Lemonjello’s Leads by Example with Zero Waste Sustainability Policy

Lemonjello's Coffee MugIt is a common occurrence now: coffee shop patrons holding their trash in hand, searching in vain for a garbage can. However, there are no trash cans for patrons. Lemonjello’s pursues a zero waste policy. To do so, they’ve removed public trash cans and asked customers to place any trash in the dish bin. Employees then sort recycling and compost materials.

This popular hangout for Hope College students is located in downtown Holland, Michigan. It also happens to be one of my favorite haunts. Lemonjello’s not only practices what they preach, they educate their customers at the same time. Signs throughout the cafe remind visitors why they choose sustainable, fair trade and equal exchange practices.


The only place you will find a trash can is in the rest rooms. There, you will find two. One is clearly labeled, “paper towels” with a note in parenthesis “(We Compost Them)” and another labeled, “All Other Trash”. With an otherwise controlled absence of public trash cans in the cafe, Lemonjello’s may be the most sustainable eatery in Southwest Michigan.

Equal Exchange

The positive impact on the community does not stop with sustainability. Lemonjello’s also uses the Equal Exchange roaster. From Lemonjello’s website:

Equal Exchange is a 100% worker-owned co-op itself and only deals with small farmer co-ops that are democratically run and that use Equal Exchange’s support and programs to build back into their communities.

Visit equalexchange.coop to learn more.

Fair Trade

Equal Exchange and Lemonjellos both practice Fair Trade:

Fair Trade is a way of doing business that ultimately aims to keep small farmers an active part of the world marketplace, and aims to empower consumers to make purchases that support their values.

This local coffee shop leads by example. By practicing what they believe in, sharing the information and educating their consumers, Lemonjellos is a cafe dedicated to serving their community more than a great cup of coffee. The next time you’re in Holland, Michigan, I encourage you to check them out. You will walk away inspired by more than the caffeine.

Question: What local business do you know that leads by example?


Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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