If you haven’t sussed it out by now, here at Billy Tannery, we are invested in our planet and are passionate about creating products using materials that would have otherwise been thrown away and with processes that are part of a much larger chain of sustainability.

This means that we also love talking to like-minded folk who share our zero-waste mentality. That's why we thought it would be great to create an interview series where we speak to some great chefs who have adopted environmentally friendly approaches, not only with their delicious food but with their entire business ethos.

We kick-start this series with Doug McMaster who we were first introduced to back in March 2019 and subsequently collaborated with on leather chef’s aprons for him and his staff.  Doug was looking for aprons that wouldn’t need to go in the washing machine, thus saving energy and water and our robust, yet comfortable goat leather aprons fit the bill.

Doug is a chef, author of The Zero Waste Blueprint and the owner of SILO London, the world’s first zero waste restaurant. Opened in 2014, SILO London famously doesn't have any bins, has its own flour mill, and has all its produce delivered in reusable containers.

We chatted to Doug about his zero-waste approach and how he has embedded this into every aspect of SILO.

Zero waste doesn’t stop at food

Zero waste is the founding formula for SILO. “Sustainability is the balance we have on Earth and so, the resources we acquire must be remunerated. These resources are all precious, from the food to the packaging to the cooking utensils and the uniform. Nature doesn't have favourites; it just wants balance.”

Over on his website, Doug explains “We churn our own butter, make our own oat milk, roll our own oats and support a nose to tail ideology, meaning that if an animal dies for food we will maximise the whole beast, respectfully. The on-site brewery creates natural fermented drinks from live cultures.”

Incorporating zero waste and sustainability into the interiors

At SILO, the furniture and fittings are innovative, functional, and refined whilst still retaining Doug’s sustainable values. The furniture is made from materials that would have otherwise been wasted, the tables are constructed from reconstituted food packaging and the lampshades are made from mycelium. Even the dinnerware follows suit: the plates are formed from plastic bags and the crockery is made from crushed wine bottles.

“SILO has a personality and it’s my job to express that with the right tone and feel. When sustainability looks and feels good, that’s when we will see people convert to being sustainable.”

Living a more zero-waste lifestyle in the kitchen at home

Wanting to be more zero waste if one thing. Doing it is another. We asked Doug his advice on how to adopt a more zero waste lifestyle at home; “Awareness. From awareness comes motivation, and then comes change.”

If you want further insight from Doug, his book, The Zero Waste Blueprint is a great place to start. Stating that the book is about perspective, Doug has written its contents to help readers see what waste is and how it came to be. In doing this, he believes it gives us the understanding to design waste out of our world. Alongside this information and the entwined zero-waste philosophy, the book also offers practical kitchen tips and a vision for clean farming and future closed-looped systems.

What’s next in store? 

In Doug’s words, “Spreading awareness to all those that give a damn!” predominantly through The Zero Waste Cooking School, Doug’s YouTube channel which is packed full of content including easy home recipes, advice and practical tips for adopting a zero-waste approach, and collaborations with other experts. 

In each and every video, Doug’s passion for off-grid ingredients and a future for food that is zero-waste is palpable and his enthusiasm is arguably contagious. You may also spot a one-off deer leather version of our SILO aprons in the videos.

We are looking forward to following his journey and if like us, you want to keep an eye on what Doug's going to be up to next, his website will tell you all you need to know and his Instagram is also worth a follow.

If you are interested in finding out more about how we can work with restaurants to add special yet sustainable touches which will help elevate their interiors and solidify their branding, take a look at our bespoke leather menu covers, bill presenters, aprons and coasters. Got something custom in mind? Then get in touch – we’d love to hear your ideas and see how we can work together!

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