11 Sustainability Tips for Eco-Friendly Restaurants in 2020
April 10, 2020
Being aware of the impact of our actions on the earth has become a priority for many people around the globe, including businesses of all kinds. Restaurants, in particular, are taking notice and looking for ways to minimize the impact their daily practices are having on the environment.
An eco-friendly restaurant is a restaurant that uses sustainable products and systems with respect to animal welfare and environmental sustainability. The restaurant industry hasn’t always been kind to the planet – between food waste, excessive plastic use, and non-compostable products, the restaurant business is one of the worst offenders when it comes to keeping our planet healthy.
And consumers have taken notice. Now, more than ever, consumers want to invest their time – and money – in restaurants that are doing right by the environment.
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1. Use sustainable utensils, cups, and plates
One of the easiest ways to help make your restaurant more environmentally friendly is to use eco-friendly paper straws and containers.
To-go food is only becoming more popular. As such, it’s important to offer compostable options that won’t wind up in a dump for years to come. Also, if you offer samples to gain more customers, consider using wooden tasting spoons and/or forks. Paper and wood are biodegradable, whereas plastic spoons and cups only add to the problem of planetary pollution.
2. Install eco-friendly lighting
Eco-friendly lighting is being used in an estimated eight out of 10 restaurants. This type of restaurant lighting makes heavy use of natural light, but LED bulbs are another environmentally-safe option. Try installing skylights to let in more natural light and invest in LEDs instead of incandescent bulbs. LEDs last longer, contain no mercury vapor, and use 90% less energy than standard bulbs.
3. Create a compost station in the kitchen
Food waste that makes its way to landfills contributes to the growing number of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Composting your food is one of the best ways to reduce waste and promote eco-friendly farming within your community.
Let staff add all the food waste from the night into the compost station. At the end of each day, take the waste to the outdoor compost bin. In some cases, communities even offer compost pick-up points to make sustainable living easier than ever.
4. Get involved in the compostable straw movement
Straws are among the most popular disposable plastic items. While these are important for folks with motor issues and other disabilities, offering straw alternatives in restaurants has become the newest craze.
Using compostable straws will be a huge help in cutting down on plastic pollution. If you want to help reduce waste at the start, your restaurant might look into using metal straws or selling silicone straws to help the environment.
5. Reduce food waste by turning unused foods into ingredients
If you find that you have mushrooms or tomatoes on hand that might not be usable on their own, but are still fresh enough to use cooked, then add them to a sauce rather than throwing them away. If ingredients keep going bad on the shelf, it’s important to make note of this and change up your shipping routine to prevent this from happening in the future.
6. Donate excess food to charities
Excess food inventory can be donated to food pantries, local churches, and other community organizations that can put them to good use.
In many cities, food charities have even started using apps to connect pantries with restaurants that have too much on their plate (literally). Apps like Meal Connect are a great start, but this trend is growing in larger cities.
7. Use paper products instead of plastic
Restaurants can opt-out of plastic use altogether. While it might seem impossible, there are eco-friendly paper straws, paper to-go cups, paper dessert cups, and more. A growing number of restaurants have also started using recycled paper products in restrooms.
8. Reduce, reuse, and recycle
The three R’s are reduce, reuse, and recycle. This is the best path to creating an eco-friendly restaurant. Reduce every product and process that is not eco-friendly to prevent waste from the start. Restaurants should also reuse everything they can.
For example, plastic shipping containers can make for great storage tubs. Restaurants should also recycle every possible thing that they can. You can even sign the last straw pledge which promises to put an end to plastic straws.
9. Join the Green Restaurant Association
If you join the Green Restaurant Association, this savvy business move will let customers know you care about the planet. The website offers an education portal which can help you learn how to substitute plastics for cardboard and paper, use safer products, and implement greener practices.
10. Use eco-friendly cleaning products
Typical cleaning products have toxic properties that can pollute our waterways. You can green your cleaning methods by using eco-safe cleaners. You can also use green pesticides to deter pests from making their way into your restaurant. If the cleaning product is green-product certified, you can trust it.
11. Offer more vegetarian options on the menu
Choosing to offer more vegetarian fare on the menu helps the environment in a number of ways. For example, growing vegetables requires less green space, requires less water, and is cheaper to transport than meats.
"Given the current environment, this new service is helping us keep the small farms we work with operating, our team employed and continue bringing our community healthy food option.”
1. Give away flower seeds
Offer your customers free flower seed packets with each meal. One upscale restaurant in Brooklyn is doing it, and customers love it. Not only is this a great way to welcome spring but it is also a clever spring marketing strategy.
2. Use straws only when needed
Even though switching to eco-friendly paper straws is a great first step, restaurants can also limit their straw use from the start. Post a sign informing customers that eco-friendly paper straws are available by request only. This will cut down on waste and prove that you’re dedicated to making a change.
3. Recycle coffee grounds
Did you know that coffee grounds are non acidic, making them a great nutrient to improve the soil health in gardens. You can give away your restaurant’s used coffee grounds for customers to use as gardening compost.
4. Start a grassroots movement
Consider creating a website with a blog that offers customers tips on recycling food, composting, and minimizing their carbon footprint. Connecting with the community is always a great way to ingrain yourself as a vehicle for change.
A green restaurant will lead to a greener planet. Using eco-friendly paper straws, adding a composting station, and utilizing recycled paper products are just a few ideas to help you go green.
Implementing these practices will not only help the planet, but it will also draw eco-minded customers to dine with you. If you’re feeling inspired to go green, rely on these restaurant trends to help get you there.
Tim has worked for Frozen Dessert Supplies for years. Proud to be involved in eco-friendly practices, it’s his hope that all restaurants can do right by their customers — and the planet.
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