If anything that the recent pandemic taught us right is to give the right kind of respect to our planet. Sustainability is not limited to adoption of a few healthy practices but it needs to be scaled up to a mass all-inclusive movement. And that includes the food and restaurant industry as well. Eco restaurant or an environmentally friendly restaurant is not a new concept but now restaurant owners and goers are consciously working to make it happen. So, if you are also one of those restaurant owners planning to hold your social responsibility in a greener way, here are a few things you need to do:
Modify The Menu:
Every change begins from basics. If you really want to make strides towards an eco-friendly restaurant, you need to modify selection, purchase, and processing methods. Instead of offering everything all year, modify the menu according to the seasonal availability of ingredients. Famous restaurants like the Gate work on this principle and therefore change their menu four times a year. You can try rotating new dishes for 4-6 weeks to give place to ingredients having a short growing season. It will reduce your operational costs and even help your guests stay on the healthy side of their diet.
Bring Back The Traditional Cooking Methods:
No time is better than now to return to traditional cooking methods. The non-machinery based cooking procedures were not just eco-friendly but also had a distinct taste and nutrition level that is hard to find in mass-produced food items. And fear not, the trend of eating traditionally prepared food is an evergreen one, you wouldn’t lose any customers to this change.
Find More Efficient Storage Systems:
Efficient storage is key to the success of an environmentally conscious restaurant. Try to keep a tab on your products and label them according to the expiry date, remaining stock, etc. It will reduce wastage of raw materials and help make the best of money spent on the purchase. You can also take help from the latest technologies like a Point of Sale (PoS) system to keep track of the inventory and leave you enough time to take care of other relevant matters.
Decrease The Portion Sizes:
In the last few years, portion sizes have increased by 2-8 times what is permitted by the USDA. The practice has resulted in a significant increase in leftovers. You can take note of the portions and their consumption for a week or two and then decide if the portions served to guests need to be reduced or enhanced. It is a highly recommended measure for eateries trying to achieve the label of an eco-green restaurant.
Keep A Check On All Perishables:
Keep a strict check on perishable food items including vegetables, dairy products, and fruits. Most restaurant owners lose money on perishable items as they overlook or are unable to keep a check on the expiry of perishable products. Whether you are planning to change your image to an eco-green restaurant or not, the wastage of perishable items should be your highest priority.
Go With Local Food Suppliers:
If you are going with seasonal dishes then you need to establish partnerships with local traders and sellers from the closest farmer’s market. It cuts down transportation costs, shortens the supply chain, eases the management of purchase, and helps establish your restaurant as an environmentally conscious restaurant. Also, you can cut down your costs by buying in bulk from local markets. For example, Scottish Cafe & Restaurant excels in Scottish cuisine and its owner, Suzzane, sources most of her products from local sources. Over time, the local suppliers start contacting her on their own as they became aware of her sourcing techniques. She also buys the peak-season products in bulk and tries to store them using different methods like freezing, drying, and preserving.
Find Ways To Make Most of The Leftovers:
There are several ways to manage leftovers. The best way is to partner with local businesses that distribute the leftovers to the homeless and destitute. Several NGOs have been working on these lines, you can find the ones in your neighborhood and leverage the opportunity to serve the community while minimizing food wastage. Still, if you are left with food not finished by people you can always collect it separately and send it to kitchen recycle stations or compost areas. It will reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to creating a healthier world around us.
Educate The Staff and Keep The Customers In The Loop Of Your Efforts:
Once the cycle of green practices is on the go, you need to train your staff to integrate these activities into their daily routine. Inform your customers about it and request them to keep your efforts in mind while they are in the restaurant. While you cannot expect all consumers to follow or appreciate your efforts, there will be some who will admire your initiatives and recognize your dedication to sustainability.
Start With One Step At A Time:
You shouldn’t try to run before you walk. Consider your goals and break their pathway into small stages. Set a timeline for each stage and then try to follow the roadmap as best as possible. However, keep in mind that things may not go as per your plans and it may take a few years before you finally realize them in reality. You can begin with small things like printing your menu on recycled paper or substituting paper menus with digital menus, using washable serving equipment, eco-friendly cleaning products, etc. Once these small changes are in place, you can move on to slightly bigger changes and then a little more significant change and so on. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, environmentally friendly restaurants take their time to turn things around.
Bring In Environmentally Sustainable Equipment:
It includes installation of energy-efficient equipment, using solar panels for lighting, low flush toilets, turning off lights and ovens when you sign off for the day, and similar other practices. The goal shouldn’t just be to control costs but to reduce wastage on all fronts and optimum use of every resource in hand.