One of the biggest trends in the culinary industry over the last decade has been making eating establishments more eco-friendly. However, many owners are not aware of the many ways they can make their eatery greener. Restaurants can play a major role in supporting environmental sustainability. The following are some of the basic ways a restauranteur can make his restaurant more eco-friendly.
Start with the Structure
If you are looking to make the building itself more eco-friendly, there are many ways to save on energy use. To do this, you can start by thinking about the structure of the building. Are there old drafty windows that let heated air escape in winter and cooled air escape in summer? Are there walls that have asbestos?
Speaking to a structural engineer or energy use consultant can help you to identify the aspects of the building that need improvement. To make sure that you are able to communicate your concerns, be informed about the different eco-friendly terms that industry experts use. Check out resources like this Nisbet’s article for a glossary of eco-friendly terminology.
Factor in the Food
Since restaurants are all about food, it makes sense that being green would involve the food you use. One of the most effective ways to create environmentally friendly dishes is to shop locally.
Most restaurants rely on major supply companies for many of their ingredients, including produce, meats, and dry goods. With major supply companies, these items tend to be transported long distances, sometimes from thousands of miles away.
A greener option would be to buy and use produce and meats that are local. This cuts down on all the fossil fuels needed to transport it while helping the local farmers and economy.
Watch Out for Water Usage and Waste
Water usage can be reduced by installing low flow faucets on the sinks employees and customers use. You should also not let the cooks run water continuously over frozen meats to thaw them when they could have pulled them out to thaw the previous day. You should also consider only filling glasses with water if the customer asks for water.
The primary cause of waste is uneaten food that is left on plates. If this is a common occurrence at your restaurant, you may want to reduce the portion sizes. Other options are to donate foods that haven’t been served to homeless shelters and to use waste products like bones, trimmings and vegetable skins to make stocks instead of buying premade stocks.
Of course, there will always be refuse and other items that need to be disposed of. Most trash collection companies offer recycling, but there is more you can do. You can compost any leftover organic material and use it to grow fresh herbs that you can use in the kitchen.
Energy and Lighting
Another way to promote sustainability is by thinking about fossil fuel and energy use as well as lighting. There are many ways to do this:
- Make sure that all electrical appliances are off and the gas-fueled ones are turned all the way down when you close for the night.
- Check that all the lights are off at the end of the night. You can also lower your energy usage by putting in lights that only turn on when they sense motion and using energy efficient bulbs.
- Inspect the seals on all refrigeration units and freezers. These seals can dry out over time and create leaks. This costs more money as more electricity is needed to keep them cool.
Paper Products and Seating
There are several companies that use recycled materials to create tables and chairs, and it has become fashionable to use repurposed lumber for the floorings, bars and on the walls and ceilings for decoration. These are items you can consider for your establishment.
Another way to be greener is to replace paper tablecloths and napkins with washable fabric ones. You should also replace Styrofoam and plastic containers with ones made from recycled or biodegradable materials.
Most cleaning products restaurants use now have an environmentally friendly version. That reduces the dangerous chemicals in the water, which can contaminate groundwater and poison fish and other wildlife.
There are so many ways a restaurant can incorporate eco-friendly products and practices. They’re all better for the environment and will help the owner’s bottom line while also meeting customers’ desires. If all restaurants began to use these practices and products, it would impact the environment greatly and make Mother Nature happy.