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Making Your Restaurant More Eco-Friendly: 5 Tips

As a business owner, your first concern is earning a profit. However, failing to take green measures could impact your long-term viability. 75% of Generation Z reported preferring sustainability to brand recognition, along with 66% of Generation X and 61% of millennials. Earning a reputation for not caring about the planet can cost your bottom line.

What can you do to improve? Here are five tips for making your restaurant more eco-friendly.

Consider Solar 

If you’re moving to a new location or renovating, consider upgrading to solar. Such a move provides you with an instant marketing angle — describe your measures proudly everywhere, from your web page to your radio advertisements. 

This technology has considerable advantages. If there’s a short-term power outage in your area, you can continue business as usual without affecting customer comfort — or your chef’s ability to see the stove. You’ll save a small fortune on heating and cooling bills, knocking those utilities as low as zero. 

Don’t stop at your interior. Covered solar parking offers the advantage of keeping your patron’s car cool while dining. It’s sad to say, but many people live in their vehicles these days — and they still need to eat. Such folks also understand the struggle, generally tipping generously and they’ll generate significant repeat business if they don’t have to return to a sauna.

Source Locally

Another way to benefit yourself and your customer base by going more eco-friendly is sourcing your menu items locally. Doing so reduces considerable carbon emissions, as goods shipped long distances must travel by plane, train and automobile to reach your door. It also increases the nutrient value and flavor of your food. Many of the phytonutrients in plants dissipate a few days after harvest, sapping your beets of taste and vibrant color. 

Where to start? Your local farmer’s market is an excellent choice. You can form positive business relationships with your favorite vendors. Who knows? You may be able to work out a deal that benefits you both. 

Do you want to go even further? If you have the space — your rooftop is a possibility — grow some or all of your food on site. Farm-to-table establishments do so with great success. Those with the most room even raise the animals used on their menu on their grounds. 

Think Seasonal

Changing your menu to reflect the season is another way to make your restaurant more eco-friendly — while saving shipping costs. That’s more money in your pocket. 

Doing so likewise enhances the flavor profile and nutritional content of your offerings. You won’t find any navel oranges growing in the Maine countryside in January. The time it takes to get to your restaurant invites the beginning of spoilage. 

What if you’re concerned about menu printing costs? You have options. Why not go to paper, considering a hemp-based model for additional sustainability? Protect their hardiness with folding binder covers that let you swap out the inserts with ease every spring, summer, winter and fall. 

Minimize Waste 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues for folks with autoimmune diseases and a high risk of infection — vaccines are not foolproof. Many of your customers will still appreciate curbside pickups. Are you still packing your to-go boxes in styrofoam and placing them in plastic bags? Do you include disposable dishware with every order, even though your clients probably have perfectly serviceable flatware at their destination? 

This eco-friendly upgrade might cost you upfront — but potentially save your business as more folks shun these substances. Most locations don’t recycle styrofoam or plastic bags, and they create an environmental nightmare. Swap these materials for renewables like hemp and bamboo bags and packaging. You can also find compostable takeout containers that fertilize your client’s gardens later. 

One simple — and free! — fix is to ask before tossing in plastic galore. A simple, “will you require silverware” saves you money and the planet. It unburdens your customer from remembering to request no plastic, a seemingly minor detail that will have the eco-friendly crowd returning again and again. Many have drawers of such goods waiting to be recycled and are dismayed that most plants won’t accept the wrappers.

Reduce Water Use

The average restaurant uses a ton of water, refilling guest glasses and washing countless dishes. However, this resource isn’t infinite — how can you use less? 

One free method involves once more training your staff to open their mouths. Ask diners whether they want water before automatically pouring a glass. This rule applies even at fine dining establishments. Today’s consumers cling less to the airs of yesteryear and appreciate your eco-friendly efforts. 

When it’s time to upgrade your equipment, look for the best Energy Star appliances you can find. Replace your water-cooled ice machine with an air-cooled version — the result is the same but uses fewer resources. Replace your combination oven, steam kettles and steam cookers with closed steam systems that use far fewer resources. 

Finally, maintain what you have. Perform routine inspections for leaky pipes and address them immediately. Ensure your staff has proper training on loading dishwashers and running them only at capacity. 

Making Your Restaurant More Eco-Friendly

Today’s consumers differ from those of yesteryear. Businesses that fail to upgrade to more sustainable practices could close their doors as today’s conscientious diners seek establishments that tread lightly on the planet. 

Follow the five tips above for making your restaurant more eco-friendly. You’ll save money, open up a new marketing angle and attract a vibrant customer base. 

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