With climate change swiftly eroding cities and countries around the world, there’s never been a better time to become more mindful of the environment. Eco-friendly practices don’t have to stop within personal and everyday life either.
For existing or new restaurant owners, there are ample opportunities to make environmentally friendly tweaks that’ll impact how customers carbon imprint and waste bear on the world. From creating an eco-friendly restaurant strategy of sorts for your business to encouraging customers to take part in the changes, there’s plenty that restaurants that feed families and communities can do to bridge the gap and make the world greener.
Create an Official Strategy with Goals
Not sure where to start or overwhelmed with the zillions of options your restaurant can choose to become more environmentally mindful? Start with making an earnest plan or work with an experienced restaurant consultant. Perhaps you’d like to come up with a way to deal with the rampant food waste at the end of each day. Or maybe the usage of plastics and other non-biodegradable materials is in excess. In evaluating easy tweaks from taking a survey of frequently used items and processes, the transition can become a little less complicated.
This is not to say that the road to embarking on making these changes won’t be challenging and uncomfortable. Confronting the truth of overuse of resources bordering on wastefulness could be jarring to face. However, the upside is that your restaurant and the ecosystem in your community will be better off in the future.
Setup a Reuse and Recycling System
The first active step after surveying your restaurant systems honestly and attempting to set goals is to start with recycling. Set up bins for recycling plastic and aluminum containers instead of simply trashing them. Create separate compost bags rather than throwing away all food scraps. Moreover, you can consider freezing scraps in adherence to health and food safety standards for use in future meals and stocks.
If frying and using oil often is a part of your restaurant, purchase a variety of containers for discarding of oil properly. It is never safe to pour used oil down the drain as it can quickly erode septic systems and impede proper drainage, especially if there’s a garbage disposal. Plan to not reuse oil in perpetuity and keep thorough records to know when and how to discard of used oil properly.
Eliminate Takeout Waste
Paper straws are all the rage for most restaurants, and while that might be an excellent starting point, you can go even further by attempting to eliminate as much takeout waste as possible. Instead of standard napkins, look into purchasing bulk recycled ones that have been created from certifiable recycled paper.
Takeout, or customers who are taking their orders to go, can often account for a considerable area of waste. However, there are better options in this realm. For one, there’s recycled to-go boxes. They are made of paper instead of Styrofoam and aren’t as sturdy. Additionally, there’s the option to use recycled supplies like cutlery, which has been made from forks, knives, and spoons that were formerly recycled.
If tracking down all these miscellaneous items for your restaurant begins to become a chore, locate an eco-friendly or green restaurant supplier. These companies are your one-stop-shop and will have several tried and true options for restaurant owners who are trying to meet their restaurant’s supply needs more responsibly with the environment in mind.
Also, consider eliminating paper or plastic takeout bags. Using these for customers quickly adds up to be an excessive waste of items that most likely won’t be recycled.
Encourage Customers to Take Part
And the last step in being an eco-friendly restaurant: let your customers, your community, take an active role in helping you treat the environment better. Make announcements about these changes. Either inform customers as they order or post signs about the changes. Bringing their attention to it makes it more communal and can encourage ownership for them to be more mindful, too.
For example, say one of your plans in your eco-friendly goals is to eliminate the overuse of plastic bags. One fundamental way to go about doing this, other than signage and telling customers about the change, is to gently suggest customers bring their reusable bags for transporting carry-out orders versus expecting plastic or paper bags that are being eliminated.