Operating a restaurant often leads to late-night panic attacks about survivability, let alone sustainability. The restaurant business is tough but, surprisingly, pitching yourself as a green restaurant helps you succeed at the survivability as well.
Right now the public’s interest in sustainability means going green has marketability. Many of the ways to go green also reduce operating costs in the now, improving the odds of hitting that coveted three-year mark.
Industry reports reflect a trend to value in eco-friendly policies. Reduction of waste and an emphasis on reusables also removes clutter and helps inventory control.
Get started on your own green restaurant initiative by checking these tips and integrating them into your business.
Ways to Go Green Today
It doesn’t matter if your intentions to green up your business comes from a dedication to the planet, your customers, or your own bottom line. The environment benefits regardless of motivation.
Check-in with a group like the Green Restaurant Association for more in-depth instructions on their certification process and grab onto the power of an official stamp of approval.
Not all of the following go green ideas are equal in impact or ease of implementation but they all move you in the right direction.
1. Demand Sustainable Products
Some of the largest wastes of materials don’t even come from inside your business, they get delivered to it. Changes in your delivery vessels add up quickly.
Request sturdy and reusable vessels. These can be picked up after being unloaded and reduce the waste of cardboard and plastic that heaps up in your kitchen and dumpster.
A bonus of this tip reflects in your inventory control. You gain a clearer picture of what’s entering your kitchen by the frequency of deliveries and the stacks of vessels waiting to be picked up.
Not that you can’t make use of delivery vessels in the meantime. Many vessels are essentially portable shelves, which increase your available surface area between pickups.
2. Conserve Water
An enormous amount of energy goes into purifying and recycling water. The less water you use, the more energy stays available for other purposes. Since you also pay for the water that flows through your pipes, saving it saves your cash.
Installing flow restrictors into critical water points saves big.
Handwashing sinks, dish sinks, and dishwashers benefit from this technology.
You never want to skimp on your cleanliness and safe food handling. The purpose of water restriction isn’t to use no water, it is to use an appropriate amount of the tasks at hand.
3. Green Clean
Speaking of sanitation, swapping out harsh industrial cleaners for their green equivalents puts fewer contaminants in the water to begin with.
The easiest place to inject some green into your business is with your cleaning supplies. Biodegradable soaps get the job done and leave less residue which requires less rinsing which saves water. It’s a solid loop to get into.
Green cleaners also come in neutral or natural scents, which leaves less ammonia and chemical smell in the air. It might not matter so much in your kitchen but customers appreciate that extra type of clean when it comes to tasting your food.
4. Break the Plastic Chain
Taking stock of the amount of plastic products in your restaurant is like taking inventory of the mistakes made in a slapstick comedy. You start out thinking they’re only a few and realize quickly they’re everywhere.
The menus are laminated or come in neoprene covers. To-go containers and utensils, ramekins, plates, cups, and the dreaded menace of the plastic straw all need to be dealt with.
Anything you can replace with recyclable paper and glass should be replaced. These materials are priced competitively, last just as long, and don’t take up landfill space for decades.
Paper straws, in particular, are on their way to becoming a necessity.
5. Source Local
Customers today aren’t just interested in knowing their food comes from a sustainable and local source, they’ve grown quite vocal about it.
Focusing on the 100-mile agenda and trying to get produce and ingredients from within that radius saves cash. Local farmers, what with the need to spend less on transportation, can offer better deals to you.
Local food sources also can deliver in a shorter time span which means less space needed for refrigeration and storage.
You can go a step further and start your own garden either on-site or nearby to provide that extra edge of fresh and hyper-locality to your foods.
Using your own garden also provides an excellent reason to compost your food wastes. This further reduces your waste and improves your bottom line.
6. Encourage Energetic Lifestyles
You don’t want to be accused of learning how to be eco-friendly just for the publicity. You want to show your investiture in a healthy and happy world.
Offering incentives to your employees in the form of fitness programs and other benefits. Customers respond positively to fit and happy staff.
Be careful that encourage doesn’t become enforcing. Providing incentives to employees to make positive and healthy changes runs afoul of unfair labor practices when it goes from should to must.
7. Power Down
After a swap in cleaning supplies, going with energy-efficient lights and equipment is the second easiest greening you can do.
It’s obviously easier to install better appliances if you are getting started than a retrofit but the savings over time make both worthwhile.
Low energy lights improve mood and have more natural light qualities. Newer refrigeration equipment works harder for less energy draw.
Heat management in the kitchen is crucial, a lot of excess heat gets exhausted through your fume hoods. The more efficient your hoods, the less your AC has to compensate to keep your place temperate.
This list covers a lot of ways to go green but there’s always more to learn and do. perhaps you will come up with the next great initiative and put yourself on the map of sustainable excellence.
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