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Traditional restaurants are not the earth’s best friends. Your typical café or eatery uses vast amounts of energy and water and produces masses of garbage and food waste and cannot earn the label of “eco-friendly” without some good planning and conscious work.
However, with the rise of more eco-conscious generations, diners are becoming increasingly selective about where and what they eat. If you’re a restaurant owner, it’s worth thinking twice about the way you’re running your business. Since we reckon you already are keen to make a change if you’re reading this article, we’ve gathered the best tips to help you change the way you run your restaurant for the better.
Serve organic produce
For restaurant owners, environmental awareness starts with the ingredients themselves. An obvious first option is buy organic products, but you should also think about where you’re sourcing your organics from.
Visitors to your restaurant will invariably be more enthusiastic about locally-produced organics than those transported from afar via emission-producing vehicles. This means building trust and positive working relationships with the farmers and producers close to you to sort out seasonal contracts.
Since consumer demand for organic and locally-produced food is only increasing, you will likely earn back the extra money that you spend on organically-fed or organically-grown ingredients.
Revise the menu
The vegetarian and vegan movements are gaining real force with diners of all shapes and sizes – so even if you’re intent on keeping your meat and dairy options on the menu, make sure you at least have a section of your menu dedicated to plant-based options. Crafting healthy, delicious vegetable-based dishes is the easiest way to ensure you’re following through with your goal to support sustainable, local produce.
Photo from Pxhere
Make or produce as much as you can in-house
Even better than buying local is growing your own fruit and veg. Not only will you be able to claim your own ingredients for the restaurant, but establishments with gardens are a massive pull for diners, especially if you work hard to make the green spaces a feature for diners to enjoy.
If you’re more pressed for space, but a rooftop garden is a possibility, take that opportunity up. Plus, composting food waste on-site is made much easier with the help of a garden.
Reduce the packaging
Particularly for coffee joints and takeaway-heavy restaurants, packaging is the biggest environmental menace. Seek a solution by switching from materials like Styrofoam and plastic – which are resistant to degradation – and instead seek out recycled paper packaging. More and more suppliers are embracing environmentally friendly packaging, and your customers will be thankful to see the recycle logo on the bottom of the cup or box.
There are other ways to save paper, too: digitise reservations and customer information, get rid of paper billing, and pay your own bills for the restaurant online.
Buy Environmentally friendly furniture
Environmentally friendly extends all the way to the tables and chairs which furnish your floor space. Demonstrate your environmental consciousness by choosing furniture with a Forest Stewardship Council certification or the equivalent so your diners can know they’re not contributing to uncontrolled deforestation by eating under your roof.
In kitchens and bathrooms, install motion-sensor taps or flow restrictors which will ensure that staff and customers can only use a set amount of water. When you buy dishwashers, look for the best Energy-Star rated options that you can afford, and buy dual-flush toilets. These choices will require some initial investment but will definitely save you money in the long run!
Flaunt your eco-friendliness
And lastly – show off your eco-friendly efforts! The most effective way to spread the bug is to advertise and talk about it. You could even go all-out to “greenify” your restaurant by hosting in-house events themed on Earth Day or by offering discounts to café customers who bring their own reusable mugs.
Cloe Matheson is a freelance writer from New Zealand who believes that one of her most important responsibilities is caring for the environment.
Her two favourite hobbies are inventing healthy meal recipes and tending to her beloved garden. You can read more of Cloe’s inspiring articles on Tumblr.