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The Conservatory for Coffee, Tea & Cocoa is a Culver City, CA café across the street from the famous Sony Studios that serves hot and cold coffees roasted in house, over 100 types of tea, bagels with cream cheese, and a selection of pastries. Most customers are locals who work or live in the area, and tourists. Typically, 75% of Conservatory Café customers order for take-out.

Packaging practices prior to ReThink Disposable:

  • Hot drinks were served in a ceramic mug and pastries on a small plate for dine-in customers
  • Conservatory branded reusable mugs were available for purchase adjacent to the service counter without advertised discount
  • Wooden stir sticks, individual sugar and sweetener packets, some bulk spices and sugar (cinnamon, cocoa, white sugar, honey, agave), plastic utensils (forks, spoons, knives), and individually wrapped plastic straws were readily available at the self-serve station
  • Napkins in a dispenser were also located at the self-serve station
  • Plastic water cups were next to the water cooler near the pick-up counter for dine-in

Recommendations Implemented:

  • Reusable tumblers replaced plastic water cups for dine-in
  • Plastic utensils replaced with reusable metal cutlery
  • Wooden stirrers replaced with stainless steel spoons
  • Advertised reusable cup “BYOC” (Bring Your Own Cup) incentive for to-go orders
  • Reinforced staff asking if orders are for-here or to-go and prioritized the use of reusables for on-site dining

The Bottom Line:

  • Staff time and labor cost not impacted
  • Positive feedback from customers
  • Increased sale of branded reusable mugs due to signage advertising the BYOC discount at point of sale

205,008 pieces of disposable packaging reduced per year
$6,899 saved in annual net costs
2,118 pounds of waste eliminated annually

This business certification was completed through a partnership between Clean Water Fund and The Bay Foundation.


I think everybody wants to do the right thing but some of us need more encouragement than others. It’s nice to have someone to be accountable to. This program has kept us accountable, which is great. I have wanted to make these changes for a while now and some of the changes I haven’t even thought of before, so I am glad to have signed up for this program.

— AJ Barish, Owner


Before & After

Conservatory for Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa Before
Conservatory for Coffee Tea and Cocoa After


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