According to some estimates, food is responsible for up to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. And generally, eating at a restaurant leaves a larger carbon footprint than eating the same meal cooked at home. For the increasing green movement, this is bad news for restaurants.
These tips can help you reduce your carbon footprint to create a more eco-friendly restaurant. Many of these practices can also help save on costs and bring in new clientele who are involved in the green movement.
Source your products from local producers and lower the amount of packaging and transport fuel needed to get the produce to your door. Added bonus, this can help boost the local economy and is a growing restaurant trend. This also means that the produce you get will be fresher.
Buy Organic Products
Where you can, use organic. This reduces the amount of pesticides released into the environment, some of which release nitrogen compounds that poison waterways and speed global warming. An added bonus is that organic is also more nutritious. For your health conscious customers, this is just another reason to choose your venue over another.
Stock Energy Efficient Appliances and Light Bulbs
This goes for fridges to dishwashers. What will save you energy and water will also save you time and utility costs. It can be expensive to run huge walk-ins and industrial stoves. Buying the most energy efficient ones usually ensure quicker cook and cool times. Great or you and great for your business!
Turn Down the Temperature Regulation
Turn down the heater/air-conditioning! Not to the point where your customers are complaining, but some places are definitely running at a capacity that is much lower/higher than necessary.
Again, since this is a high-energy, high-cost commodity, picking the appropriate temperature will help you save money. Is it the middle of June and your customers are still wearing their jackets indoors? Take it as a sign that you can turn the air conditioning down.
Use Less Meat
If you’re a steakhouse this may not be feasible, but for others using meat as a side dish or accompaniement instead of the main portion is gaining popularity. Opt for higher quality meats at smaller portions. For example, a 4-ounce grass-fed, organic local beef rather than a 24-ounce porter with questionable origins. As red meat moves to the hit list of unhealthy foods to eat, this trend to serve smaller portions of meat will help make you a popular destination for the healthy-minded customer.
Re-Useable Towels, Napkins, and Dishware
You may already use re-useable dinner napkins and kitchen towels, but you can also use these types of towels for your bathrooms. This saves on costs in two ways – no longer needing to buy paper towels and paying less for trash removal services. Plus, this is a drop in the bucket compared to kitchen and polishing table costs you are already incurring. Encourage the use of all re-useable dishware and other products to reduce on the cost of disposables.
Reduce Food Waste and Compost
Reducing food waste can happen in the back and front of the house. In the kitchen, make sure things are labeled and dated properly, rotate stock (oldest to the front, newest in back), and make use of extra products before they go bad. This will ensure that everything is used at an appropriate rate. If you want to go above and beyond, make use of things that are normally considered food waste products, like vegetable peelings and cilantro ends, by turning it into stock for soups and sauces.
Discourage Single-Use Containers
Get your customers to order exactly what they will eat rather than more by offering multiple sizes for dishes. Many restaurants will price these half-sized dishes at about 70% of the cost of the full-sized dish, even though it’s half the amount of food. So in some ways, you aren’t losing money.
If someone does have leftovers, encourage them to bring in their own food container from home and offer them a discount on their meal if they do. This is a great way to spread awareness and save you the cost of take out containers!