11 Easy Ways to Make Your Restaurant More Environmentally Friendly
The trend for businesses to become more socially and environmentally responsible isn’t just for large corporations. Instead, it begins with the local establishments that have an impact on their neighbours. As a result, more restaurant owners are looking for ways to become more environmentally friendly as a commitment to their customers and community. If you are looking for simple changes you can make, here are 11 easy ways to make your restaurant more environmentally friendly.
1. Think local and seasonal for your menu
This is not only environmentally friendly but also very on-trend. Top chefs take great pride in featuring locally sourced, seasonal ingredients for their menus. This is the easiest way to make your restaurant more sustainable, while also appealing more to your community. Although it can be hard to find locally sourced items in the dead of winter, every little ingredient you choose impacts the environment. Your goal should be to have a rotating menu that changes with the seasons, featuring the freshest ingredients throughout the year. Asparagus in the spring, fresh berries and corn in the summer, and apples in the fall, for example, bring the freshest locally sourced ingredients to your table, thus reducing the impact of carbon emissions related to transportation.
2. Partner with local and ethical producers
Adding to the theme above, creating a network of local producers helps you support your community and reduce transportation emissions. However, you can add ethics to your list of the people you do business with and make a big difference in how the food you serve reaches the table. The whole farm-to-fork idea is not just based on the environment, but can also tie into ethical practices in the production of the ingredients you use. How a supplier grows their fruit and vegetables or raises their chickens and cows makes a huge impact on the environment. You can promote your farm-to-fork menu to attract more customers with confidence, knowing exactly how and where the ingredients you serve arrived on your table. Working with small local farmers is the best place to start.
3. Grow your own produce
From purchasing nearby farmland to using rooftop gardens, chefs are becoming more intimately involved with the foods they serve. Nothing can be fresher than fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables that you grow yourself. This is also very eco-friendly, as you reduce food waste by placing anything not eaten in your garden compost.
4. Decorate with refurbished items
Create a warm and unique atmosphere by refurbishing items used in your décor scheme. From reclaimed wood for your bar to an eclectic mix of used chairs and tables, and from used countertops to refurbished energy-efficient coolers and freezers, you can not only up your sustainability efforts but also save money. Your efforts reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in the local landfill site.
5. Organic wine list
It’s not just about the food you serve, but also the wine you pour. There is a growing variety of wines available that are either biodynamic, carbon-neutral, organic, or all of the above. Wines are being produced around the world using ethical sustainable practices that will intrigue your customers and support your eco-friendly philosophy. This goes a long way in growing your brand.
6. Save energy and water
Restaurants are notorious for water and energy usage. Introduce energy and water-saving practices and recruit your staff to participate. Every little step you take to reduce waste can make a big impact on the environment.
Install motion sensors to turn lights on and off in rooms that make sense such as bathrooms, storage rooms, staff rooms, etc. Swap inefficient light bulbs for energy-efficient bulbs. Invest in energy-efficient appliances. Stop rinsing dishes and instead use a three-basin sink for soaking, washing, and rinsing so you can reuse water safely and efficiently. Having a portable hand washing sink makes it easy for staff to wash their hands. Challenge your team to make changes that will help save the planet.
7. Manage waste wisely
Reduce waste by making sure you have the proper equipment for each job. This includes fridges and freezers that work and are energy efficient to reduce spoilage. Create a compost heap and use it for staff gardens to reduce how much garbage is sent to landfills. Use recycling bins and be sure garbage is sorted properly. Return the boxes used by your suppliers to ship food so they can be reused. Consider using items such as emptied glass jars for restaurant use such as vases on tables, storing pens in the office, and a sealed container for things like rice.
8. Choose compostable take out containers
Stop using single-use plastics for your takeout food containers. This will reduce your carbon footprint substantially. There are many new options available that can be tossed in the recycle bin other than plastic.
9. Enlist your staff in your sustainability-first philosophy
Most people today are completely onboard with sustainable, eco-friendly practices. Enlist your staff to get involved with your efforts, and welcome ideas that can help support your cause. Be sure that any new eco-friendly practices are shared, and that staff receive proper training on the efforts you expect them to make. When you involve everyone from servers to cooks and chefs to hosts, you increase the odds that your efforts will make a difference. It can also prove to be an attraction for new hires who want to be involved in something bigger than just a job.
10. Keep up to date on green trends
Pay attention to changing trends in the industry that can help provide new ideas to keep you committed over the long haul. Changes should be made continuously as new information and options become available. Consider having a team member take on the responsibility as your environmental steward who helps train people on your best practices, keeps them informed on changes, and also helps finds and implements new ideas.
11. Involve your guests
Have staff share your philosophy with guests. If guests ask for a straw, then explaining you no longer use them to help save the environment can go a long way in improving customer relations. Your sustainable, local menu can feature a little story about the producers you work with, or you can have a little message on your compostable take-out containers.
Communication helps guests understand the whys behind little changes they might not understand. Just be casual about how you communicate to guests, so you don’t force your ideas on them. Instead, have fun ways of telling your customers about your philosophy so they feel comfortable with your choices and are more likely to support them.
If you would like to learn more about refurbished commercial appliances or portable hand wash sinks, speak to our team at Ancaster Food Equipment today.