This guest post on environmentally friendly restaurants is from Jeramy Baker, and our friends at JES Restaurant Equipment & Supplies.
Newsflash: People want to eat in restaurants that don’t trash the environment. Many restaurateurs think becoming an environmentally friendly restaurant means changing the way they do things – and THEY’RE RIGHT. If you wanna get good with Mother Nature, your restaurant has to change.
But not all change is bad.
Benefits Of Environmentally Friendly Restaurants
Becoming an environmentally friendly restaurant will attract new customers and save money. Plus, you’ll feel better as a person. Here are 9 proven methods to change your restaurant into more ecofriendly.
1) Don’t Serve Water Without Asking First
Glasses of water automatically brought to a table and left untouched by guests waste water AND space in your dishwasher. The dishwasher is often forgotten as a factor in this equation. Instead, ask guests if they want a glass of water in addition to their beer or soda. They’ll usually say no, and you can always bring out water later should your guests change their minds. The same concept should be used for refilling water glasses. Ask first, and then hapily pour a refill if requested.
Make sure the wait staff communicates this as an effort to be environmentally conscious. Guests will largely view this as a positive initiative. If this isn’t communicated, however, the failure to bring water over could be interpreted as a ‘failure’ of service, so it is important to be aware of consumer perceptions.
2) Use Biodegradable Takeout Containers
Good restaurants do a lot of online ordering for takeout and delivery. The tell-tale sign of an environmentally friendly restaurant is its choice of takeout containers. Is the container made of Styrofoam or of a biodegradable material? A Styrofoam container may cost less than a paper one, but it also takes millions more years to decompose. So you may save a nickel with Styrofoam, but you create trash that lasts into the next geological era. No thanks!
3) Stop Throwing Out Silverware
An environmentally friendly restaurant and environmentally conscious restaurateurs use metal silverware over plastic utensils. Silverware can be reused whereas sporks cannot (not to mention the increased perceptual value of metal silverware over plastic). Yet even metal spoons, forks, and knives are often accidentally chucked into the garbage anyway, contributing to landfill gorging. You can avoid this problem by putting a magnetic silverware catcher on the lids of your trashcans. Food falls in while metal silverware clings to the lid.
4) Maintain A Tight Inventory
According to this study, American restaurants produce more than 134,350,000 pounds of food waste every day. That’s not just from scraps left on plates. Much of food waste comes from ingredients that chefs allow to spoil and then must throw out. You can reduce food spoilage by keeping a tighter inventory, ordering fewer ingredients, and using perishables sooner.
5) Avoid Using Paper Towels
Imagine all the stuffed garbage bags that you have hauled from your bathroom to the dumpster. You can shrink this mountain of discarded paper by installing electric hand dryers, if your restaurant’s ambiance allows for it.
This also has a very positive affect on the overall cleanliness of the bathroom, as paper towels are often tossed about and miss the trashcan. Sometimes our aim is not as good as we think!
6) Make Deliveries By Foot, Bike, or Moped
If you deliver food within an urban area, you have a choice. Either your delivery boys can clunk through the city on heavy eight cylinder combustion engines or choose an alternative. Mopeds, for instance, get about 120 miles per gallon. Using bikes, mopeds, or your own two feet conserves fossil fuels and saves you time searching for parking. In most municipalities, it also allows you to weave through traffic or use sidewalks. This can be a critical time saver that helps keep food warm and service speedy.
7) Upgrade Your Equipment
You can replace an incandescent light bulb with an LED bulb and save 500+ watts per day. Compare this to the 14,000 watts per day you save by replacing an old freezer with a new Energy Star Certified freezer. Quite a difference. (…And while we’re on the topic of freezers – be sure to defrost yours regularly. This will take a strain off your appliance and conserve electricity.)
8) Turn Off Your Water Faucets
If you repeatedly remind your cooks to turn off the faucet, you run the risk of being labeled a nag. So, instead, post a friendly reminder above the sink to turn the water off when not in use. Your cooks will listen without you ever having to utter a word. Or, install foot-pedal controlled faucets that force you step on a pedal to turn on the water.
9) Recycle Your Printers’ Ink Cartridges
Most restaurateurs toss the ink cartridges from their POS printers into the trash after the cartridge has run out of ink. They don’t know these cartridges can be recycled for free. Websites like RecycleUS.com will take your used ink cartridges and dispose of them for you. They even pay for shipping.