How to Go Green at Your Restaurant
Save the Environment and Money
It is no secret that most restaurants are not exactly environmentally friendly. They use a tremendous amount of energy and water and produce huge piles of garbage. However, today more and more people entering the restaurant industry are environmentally conscious. They grew up with recycling bins at school and at home. They know the dangers global warming and pollution. And many of them are prepared to do something about it.
It’s Not Easy Being Green
Kermit was right. It’s not easy being green. Going green for a restaurant can feel like climbing Mt. Everest. Insurmountable. You can’t just upgrade all your restaurant equipment to Energy Star models (though it wouldn’t it be awesome if you could) and you can’t train your staff to separate paper and plastic overnight. Going Green takes time and patience. The good news is that a lot of Green measures are easy to implement and won’t break the bank. Here are a few tips that the Green Restaurant Association recommends for Going Green:
• Get rid of Styrofoam. Styrofoam in most restaurants is found in the form of take out boxes, soup and coffee cups. Get rid of the Styrofoam, which never biodegrades and switch to recycled paper products.
• Install flow restrictors on faucets. A flow restrictor limits the amount of water used in hand washing sinks, on dish machines and dish sinks. B.R. Guests Restaurants, out of NYC, saved 5 million gallons of water a year by installing flow restrictors as part of their Go Green effort.
• Purchase sustainable foods. This means food products which support the long-term maintenance of ecosystems and agriculture for future generations. This includes organic and locally grown foods, both of which reduce use of toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and pollution associated with long distance transportation. So touch base with your local farmers and find out what produce they carry and when.
Local Foods and Restaurant Gardens
Buying local foods is an easy way to go green. Buying local reduces the carbon footprint - food isn't being shipped from one coast to other, using far less fuel than large-scale farm produce.
Another way to go green at your restaurant is to grow your own food and compost waste. Hyper local food - otherwise known as a restaurant garden is among one of the hottest menu trends at the moment. If your restaurant doesn't have space for a full fledge garden, you can grow a surprising amount of food in containers and raised beds, or on a rooftop, if that is an option.
Composting food waste is a natural fit for restaurants who have gardens. Composting is easy to do once you have a station set up outside. If you don't have a garden, but still want to recycle food waste into compost, connect with local farmers or garden clubs and arrange for someone to pick up the compost periodically.
While gardening and composting is not always practical option for restaurants smack in the middle of a downtown, recycling can be done most anywhere. According to Chris Giarraputo, Executive Corporate Chef at B.R. Guests, the key to recycling in a restaurant is to have stations set up in all areas, such as the kitchen, wait station, bar and office. The next important step is training the staff, which can take a little time, but is worth it in the end.
Big Ticket Items To Help You Go Green
If you are looking to open a restaurant and have the capital, or are in need of upgrades, consider purchasing the following items, which help restaurants save energy, money and the environment:
• Low Flush Toilets
• Energy Star Appliances, such as fryers, steamers, broilers, griddles and ovens.
• Energy Star Refrigeration- These models have better insulation and use almost half as much energy as older models.
• Energy Efficient Ventilation
Find more information about the Green Restaurant Association environmental guidelines.