Running a restaurant is difficult – long hours, demanding customers, intense busy periods and managing a staff.
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 make your restaurant more sustainable.
Here’s our pick of 11 small, simple ways you can make your restaurant more sustainable.
#1: Use a Green Web Host
If your restaurant has a website then you can go green without lifting a finger.
Websites are an important part of the restaurant industry. Customers can come to your website to learn more about the restaurant, view the menu and maybe even order online. Every website is hosted on a server. The problem is that these servers consume tons of energy and are powered by fossil fuels. In fact, it is estimated that each web hosting server produces 1390 pounds of CO2 each year!
You can reduce your environmental impact by using a green web hosting company.
Green web hosting companies purchase renewable energy to power or replace the energy used by their servers. This reduces or even negates a website’s carbon footprint.
They also include impressive credentials that you can place on your website so that your customers and community know that you are serious about going green!
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#2: Offer Biodegradable Straws
The environmental impact of plastic straws and other single use plastic has been well documented. For example, plastic straws can interfere with animal life and they often pollute our shores and beaches.
A best practice is to only offer straws if a customer asks for them. If a customer does need a straw then your staff can provide an option that has minimal effects on the environment.
While it might be tempting to eliminate all straws in your restaurant, it is important to consider the consequences of such a decisive action. For example, it has been noted that some people with disabilities rely on straws to drink without assistance. Banning them could potentially have unintended negative consequences for certain populations. That is why using eco-friendly and sturdy alternatives is often preferred.
#3: 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.
#4: Reduce 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.
#5: 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.
#6: 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.
#7: 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.
#8: 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.
#9: 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.
#10: Install Energy Efficient Light bulbs
Energy efficient light bulbs 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.
#11: Change 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.