17 Eco-Friendly Restaurant Ideas (That Won’t Break the Bank)
In today’s world, consumers are more conscious than ever about the products they buy and what those brands stand for in terms of social responsibility and environmental sustainability. You can say the same for dining choices, and the food people put into their body.
A recent study by Unilever found that 72 percent of U.S. diners care about how restaurants handle food waste, and 47 percent would be willing to spend more to eat at a restaurant with an active food recovery program.
What is your restaurant doing to reduce waste and go-green? Here are 17 eco-friendly restaurant ideas that won’t break the bank and keep customers coming back.
Supplies and Materials
1. Paper Products
When you need napkins or coffee filters, choose brown, unbleached products. The same goes for paper towels in the bathroom. You can also use brown paper bags to package takeout orders.
2. Say No to Styrofoam
Avoid using foam cups and takeout boxes. Try to replace them with biodegradable products. You can also put meals in recyclable plastic trays or offer to use customer-supplied containers if lawful.
3. Wash, Don’t Toss
Provide eat-in patrons with reusable utensils and dishes rather than disposable units. You’ll need to wash them, but this change will save money and significantly reduce the amount of trash that your business generates.
4. Straws are Optional
Plastic straws and their impact on the environment are a hot topic as of late. Instead of including a straw with every beverage, ask each customer if they want it. By asking patrons their preference, you’re not wasting straws nor denying them to people that want or need them.
5. Recycling Materials
If you offer bottled or canned drinks, place clearly marked recycling bins in multiple parts of the eatery. Rinse out the bottles and take them to the nearest recycling or redemption center.
The Meat and Potatoes
6. Inventory Management
If you find you’re throwing away a lot of expired food, make adjustments to your inventory management practices. Pull reports from your POS system to see where you can cut back and order smaller quantities. Also, instruct employees to use older, unexpired ingredients before opening new supplies.
7. Donate What You Can
Besides unusable waste like expired products, restaurants notoriously toss perfectly good food in the garbage at the end of the night. If you have extra food that is fit for consumption, don’t throw it. Instead, donate it to a local shelter or food bank. As for food scraps, ask your local farmer if he or she can use it for animal feed.
8. Local Food and Buying Local
Think about growing certain vegetables, fruits or herbs in a garden at the restaurant or your home. Use organic methods to maximize the eco-friendly benefits. You can also partner with local farms and purchase ingredients directly from them.
9. Cook What’s in Season
As the seasons change, don’t be afraid to change your menu too. Take advantage of produce that’s in season and locally sourced. Seasonal changes to your menu will make dishes fresher, more flavorful, and keep food costs down — a win-win for customers and business owners.
10. Bulk is Best
Purchase condiments in big containers and use them to refill small reusable dispensers. Customers should only receive plastic packets of dressings or sauces if they order takeout. Remember to recycle bulk containers after you finish using them.
11. Always Ask, Never Assume
If you consistently provide every customer with complimentary water or tea, substantial amounts of ice and water may go to waste. Employees ought to ask patrons if they want this drink before supplying it.
12. Lights Out
Turn off or dim unnecessary lighting to reduce energy usage. If you often forget to switch off outdoor lights during the daytime hours, you can install a photocell sensor that turns them off when it detects sunlight.
13. Cleaner is Greener
Remember to remove dust and debris from refrigerator condenser coils periodically. Check the gaskets on freezer and refrigerator doors. Replace or repair them if they allow cold air to escape.
14. Shut it Off
To save considerable amounts of electricity, shut off dishwashers, exhaust hoods, fryers, and broilers whenever your staff doesn’t need them. This tip could cut electric bills significantly every month.
15. Energy-Saving Appliances
Purchase Energy Star refrigerators, ice machines, dishwashers, and cooking appliances. Consider installing an induction cooktop or an exhaust hood with a variable-speed fan that automatically selects the optimal speed. Energy efficient appliances are not only good for the environment but also your bottom line.
16. Fan When You Can
Use cooling fans instead of air conditioning when your locale experiences moderately warm weather. In addition to conserving energy, this may allow your central HVAC system and filters to last longer.
17. Washroom Etiquette
To save water in the bathrooms, install low-flow toilets. You can make sink faucets more eco-friendly by outfitting them with flow restrictors. Beware of timed or motion-activated faucets that shut off before people can thoroughly wash their hands.
The Bottom Line
These days, everyone needs to do their part to protect this great planet of ours. When you’re a business owner, doing your part often pays dividends because these eco-friendly restaurant ideas will not only help eliminate dumpsters full of rubbish but also have a positive effect on your bottom line.