“As much as 40% of all the food grown, processed, and transported in the United States will never be consumed,” according to the National Restaurant Association’s Conserve program. NRA Conserve is spreading awareness around what restaurants can do to avoid waste and help save the planet.
Sustainability is more than just a catchphrase, or a marketing idea; it’s a lifestyle. As a restauranteur, that means that it goes beyond your home and personal life, and is also about how you run your restaurant. Beyond just being good for the earth, being more sustainable also makes good sense for your bottom line.
3 Tips to Make Your Restaurant More Sustainable on Earth Day
In honor of Earth Day, take a look at your restaurant’s operations and see if they are in line with your personal values. Not sure where to start?
1- Look at your food sources.
Sustainability for your restaurant should start in the kitchen. It’s about more than just a stamp that reads “organic.” Take a look at the food you’re using and also where you are sourcing that food. Work with local farmers and producers where you can, and even considering growing your own items if you have the space. This doesn’t mean you need to have a full garden for all your produce needs, but even an herb garden for your most used herbs can go a long way.
2- Manage food waste.
Every year, Americans throw away tons of perfectly edible food. Wasting just 15% less would feed 25 million more people. Throwing food away is also throwing away money. At your restaurant, come up with an organized food inventory system to reduce food spoilage, and design menus and specials with limiting food waste in mind. Also, pay attention to what’s coming back to the kitchen. If there is a trend of uneaten food on plates? Maybe you can adjust your portion sizes. And as for the coffee grinds and food you are scraping into the bin, look into working with a local farmer to compost. Many farms will come retrieve the compost, often while making deliveries, a winning partnership.
3- Think beyond food.
Being sustainable is part of a lifestyle, not just part of your kitchen. Think about how you can be more sustainable in other parts of your operations. What types of restaurant management technology can you embrace to cut down on unnecessary paper and waste? What types of linen services and paper products can you buy that are more earth friendly? Can you offer your staff a benefit for cycling or taking public transportation to work instead of driving? Train your entire staff on how your restaurant is being more sustainable, and get input from them too. The more they are on board with your mission, the more they will be advocates for your efforts.
As Americans become more and more personally invested with a sustainable lifestyle, they are going to come to expect the businesses they frequent to be as well. It’s not just a novelty or a nice perk any more, it’s an expectation. People want to work for companies and support businesses whose values align with their own. And customers want to dine in restaurants that are transparent in their values and food sources. Luckily, it’s a change that, in the long run, will also be beneficial to your business, your bottom line, and your shared planet.