March 20, 2020
Transforming your Restaurant to Eco-Friendly
With two-thirds of Americans willing to pay more for “green” dining, making your restaurant eco-friendly in 2020 is vital to your business. Today’s consumers are interested in eating healthier and in restaurants that try to protect the environment. Even if your menu is not an organic one, there are several ways you can offer eco-conscious consumers an environment that says you care about the impact your restaurant has. Did you know that restaurants are the number one consumer of electricity in the commercial sector? By reducing your restaurant’s energy usage alone you can help support our planet, but there’s more you can do. Check out some of the ways you can make your restaurant eco-friendly.
1. Reduce food waste. With the average restaurant in America wasting between 25,000 and 75,000 pounds of food every year, this is an area where your restaurant can have a huge impact. There are many ways to reduce food waste and help our environment. Here are just a few to help you get started:
• Get a handle on your inventory. Use a digital inventory management tool to reduce food waste. Take advantage of the latest tech and receive alerts on your phone when inventory is getting close to its expiration date. This software also gives you insight into your true inventory status so you don’t order more than you can use before it expires.
• Compost any leftover food or donate it to a local community garden that uses compost.
• Highlight expiration dates with prominent “use by” stickers so your kitchen staff knows which items to use first.
• Keep your local food kitchen in the loop and donate unused inventory that has not expired to help the people in your community. You’ll feel good about it and it will help give your restaurant some positive exposure.
2. Install energy-efficient appliances and lighting. We mentioned the huge drain on the power grid that most restaurants make (the foodservice industry uses $10 billion in energy each year), and you can reduce that number by using lighting and appliances that are energy efficient.
• You can find Energy Star heating and cooling elements, furnaces, washing machines, refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, microwaves, exhaust fans, ceiling fans, hand dryers, lighting, and more. Use as many of these energy-efficient devices as possible.
• Install a high-efficiency water heater.
• Use tinted windows or window shades to cut down on cooling costs during the hotter months.
• Use a programmable thermostat and keep indoor temperatures moderate.
• For serious savings, check into using renewable energy options like solar panels, a solar water heater, wind turbines, geothermal, and solar exhaust.
• Keep appliances and equipment well maintained and in good working order to get peak performance and longevity.
• Use power strips in your back office and turn them off at the end of the day or unplug them completely. If no one is using the lights or equipment plugged into them, there’s no need for them to stay on. Even when equipment is turned off, unless it is unplugged it still draws electricity.
• Replace any incandescent bulbs with LED lighting for energy efficiency.
3. Introduce recycling. If you aren’t already recycling, start! If you are, look for ways to increase the items you use that can be recycled, and reduce waste. Switch from paper to cloth for napkins and tablecloths and print any paper products on recycled paper. Swap out paper towels for cloth towels in the bathrooms or switch to chlorine-free, recycled paper.
4. Reduce shipping costs. Check into reducing your shipments to help cut down on fuel emissions. Ask your vendors to use biodegradable materials and less packaging for your orders. If you’re using a digital inventory management system mentioned above, this could help streamline your shipping needs.
5. Green up your cleaning products. The harsh chemicals in conventional cleaning products are bad for the environment. These cleaners pollute the air and water and don’t break down. Switch to eco-friendly biodegradable cleaners that contain Design for the Environment (DfE) or Green Seal certified chemicals. These all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, and carpet care products are safer for humans, animals, and the environment.
6. Invest in decomposable containers. The time has passed to ditch Styrofoam and plastic takeout containers. Switch to using 100% compostable, biodegradable disposable food and takeout containers. Many cities are implementing disposable foam food container bans, but even it that’s not the case in your town, being proactive in this regard is not only good for the environment but will show your vendors and customers that you care about protecting our planet.
7. Make it official and become a certified “green” restaurant through the Green Restaurant Association. This association was founded in 1990 and has been instrumental in helping to transform the restaurant industry from a single-use, throwaway mentality to a reusable one. Consider joining the ranks and getting your employees green certified, too.
At Gilkey Restaurant Consulting, we help our clients improve operations and increase profits. If you’re interested in going green, we can help you get there. To learn more about how we can help you grow your business and help your restaurant thrive in today’s marketplace, contact us and get started on the road to success with our restaurant consulting services!