Going Green in the Restaurant Business

By bsozak | September 9, 2014

No, this article is not about vegetables. Being eco-friendly sounds like a big hurdle for restaurant owners, especially when it’s about offering the best services to spoil customers. There are plenty of ways you can reduce your restaurant’s carbon footprint if you follow the following tips. And remember—it’s good for the business too!

1. Recycle and reduce waste. Restaurants generate a lot of waste; just think of the straws, takeout boxes and bags, napkins, and other disposable materials that diners use in a day. Use compostable cups, lids, plates, and silverware. You can also reuse paper by doubling its purpose as scratch paper or notepads for taking orders. The restaurant Mixed in South Dakota saves over $10,000 annually from its sustainability efforts.

2. Upgrade kitchen equipment. Eighty percent of energy used by restaurants is unnecessary due to inefficient practices or outdated equipment, based on a study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The initial cost of energy-efficient lighting and refrigeration equipment may be expensive but it is a worthwhile investment when you can save thousands of money on overhead costs.

3. Buy ingredients locally. Think of the long travel and the fuel you can save if you source local ingredients. Plan a seasonal menu so you can always adapt to available produce. You’ll also be helping out local farmers and the local economy this way.

4. Serve organic dishes. Treat your customers right by serving them food that has not been sprayed by pesticides or chemical fertilizers. According to the survey by the National Restaurant Association in 2011, 69 percent of consumers prefer restaurants that serve food “grown or raised in an organic or environmentally-friendly way”.

5. Use environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies. Besides being safe on the health, chemical-based cleaners damage the water and wildlife when you flush them out of the drains.

6. Save water. Install flow restrictors on your faucets in the kitchen and in the restrooms to control the amount of water that comes out. Faucets with auto-sensors are also efficient ways of managing water use.

7. Try paperless advertising. Attract more customers using Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, which are more effective ways of advertising and reaching out to more people. Orchard Inn (Saluda, NC) and Ledges Hotel (Hawley, PA) feature their brunch and dinner menus on their website. Word of mouth is instrumental in growing a business so get in the social-media bandwagon. No need for posters and flyers, so you can save more too!

8. Find ways to be more eco-friendly. The Green Restaurant Association website offers product recommendations to help restaurants make gradual changes in becoming environmentally-friendly. They offer free consultations in terms of energy, chemicals, and packaging, so you can rely on the association’s expertise to help you out on these.

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