A good restaurant can become an important part of the community. It’s where people meet for both business and socializing. Restaurants also employ community members and contribute to the local economy. But they can also use up quite a bit of energy and resources along the way. Restaurants must heat their buildings and use electricity for lighting. They also
contribute to shipping energy expenditures by receiving deliveries of food, beverages and other supplies. Plus, commercial kitchens in restaurants utilize hefty amounts of gas and water.
The Gas Foodservice Equipment Network published an article with the following statistic, “The most recently published Energy Information Administration’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey shows some 217 trillion BTUs of electricity (or 63 billion kilowatt hours) are consumed annually by the U. S. foodservice market.” Because restaurants have the potential for generating a substantial carbon footprint, restaurant owners and managers should consider taking small steps to help offset their environmental impact.
Business owners should also keep in mind that as consumers become more concerned about environmental issues, going green can attract new customers and increase customer loyalty. Environmentalism is good business sense! Following are a few ways that restaurants can become more environmentally conscious:
1.) Using Biodegradable Paper Products:
There are great biodegradable and compostable options available for to-go cups and take out boxes. The website foodbizsupply.com offers sustainable supplies. If you offer matchbooks to your guests, purchase books that are made out of recycled materials.
2.) Donating Spent Grain:
If your restaurant doubles as a brewery, there’s a great way to dispose of your wet brewer’s grain (WBG). WBG is made up of the leftover particles and husks of materials like barley, corn and wheat after the brewing process has been completed. This mash is a good source of protein and is considered a safe addition to the diets of farm animals like cattle. A local farmer would most likely be happy to pick up your spent grains to feed to livestock.
3.) Sourcing Produce Locally:
You have to get menu ingredients from somewhere, so why not source from local farms? Buying fresh, local produce, cheeses and meats will add freshness and quality to your dishes while cutting out the middleman. This will also reduce energy expenditures from shipping because your foods will not be traveling long distances. A good way to develop a relationship with local farms is to visit your local farmers’ market.
The concept of using recycling options in your restaurant might seem simple, but you’d be surprised at the number of establishments that make no effort whatsoever to recycle. Recyclable materials could include everything from used light bulbs to plastic straws and lids from beverages. Depending on how much waste your restaurant generates, you will have to determine what recycling option is right for you. You can either drop off your recycled materials to a nearby drop-0ff location or contact a pick-up provider.
5.) Using Chalkboards:
Enlist your most creative employee to write your daily specials on a large, visible chalkboard rather than printing out paper fliers every day. Not only will you save paper and printer cartridges, but the chalkboard can add a bit of charm to your decor.
Restaurants are also great places to implement more generalized energy-saving practices like switching to LED light bulbs and making an effort to go paperless. Assess your energy expenditures and then find ways to cut back or offset. You may be able to save on energy costs, your customers will appreciate your efforts and the earth will be a little greener!