Going green has many benefits — both for your restaurant and for the planet at large. Not to mention that today’s consumers are increasingly indicating a strong preference for supporting businesses with environmentally-friendly practices.
So what are some simple things your restaurant can do to go green without a complete overhaul? Consider these seven tips for incorporating more green into your business.
1. Work on Waste
Restaurants in the U.S. waste as much as 33 million tons of food annually, according to a report from Restaurants.com. Not only that, but research further indicates that roughly 10 percent of all restaurant food purchases are destined for the dumpster.
These figures are doubly concerning — both in terms of your establishment’s expenses and the planet at large.
In order to figure out exactly how much food your restaurant is wasting, undertake a waste audit. This can help you better understand what’s going into your garbage can and why.
While implementing recycling programs can be overwhelming at the onset, doing so can go a long way toward lowering both your consumption and costs. If you’re not yet recycling, look into programs in your area to get started.
How’s this for a push in the right direction? Research shows that three out of five diners prefer restaurants which recycle.
2. Limit Electricity Use
During peak hours your restaurant is burning through large amounts of electricity due to equipment use, heating and air conditioning, and lighting, but what about during slow and closed hours?
Shutting off idle appliances and lighting when not in use is a simple yet effective way to cut both costs and energy usage. Timers on outdoor lighting, meanwhile, save power from the outside in.
Replacing lighting with LED and CFL light bulbs is another means of saving without a significant upfront investment.
If you do have a bigger budget to work with, consider upgrading to Energy Star appliances. But whatever type of appliances you have, be sure to have them cleaned and serviced regularly to ensure efficiency.
To learn more about how much energy you’re using and techniques for cutting down, contact your utility company for an energy assessment.
3. Embrace a Green Clean
Cleanliness is a huge deal in the restaurant business, but are the cleaning agents you’re using kind to the planet? Not only do green cleaners keep harsh chemicals out of the environment, but they also offer a solution certain to be appreciated by your customers and staff alike.
4. Reduce Water Consumption
Certain types of kitchen equipment, including pre-rinse spray valves and faucet aerators, are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and go a long way toward water conservation.
Other quick fixes when it comes to water use? Repair any leaky pipes and/or make sure staff are trained to turn off water when they’re not using it.
If your restaurant currently offers water to all customers, consider serving it by request, instead.
5. Consider Composting
Composting is a recycling method which transforms organic waste — including everything from egg shells to animal bones — into soil. The best part? The process takes very little and produces a nutrient-rich result — perfect for restaurants which also grow their own food.
If you don’t have room to compost, check in with your waste management provider to determine if they offer compost haul away services.
6. Rethink Your Menu
Sourcing foods locally spares the fuel and money it takes for food from afar to make its way to you. An added benefit? Locally sourced foods is one of the biggest trends right now, and a major selling point for diners.
This doesn’t have to mean overhauling your entire menu. Even starting with a few seasonal items is a giant step forward.
Many local farmers will be happy to work with your to determine the best products –from produce and cheese to honey and meat — for your restaurant needs.
It’s not just what you serve, but also how much. Limiting portions to a satisfying but not excessive amount is one way to prevent food from ending up in the trash. Not sure which menu items could use some portion control? Keep watch on what gets sent back to the kitchen.
7. Involve Your Staff
Just as safeguarding the planet requires collective action on the part of all of its inhabitants, so does going green with your restaurant require buy-in from every member of your staff.
Make sure your entire team is educated in both the value of adopting more environmentally-friendly practices, along with the role they play in helping to achieve your green goals.
One last thing to keep in mind? While going green for green’s sake is a worthwhile endeavor, sharing the news with your customers offers additional business marketing benefits. Make sure you spread the word about environmental updates and changes at your restaurant.
The planet won’t just benefit — so will your bottom line!