“There used to be the idea that ‘going green’ was going to be cost-prohibitive, but there are many things restaurants can do that don’t cost anything and can result in dollars saved,” says Janine Windsor of LEAF. “And for those that do invest in bigger changes, the ROI is well worth it.”Perhaps the greatest barrier to going green is the notion that eco-friendly initiatives come with a big price tag.
Tried and true ways to implement sustainable changes in your restaurant today
- When renovating or making changes, reclaim and reuse existing materials in the space.
- Build and maintain comprehensive composting and recycling programs.
- Use compostable to-go containers, napkins and other paper products.
- Serve sustainable seafood (like the Ocean Wise list) and meats, as well as sustainably sourced ingredients in general.
- Use efficient and sustainable energy systems like Bullfrog Power—a green-energy retailer that puts 100-per-cent green electricity onto the grid to match the power consumption of its customers.
- Think about sustainability right down to your staff uniforms as opportunities to be more eco-friendly. For example, Levi’s waterless-technology jeans, created with a process that saves tens of thousands of gallons of water every year.
- Make it your mission to build sustainability into your businesses a bit at a time rather than looking at sustainability practices as one big insurmountable mountain in front of your restaurant.
- Build a local supply chain for your operation. Sourcing local food, energy and waste reduction service providers.
- Be creative or listen to suppliers who are being creative for you! For example, collaborating with packaging partners to launch a greener alternative to traditional food packaging. Like Pita Pit’s proprietary thinbarrier eco—packaging that uses a grease-resistant, vegetable-based coating that eliminates the need for wax. The product is recyclable and compostable and decreases crude-oil consumption in wrap production by 60 per cent.
- Look for cleaning chemicals that are not harmful or toxic, while being mindful of creating a safe foodservice environment.
- With new store builds, use green-construction elements wherever possible, including recycled concrete floors, repurposed equipment and energy-efficient light bulbs.
- Interview your suppliers on sustainability: Is their product or service sourced/produced/shipped/implemented with sustainability in mind?
- Some questions you may wish to ask where appropriate:
- Is there an opportunity to reduce the amount of cardboard the items are shipped in?
- Does the producer have an animal welfare program in place?
- What does the supplier’s supply chain look like?
- Remember that in serving the public you are an influencer and an example. National chains can influence change on a wide scale, smaller foodservice operations also need to do their part to make a difference.
- Think about food waste and upcycling. How are you disposing of used fryer oils etc.? These inevitable waste practices are mitigable and can be made much more ecologically sound.
- Get LEAF certified! And check out the full guide LEAF sustainability best practices HERE
(Source: “The Green Report: How Restaurants are Changing Their Approach to Sustainability” published in Foodservice and Hospitality. Read the full article HERE.)