Our Environmental Impact

Earlier this month, we served at the Boston GreenFest, a three-day event with a goal of educating and empowering people to create a more sustainable, healthier world. We were slinging our signature seitan there, alongside the many other awesome vendors in the Food Truck Emporium.

You may be familiar with Bartleby’s three-part mission: to empower people to do good for themselves, the animals, and the planet―one meal at a time. While at GreenFest, we had some time to reflect upon that planet piece of our mission and make estimates on our actual impact on the environment since we began operation in April. And by “we,” I mean Evan Kodra, our Co-Founder, resident smartypants, data expert, and climate change scholar.

Using the references noted below, we can present the following calculations:

  • Water [1]. Producing a chicken for consumption uses more than 400 gallons of water on average. Producing the equivalent volume of Bartleby’s seitan uses, on average, slightly less than 300 gallons of water. As of GreenFest, we had sold a volume of seitan equal to more than 4,000 actual chickens, thus saving over 500,000 gallons of water.
  • Land [2]. It requires about 8-9 square meters of land to produce an actual chicken. Bartleby’s purely plant-based seitan is made of vital wheat gluten and white flour (plus our secret spices) and requires only around 3-4 square meters of land to produce an amount equivalent to one chicken. We have used, and will continue to use, about 58% less land than if we were selling chicken products.
  • Carbon Footprint [3][4]. More than 2 pounds of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere when producing one chicken. Meanwhile, less than 0.25 pounds of carbon dioxide are released in producing an equivalent amount of Bartleby’s seitan. Having sold an amount of seitan (so far) equal to over 4,000 actual chickens, we have prevented the emission of over 7,600 pounds of CO2.

TLDR: In four months of operation, Bartleby’s Seitan Stand saved more than 500,000 gallons of water, saved about 7,600 pounds of CO2, and used approximately 58% less land as compared to a food truck or restaurant selling the equivalent volume of chicken. [Ed: We ran these numbers at the end of July, so suffice it to say we’ve saved more chickens and more land since then.]

There’s another part of our business that impacts the environment, and that’s the materials we’ve chosen for packaging. Everything we use is 100% biodegradable, recyclable, or compostable (depending on the item). While we can't control where our sandwich boxes and fry boats land after they leave the truck. we feel good that we're sending planet-friendly packaging out into the streets, rather than versions made with plastics or styrofoam.
bartlebys sandwich and fries in box on grass

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/10/how-much-water-food-production-waste
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edible_protein_per_unit_area_of_land
[3] https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/content/archive/agriculture-today-stories/ag-today-archives/september-2011/carbon-footprint-for-one-tonne-of-wheat
[4] ​http://www.greeneatz.com/foods-carbon-footprint.html