Plastic Free MKE encourages businesses to be lake friendly

MILWAUKEE – Plastic Free MKE encourages businesses to become “Lake Friendly” by making decisions that benefit the long-term health of Lake Michigan.

Transfer Pizzeria in Milwaukee is one company that makes that commitment. Owner Russell Rossetto said they have several ways to dispose of waste.

“We have a landfill, a recycling stream, and organic waste that turns into compost,” Rossetto said.

Rossetto said he also avoids using plastics as much as possible. Instead, the pizzeria offers customers several options, including an organic bag.

“You walk into a store and every little thing you buy, they put it in a plastic bag. They are everywhere. They are ubiquitous,” Rossetto said. “It’s going to be in the environment, whether it’s blown into the lake or it goes to a landfill. It will remain in the environment forever, while these will decompose.

Rossetto said that since Transfer Pizzeria opened in 2008, they have made environmentally friendly decisions.

That’s why it was recently recognized by Plastic Free MKE as one of 24 Lake Friendly Companies in the Milwaukee area.

(Spectrum News 1/Philip Boudreaux)

“We want to be Certified Friends of Lake Michigan. We’re right next door in the harbor area and we care about that a lot, and it’s just something we agreed on and felt good to be part of,” Rossetto said.

Leah Holloway of Plastic Free MKE explained that a restaurant is designated Lake Friendly when it does not offer Styrofoam or plastic bags for takeout orders. It must also provide compostable and recycle alternatives.

“There are a lot of companies that are already doing very good work. We want to uplift them, give them some support, help them in any way we can,” Holloway said.

Holloway said this campaign aims to raise awareness of the damage caused by plastic pollution in the lake. She pointed out that the majority of litter from Milwaukee-area waterways ends up in Lake Michigan.

“Once in the lake, it absorbs toxins from the water,” Holloway said. “Plastic is made of toxic materials and it all breaks down with wind and waves, the action of the sun into microplastics and microfibers, and it comes back into our drinking water system. Milwaukee Water Works filters out as much of this plastic as possible, but it does get into our water.

Rossetto said he’s proud that Transfer Pizzeria is a lake-friendly company.

“We think we want to lead by example as a community institution as a place that’s going to be here for a long time and conduct our business in a way that will help everyone and help ourselves,” said Rossetto.

From the start, it’s not just been about serving great pizza, Rossetto said, but also about caring for the environment.

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