Community, sustainability, efficiency. Local business owner Laura Bradley, who founded King’s Lock Craft Distillery with her husband Rob Heuvel in 2015, runs her business like she lives her life: mindful of the impact her decisions have on our planet.
Ottawa Green Business talked to Laura on the phone to learn more about the challenges and opportunities of running a business with high sustainability standards.
King’s Lock Craft is a distillery an hour drive south of Ottawa that makes artisanal vodka, gin, rye, rum, and moonshine. In operation for 5 years, it was the first certified organic distillery in Ontario and has won a slew of awards for its spirits. What really sets King’s Lock Craft apart, however, is its commitment to a small footprint.
Every process has been carefully thought out and designed to have the least environmental impact, which really comes down to thinking about the energy to make things work and the waste that is produced in production.
“Sustainability has always been important to us” explains Laura, “in terms of how we interact with nature, the environment and our surroundings. Asking ourselves questions like: what are we giving back to the earth? What are we leaving for our children or our grandchildren?”.
All their grains are sourced locally – organic corn to make the vodka and gin, and rye for the whisky. The choice to work with local farmers goes beyond convenience, it’s about working with the community, and about supporting organic practices to safeguard the soil and the natural environment.
Running King’s Lock Craft is not their full time job – by day Laura is an engineer and Rob is a mechanical technologist. Their scientific mindset has, says Laura, helped them in their quest for sustainability. “At the heart of it, it’s about how we can be more resourceful when it comes to energy and waste and the long term impact our activities have. So, before we opened the business, we started thinking about all the things that we would be doing and what impacts each process would have. We’re mindful of the waste we make, so we’ve chosen to go with returnable glass bottles and recyclable labels”.
But there is more. Laura and Rob have also invested in energy saving measures. Like making sure there were lots of windows, installing LED lighting and sensors to ensure lights are only used when and where needed. They also subscribe to Bullfrog Power.
“Taking the time to understand the processes your business relies on and figuring out the best solutions is really important. Do the processes align with your values? If they don’t, how can you fix it? For example, one of the out products of distilling is hot water, so we collect that hot water and use it for cleaning or and mashing”.
Does all this sustainability come at a cost? The short answer is yes. But what it boils down to is values. If you care about something you try to make good decisions and weigh them against the cost – what is the best decision you make within your budget?
“The real challenge however is awareness”, concludes Laura. That to make products you are truly proud of takes time, a web of human relationships, and passion. And that these things aren’t always as convenient (or cheap) as their mass-produced cousins. “I’m 55, I’ve seen a few things, I know what a horrible impact we can have on our surroundings. And how incredibly flippant we are to it. I don’t stay up at night, but I do worry about what the long-term impact for future generations is”.
Learn more about King’s Lock Craft Distillery: www.klcraftdistillery.ca