Running a restaurant is difficult – long hours on your feet, demanding customers, intensely busy periods, managing a team of waiters.
With so much to keep track of, it’s tempting to write sustainability off as too expensive and time-consuming to warrant your attention.
But the food industry is versatile and that means it’s surprisingly easy (and cheap) to turn your catering business green.
Here’s our pick of 10 small, simple ways you can make your restaurant more sustainable.
#1: Print your menu on recycled paper
Besides filling your menu with ethically sourced and organic meals, you can also gain yourself a few extra green points by printing it on recycled paper. As well as reducing harmful paper waste, it’s a clear signal to customers of your eco-friendly commitment.
#2: Swap to electric hand dryers
Replace all paper towels in customer bathrooms with electric hand dryers and you’ll quickly witness a massive drop in the amount of waste your restaurant generates.
#3: Reduce your water usage
Month on month, try to bring your water usage down. Teach staff to turn off taps when they’re not in use, only switch on the dishwasher when it’s fully loaded or install automatic taps in customer bathrooms – there are lots of small changes to make that’ll soon add up.
#4: Separate waste
Your business has to meet several environmental and safety regulations regarding the storage and disposal of waste, so it never hurts to give your current system a once over and check that all employees (especially new starts) are 100 per cent clear on your waste policy.
#5: Source locally
When possible, source vegetable, fruit, meat and dairy from local suppliers. The slight increase in cost is offset by the fact that it’s a much more ethical way to shop, that’ll also help you form relationships with your surrounding community of like-minded businesses.
#6: Buy organic wines
The market for organically produced wines and beers has grown significantly in recent years, so you’ll have lots more suppliers and products to pick from.
Kill two birds with one stone and turn your tasting session into a team bonding exercise – we’re sure your employees won’t mind helping you pick the best ones for the restaurant.
#7: Grow your own vegetables
Take your organic drive a step further by growing your own vegetables – at the very least, it’s a unique selling point.
To guarantee success, get some ph testing indicator papers (King Scientific’s won’t break the bank) and check the soil’s suitable for planting. Once you know it’s good to go, you can get your own seasonal kitchen garden up and running.
#8: Be careful with seafood
Always follow guidelines, like those from the Marine Conservation Society, and source sustainable seafood. The basic rule to follow is, if they won’t tell you how or where they caught it, don’t buy it.
#9: Install energy efficient lightbulbs
Energy efficient lightbulbs are better for the environment, but they’ll also save you money on your monthly electricity bill – a win/win situation, right?
If you’re really determined to cut down on energy usage, put all behind-the-scenes lights (staff break areas, hallways, storage rooms and bathrooms) on automatic sensors.
#10: Change your cleaning products
Avoid all cleaning products containing toxic chemicals, especially those with microbeads. They’re one of the biggest culprits of marine pollution and, despite recent legislation to counteract them, they’re still used in lots of cleaning goods.
Got any other top tips for running a more sustainable restaurant? Leave a comment and let us know!
Our staff writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.