Eco-friendly eating and living are, in the jargon of social media, trending. Trending hotter than ever.
And as green living becomes more popular, eco-friendly restaurants are in increasingly high demand around the world. If you’ve ever dreamed of owning your own eatery and simultaneously making a positive impact on the world, now is the time to cash in on the growing migration toward environmentally friendly restaurants.
But for those who truly bleed green, how do you open a restaurant without increasing the size of your own meager carbon footprint?
Location, Location, Location
Location is the number one rule of real estate, and it’s also the most important to the success of your new eco-friendly business. A green restaurant will flourish best in a progressive community that is known for making conscious decisions to protect the environment and eat more natural foods. Think specifically of big cities with young and hip crowds, such as Austin or Los Angeles.
The construction and design of your restaurant is important, as it will have the longest-lasting impact on the environment. Although the guidelines are stringent, the U.S. Green Building Council has a rating system that grades buildings on their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Known as LEED certification, very few restaurants carry the prestigious title. Whether or not it’s possible for you to achieve LEED certification with your new restaurant, you can at least model your new business after some of the guidelines. Try partially running on solar or wind power, or if your business is in an area known for high rainfall, consider implementing a rainwater collection system.
Equipment and Supply
A restaurant that is truly eco-friendly will not stop at green energy, but will also implement environmentally friendly practices into choosing its restaurant supply sources. Try to find a supplier that can offer you sustainable dinnerware and eco-friendly take-out containers.
It's completely possible to fully construct a commercial kitchen for your restaurant that contains energy-efficient equipment. For example, consider purchasing dishwashers that conserve more water and refrigerators that use less energy.
Ultimately, customers who frequent eco-friendly restaurants will visit based not only on the taste of the food you serve, but also based on the way in which you obtain the food. Be green by purchasing locally grown fruits, vegetables and meats whenever possible. Not only are supporting your local community, but you’re also reducing carbon emissions by not having the food delivered from hundreds of miles away. If possible, serve all natural or certified organic foods free of trans-fats, hormones and pesticides.
It’s important to train your staff in having green habits at work. For example, tell employees not to let the water run while washing hands during a shift. You may also consider implementing green cleaning practices that use less water and cleaning agents that are free of VOCs and are certified green.
Being environmentally friendly doesn’t stop with energy and food preparation. The way that you dispose of waste is also important to your restaurant's impact on the environment. Try placing recycling bins next to the trash to encourage your staff to recycle paper goods and plastics. To further improve your waste management techniques, consider sending the organic wastes from your kitchen to local farmers for composting.
While establishing an eco-friendly restaurant requires quite a bit of research and work up-front, the pay offs down the road for both your business and the environment are nearly endless! Now’s the perfect time to get started!