Owning a sustainable restaurant is no easy undertaking. It takes mindfulness to create an eco-friendly dining environment and experience for your patrons, but it's ultimately worth it. Your patrons likely agree, and you can serve even more by making a few additional changes to your eco-conscientious restaurant.
If you haven't already done so, switching out your disposable plastic straws for reusable ones is not only a smart move that helps the environment, but it can save you money in the long run. With many options out there, you'll find that stainless steel straws are a great option because they mix right in with your existing silverware. They're produced in the United States and add a touch of class to any restaurant.
Paper napkins are a thing of the past. Using linens reduces waste and leaves trees to do their job for the air we breathe. Even though they need to be cleaned, the benefits outweigh the costs. And consider printing your menus on recycled paper rather than regular paper, another benefit to the environment.
Water waste is a huge sustainability issue, especially in a business that is constantly cleaning their inventory. Training staff to be water conscious is an excellent first step, but you can also install water sensors, temperature controls, or timers - each added to recognize when the water isn't being used adequately or at all. Check your pipes and faucets frequently to make sure there are no leaks and consider only serving water to guests who ask for it.
Lighting is another wasted energy source. Motion sensors for lights located in low-use areas is a great start. These sensors will reduce lighting usage and costs, while training staff in this regard can further reduce unnecessary waste.
This should be a standard sustainability effort in all restaurants, but it's worth mentioning. Make sure your appliances are energy efficient. And if they're not, use your cost savings from your other sustainable efforts to invest in some.
Your restaurant has to be clean to stay in business, and many cleaning products on the market are toxic or environmentally unfriendly. But there are affordable options that are safer for the environment and your patrons, and using these brings you one step closer to being eco-friendly.
One of the best ways to create a sustainable environment in your restaurant is to get your guests talking. Whether it be about the new changes you've made or a conversation about a few wines on your list that are sourced more responsibly (carbon-neutral, organic, biodynamic, and so on), starting the conversation is critical to sharing the benefits of a more sustainable lifestyle. And by all means, post on social media about your efforts and highlight your green restaurant. Your patrons will enjoy hearing your philosophy, seeing your efforts, and sharing about your sustainable restaurant.