In honor of Earth Day, here are a few tips on how you can make your restaurant a little more sustainable and eco-friendly. They may even save you money in addition to helping the environment.
Use biodegradable packaging
Many restaurants use Styrofoam because it’s inexpensive. Unfortunately, it never biodegrades. Make the switch to recycled paper products or food-based packaging to reduce your impact on the environment.
For example, most of the packaging at the fast casual restaurant chain Freshii is made from highly degradable eco-friendly vegetable starches, like corn and potatoes.
In some areas, being environmentally conscious isn’t just a good thing to do — it’s mandatory. For example, a few years ago Chicago airport restaurants were required to change to eco-friendly materials.
Shut it down and fix it up
Check with your manufacturer for the most efficient use of restaurant equipment. In some cases it may be more efficient to turn them off when you are not using them. Train your employees to turn faucets off completely, and to fix leaks to help conserve water. Create signage to remind your employees to follow these routines and hopefully it will soon become habit.
Also repair and replace any broken hinges, panels, or seals on your cooking stoves and ovens. If these types of repairs are neglected, it can add up to a lot of wasted energy and money.
Make a conscious purchasing decision
Try to purchase from sources that utilize environmentally-friendly practices. Check to see if there are local foods that you can purchase to help support your local community and potentially decrease your carbon footprint, and if there are organic options available.
In many cases, locally-grown and organic foods reduce the use of toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, not to mention the pollution caused by long-distance transportation. Sustainable foods also support the long-term maintenance of ecosystems and agriculture for future generations.
Be energy efficient
Try to use energy-efficient equipment whenever possible. Fryers, cookers, and refrigerators that are energy efficient can save you hundreds of dollars each year. On top of that, many cities offer rebates for using energy-efficient products in your restaurant.