and catering business. 

However, forty-nine million Americans, or one out of seven people, are food vulnerable, casing many to wonder where their next meal will come through. But we send over 52 million tons of food to the landfill each year. Understanding we have a food waste crisis and talking about it is a step in the right direction. 

Food donation 

Food donation is one of the easiest ways for food businesses to contribute to the growing problem of food waste. Caterers and restaurants can donate their excess food to people who need it the most. And many food banks will pick up food donations, saving you disposal costs. Caterers are protected from criminal and civil liability under the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act to encourage food and grocery product donations to non-profit organizations for distribution to individuals in need.  

Pinch going green 

We wanted to be vocal in championing the importance of sustainability to long-term growth. Our work is as much about sustainability as it is about taste and presentation. Our tastefully curated and interactive catering experiences are designed to maximize your guests' surprise and delight while minimizing the impact on the environment. 

While sustainability has always defined our aesthetic, in 2020, we advanced environmental stewardship to the next level. By rolling out initiatives to improve processes throughout the entire life of your event–from the upstream supply chain and through our daily operations, and at and after the party–we will achieve our goals using key ingredients: sustainable food and beverage sustained carbon neutrality, and a 100% zero waste pledge. 

By partnering with The Earth Institute at Columbia University (to quantify our carbon emissions), Terrapass (to offset those emissions), g2 revolution (for hard-to-recycle plastics) and Royal Waste (for composting), we're leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of our present mission. 

By partnering with Zero Foodprint, we're also looking ahead, funding the future of sustainable agriculture so that organic and responsibly sourced produce doesn't have to be a luxury. 

The best part? We do it without compromising. Flavor + aesthetics = same great parties and a healthier planet.  


Stella Rankin

Founding Partner, Pinch Food Design

Food and entertainment, Stella Rankin knows it intimately.  As one of the Founders of the celebrated Pinch Food Design, a top-tier catering and design company based in NYC, she has had almost 20 years of experience in production and live events focusing on luxury, fashion, and lifestyle.

An expert in the luxury food, beverage, and design industry; she is known in her field as an dynamic self-starter and passionate entrepreneur. In addition to representing Pinch in day-to-day operations, she is a big believer in the power of collaboration, always seeking new relationships or reinforcing the old with like-minded tastemakers, acclaimed designers, and professional party planners.