Local vendors prefer sugar, corn to plastic
North Tahoe brothers Chris and Erik Taylor are trying to help save the world ” or at least Tahoe-Truckee ” from plastics.
Young entrepreneurs Chris, 22, and Erik, 27, in April started Nalca Networks ” a business selling biodegradable and compostable products made of sugar cane and corn plastic to local restaurants.
“The idea was my brother’s … to do something good for the environment,” said Chris Taylor.
Originally from Vermont, the Tahoma-based Taylor brothers were inspired to not only work for themselves but to become leaders in the future of bio-plastics.
So far, Nalca Networks has established accounts with a dozen local eateries, including CB’s Pizza, Uncommon Kitchen, New Moon Natural Foods, Syd’s Bagelry, Sawtooth Ridge Cafe and Austin’s in Incline Village.
They’re hoping to grow their company as interest in environmentally conscious products continues to increase.
“As we expand we want to get into selling to the resorts, school, colleges, municipalities like the PUDs. There are a lot of options as far as different events, caterers,” Chris Taylor said.
He said restaurants have no other local resource like Nalca Networks, though some do purchase “green” products through the Internet.
Uncommon Kitchen ” located in the back of the New Moon store in Tahoe City ” has been using biodegradable products for some time now, but recently took up ordering through Nalca Networks.
“It’s local, so I prefer to be helping someone here rather than out of Boulder or the Bay Area,” said Dawn Baehr, who runs the to-go restaurant with her husband. “And [Nalca Networks] orders our items so they have them in stock. Then I call them and they bring it over. They’ve set themselves up as a distributor and they are passing that savings on to me.”
Alpenglow, a sports store in Tahoe City, has been using “Bio-Bags” for over a year now. They used to order the product online but recently switched to Nalca Networks.
Plus, buying locally is less expensive than ordering over the Internet and paying for shipping and handling costs, Baehr said.
“A lot of businesses want to get all green stuff, but they don’t know how or where to do it,” said Chris Taylor. “Most businesses just want it to be easy.”
Education is one of the biggest hurdles in starting a new distribution company, the brothers said. It’s first necessary for vendors to understand the negative impacts of plastic before being sold on bio-plastics.
“Plastic never goes away on this planet. The more plastics made, the more that are out there in the world,” Baehr explained.
Bio-plastics, on the other hand, quickly decompose.
“It doesn’t need to be recycled. It can go right into your trash. And up here that’s a big bonus. It gets composted and biodegrades,” said Baehr. “This way you’re supporting a renewable resource instead of creating more waste.”
New Moon Natural Foods in Tahoe City and Truckee recently converted to biodegradable bags and containers, but must first finish the products they already have in stock.
“We thought it would fit our clientele base better,” said Tony Basile, manager of the Tahoe City store. “And secondly, we’re very much an environmentally conscious business and want to stay in line with that.”
There is an increased cost associated with using the bio-plastics, Basile said, but the company is willing to pay a little more for something that is both better for the planet and is in the best interest of customers.
Many businesses in the area agree that products are headed in a biodegradable direction, and that the Tahoe-Truckee region seems open to the idea.
Enter Nalca Networks.
The ultimate goal, Erik Taylor, said, is to raise awareness of the toxic effect of products that consumers use in everyday life like styrofoams and plastics, and to educate people about the new, earth-friendly options in biodegradable products and composting.
“You gotta call people to action,” Chris Taylor said.