Written by Lucinda Staniland. Lucinda is a freelance writer and the editor of The Yoga Lunchbox.
Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant is a true stalwart of the Wellington dining and social scene. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed countless coffees at its cosy tables, attended community gatherings and birthday parties in their function rooms, celebrated special events with drinks in the courtyard, and danced the night away to local bands.
But there’s much more to the Cross than good coffee, tasty food and a reliably awesome atmosphere. Behind the scenes, Southern Cross is actually an undercover Conscious Consumers superstar.
Yup, that’s right, over the years Southern Cross has been awarded a truly impressive number of the Conscious Consumers operational and product badges—BYO, Composting, Eco-packaging, Recycling, Supporting communities, Organic, NZ made, Carbon Neutral, Free Range, Vegetarian/Vegan and Fair Trade—the Cross is seriously onto it when it comes to their operational and product standards.
Attaining and maintaining such high standards takes work, what’s the motivation behind it all?
Tim Clarke, Strategy & Development Coordinator at Southern Cross says that it all comes down to the values that drive the business—when you’re values-driven, constantly upping your standards is an obvious and straightforward decision to make.
“We’re quite proud of our accreditation,” says Tim, “It does take time to accumulate all the necessary information to apply for each badge, but our feeling during the reaccreditation process was simple: if it’s achievable, we should try and become accredited for it, which is what we did.”
And they’re not stopping there. Southern Cross has just made another move towards better business by switching to Free Farmed pork.
Tim says, “Animal rights have always been something that the owners have felt strongly about, and after some research last year it became clear that we could be using a supplier that better aligns with our values when it came to pork.”
This process began when Southern Cross went through a re-accreditation process with Conscious Consumers and were surprised to discover that their free-range pork supplier, who was Pig Care accredited, couldn’t be approved by Conscious Consumers for the Free-Range badge. This kick-started a deep-dive into the intricacies of the pork industry.
What they discovered was that, “There is no legal definition of what constitutes “Free-Range” in the pork industry. There are only guidelines & best practices available to farmers & suppliers to follow.”
With assistance from Conscious Consumers, Southern Cross further investigated the difference between free-range and free farmed pork and searched for an independently audited supplier that they could trust.
They felt that Freedom Farms was the best option because, “As best as we could tell Freedom Farm's ‘Five Freedoms’ are well monitored and most importantly, independently audited by AsureQuality,” says Tim, “so we’re not just taking the farmer or suppliers word for it, it’s actually been independently verified to a high standard.”
Making changes like this entails effort and compromise.
The team at Southern Cross put a lot of time into untangling the complexities of the pork industry, looking for a trustworthy supplier, and training staff to be able to communicate the change to customers. Southern Cross also had to change the cut of bacon they had been using, not a big deal, says Tim, but it still involved a shift from the norm.
There were some unexpected bonuses though: “Surprisingly, the cost of the Freedom Farms pork was actually less than our previous supplier,” says Tim, “that’s always a bonus when making changes, especially when they’re the moral choices, they tend to go in the other direction and be more expensive.”
Southern Cross are a great example of a thriving, values-driven business—exactly the kind of business that the Good Spend Counter encourages and supports.
They do what they do well—make great coffee, run gigs, serve yummy food—and they are constantly striving to do it in a way that respects people, animals, and the planet.
When you register your values and your payment cards with Conscious Consumers’ Good Spend Counter, you let businesses like Southern Cross know that you support their good work and the effort that it takes to make positive change.