Down a quiet and charming cobblestone street in Leeds city center, you will find a cozy café which advocates sustainability through to its’ core, Cha Lounge. As you walk into the open plan eatery, you are met with recycled wood furnishings and fittings, deep colors and a hand-made counter that were all put together to invite you into this carefully crafted environment. Opened by a brother and sister dynamic duo, Cha Lounge was born to fulfill a lifelong ambition - to create change and encourage sustainability while providing healthy, locally sourced food where possible, which is always Fairtrade.
What is sustainability and why is it important to us?
To be sustainable is to show respect toward our home, Earth, by avoiding the depletion of natural sources and maintaining ecological balance. The steadiness of “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” is perhaps one of the most meaningful and accurate definitions of sustainability given by the UN created Brundtland Commission.
Why is sustainability important to us?
It stems from a deep feeling of respect for the environment and a sense of responsibility to make a difference. We imagined a place where people could enjoy healthy meals, discussions and even celebrate personal milestones in a friendly environment which
brings peace of mind. Our impact on the earth was at the forefront of our planning. Every small step taken can make significant change and contribute to a better world.
How do we stand by our ethos?
In every aspect of our daily routines, training and running of the café we incorporate practices which consider long term gain. We have an excellent team (Come see for yourself… #Biased!) with each one of us passionate about sustainability and committed to the cause. That is why we consider everything from the light bulbs we use to the meat we source and how it is treated once it comes close to its expiration date. Check out the list of practices we are proud of:
- Use 100% renewable energy through Good Energy – a British renewable electricity company named as one of the most ethical companies by The Shoppers Guide 2015 and 2016
- Zero-Waste Policy – Millions of tons of food end up wasted in the UK. This food which could help feed people adds to the amount of CO 2 being created in landfills. As such, nothing goes unused at Cha Lounge: bread ends make up our soup croutons, juice pulp goes into cakes and any food close to its expiration date is offered to staff rather than then being binned.
- Recycle with Forge Recycling – the waste does not end up in landfills but to a waste
- 100% compostable take away packaging (cups, lids, straws) – media has recently covered
how big coffee shops still use cups which contain 5% plastic and of course plastic lids. Since
our opening in 2016 we have never used plastic lids or cups.
- Furnishing and fittings from reclaimed and recycled wood – our funky placed ceiling
shutters, toilet doors and front bar were all hand-made locally and the frames around our
walls are made from pallets found on the street.
- LED lights only
- Training to staff focuses on mindfulness and energy conservation eg. Turning things off, not
wasting water, not throwing food in the bins.
Our Head Chef works hard to ensure our menu provides a variety of mouth-watering dishes. The menu boasts both plant-based and meat food, however we have witnessed even the most serious of meat eaters turn to our vegetarian breakfast! Who can blame them though when we make plant-based food look and taste so good? What’s that… you don’t believe us? Come give it a try!
We are proud to work with our suppliers:
Coffee from North Star who work directly with coffee farmers
Cha or Tea is sourced from an ethical tea partnership from around the world
Eggs from Ian Taylor’s naturally fed and free roaming hens in Harrogate
Bread from Bondgate Bakery in Otley with no additives, preservatives or raising agents used
Milk from Heron Farm in Bramhope where cows are fed natural feeds
Meat from Sykes House Farm in Wetherby who ensure animal welfare and environment
Veggies of the highest quality from our local RK Harris and Sons. However, our tomatoes are sources from Spain as growing these in the UK would drive a towards a much higher carbon footprint due to the amount of energy needed.
Mint we grow ourselves – the star ingredient in our tzatziki and slow pressed juices.
Rose petals and dried spinach come from our dad’s organic farm in India. Both of these
ingredients add flavor to our garam masala!
Avocado comes from South African growers which are participants in the Sustainability
Initiative of South Africa (SIZA).
Wine – all our wines are organic and mostly from Spain!
What future plans do we have?
The sustainability efforts will continue to drive the Café. Ideally, the visionary leaders and staff of Cha Lounge want to grow more of their own ingredients where possible (eg. Veggies). As well, sourcing avocado from closer terrain will be looked at.
Leeds should also expect an increase in community involvement. Cha Lounge would like to provide local produce to neighbors saving them on those supermarket trips. As well, the staff are keen to explore several ideas for community projects, from wine and cheese evenings to working with the Real Junk Food Project on a pay as you feel menu! Charities are also at the forefront the Cha Lounge ethos.