At Sharky’s we live by the motto: “Reuse, Recycle, Go Green.” Aside from aiming to guarantee that, as far as possible, all of our food is local and organic, our ethos encourages responsibility in what we make, and how we make it. And, as many people know, when Sharky believes strongly in something, he will go to pretty interesting lengths to make it happen!
We recently launched a new scheme which sees us take the first step in eradicating disposable bags from Sharky’s. This is but one more small step in a long line of decisions that we have made over the years based on our commitment to Myanmar’s environment - not only do we care passionately about the quality of the country’s food, but we try and do as much as possible to uphold or improve the quality of its cities and its soils.
Here are a few ways in which Sharky's works to respect Myanmar's environment:
Creativity from Farm to Table
Sharky’s is famous for its fine and extensive range of natural artisan products. Dealing with so many different plants, animals, and food outlets, you may think we would be lax with what we discard. Well, think again! Sharky has famously strong distaste for waste: from the farm to the kitchen, our productive methods are tailored to be complementary - what others throw, we use symbiotically to improve our artisan foods! Our kitchen staff will unequivocally let you know that if something enters the rubbish bin, the boss will be questioning why.
On a basic level, all of our organic waste, including our egg shells, are directed straight into our Yangon bio compost, replenishing our new produce and returning nutrients straight back into the cycle. That is pretty standard stuff. However, the following is a taste of the more unusual techniques being employed at Sharky’s...
A recent addition to our product list (with some variations yet to be revealed!) is whey - the choice of gym goers the world over. Whey is a bi-product from the manufacture of our cheeses and milks - and is, of course, a great source of protein. It is also a wonder probiotic: the ingredient behind the famous sweet drinks from Japan and beyond. Less well known, whey is a useful ingredient for pickling: our garlics, chillis, capers etc. are pickled when possible in whey which has gone through a slow lacto-fermentation process. Finally, our traditional ricotta cheese is whey, recooked ('ricotta' meaning recooked!) at 90 degrees, with the addition of a swig of vinegar or lemon.
Scanning the archives for inspiration in using up unpurchased loaves, Sharky found an Amish recipe for a soaker bread which incorporates the crumb (the soft part!) of the prebaked loaf into a mix of new dough. Looking into this further, he found that this technique has been used in Europe for millennia. And after baking a few sample batches, we can see why! It has been noted by Sharky’s master bakers that the addition of old bread in fact lifts the new batch, adding a depth of flavour and improving aeration! We now stock this fine soaker bread on our shelves, amongst our many other varieties of artisan baked goods.
With a reputation as our trademark wonder salad, Sharky’s microgreens are one the best examples of our ethos. Grown purely in coconut coir - powder derived from waste husk - Sharky has developed a unique system whereby large yields of highly nutritious shoots are produced without water or chemical inputs (and - if using Sharky's amazing new grow-box - without light!) from both urban and rural locations - our greens can be grown from restaurant kitchens, household balconies or traditional farms, reducing carbon footprints and allowing them to be served fresh from the coir!
We believe that it’s disrespectful to our animals to waste the fruits of their rearing and try to use from snout to tail. The fats from Sharky’s organic herds are certainly not wasted - the beef dripping is used to triple fry our French fries, - whilst the tallow is routed into the production of our soaps (the luxurious, made in Myanmar, ‘Savon de Bagan’) and candles.
Takeaways Minus the Landfill
Yangon has an obvious issue with post-consumer waste, and Sharky’s doesn’t plan to add to it. Our packaging - including our straws, cutlery and cups - is either 100% compostable or 100% biodegradable. To achieve this, we have partnered with Gracz - a manufacturer who have pioneered the creation of packaging which utilises biproducts from the processing of sugarcane and bamboo. Good-looking, sturdy, fully water and microwave proof, Gracz has encased thousands of Sharky’s takeaways - guaranteeing a safe journey, a great final product, and a trash free outcome for Myanmar. (see: www.gracz.co.th)
Wherever possible, all of our farm operations are 100% organic. For over two decades we have put emphasis on helping Myanmar’s farmers boost their output and incomes through providing advice on best practice and aiding with organic inputs where necessary. A significant amount of the organic waste from our restaurants ends up on our farms in the Yangon region.
Our farming processes - especially those around the arid yet
fertile Bagan region - also place emphasis on using water as efficiently as possible. Many of our farms use micro-irrigation processes such as the drip system whereby exact quantities of water are delivered to the root zone only. Other dry farming techniques ‘stress’ our crops - by depriving plants of topsoil liquid (most of which would evaporate), roots search deeper into the ground for water. The result: healthier crops which are more resistant to disease and require far less water to produce.
From Bottle to Bank
Sharky’s has long promoted the reuse and recycling of its glass bottles. From our famous Ngapali beach salts, to our jams, chutneys, herbs, dips, and sauces - each bottle purchased from our outlets can be returned for a refund of 200MMK. All of our glasses are then sterilised, and given new caps before being stickered and refilled with Sharky’s produce.
No Such Thing as a Free Bag
Finally, our latest policy. We believe that Myanmar is in a unique position in all number of ways. One of these is the potential the country has to learn from the consumer mistakes of more developed economies. The over-use of disposable plastics has proven to be one of the gravest errors of the past fifty years - and Sharky’s has never wished to be part of that particular problem.
We were the first business in Yangon to use the (completely glam and now) ubiquitous ‘newspaper’ bags - made almost entirely of paper. However, although seen reused across town for years, these bags still find their way into the trash - or into the environment of Yangon - sooner rather than later.
Our new response: disincentivizing the use of disposable bags by charging a token fee for our newspaper bags, whilst promoting a brand new range of reusable artisanal cotton tote bags, made by villagers in the Irrawaddy delta region... Sharky's got a brand new bag!
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We commit to constantly improving the impact of our operations - be that in Yangon, Bagan, or all other areas of production. To achieve this, we are eager to listen to any suggestions - from customers, potential partners, and anyone else interested in building a more sustainable future for Myanmar - so get in touch! - firstname.lastname@example.org