The multitude of terms associated with current environmental trends can be confusing and overwhelming, sounding almost identical to each other. Yet many of these trends have slightly different implications for restaurants, and can help improve business, while supporting a good cause, when done right. “Environmentally sustainable” is a term used to describe elements, items, or goods, which are geared towards preserving or bettering the environment for future generations. While it can be argued that other culinary trends such as the farm-to-table movement and improving business energy efficiency are included within the idea of being environmentally sustainable, it is worthwhile for businesses to consider each trend separately when deciding how to run a restaurant.
Why be Environmentally Sustainable?
When faced with the task of processing and responding to the facts about the detrimental state of the environment, many become concerned. Large industries and businesses have a huge impact on the environment, and therefore, each restaurant holds a small share of responsibility. When considering how to run a restaurant, many times business owners focus on how to make profits now, whether than consider how to be environmentally sustainable for the future. However, with the increased focus on the environment, restaurant businesses can benefit from being a “green restaurant” with sustainable food, among other environmentally sustainable initiatives. Nowadays, how to run a restaurant depends on more than just immediate financial decisions; it also depends on the reputation of the venue, as perceived by the public. A recent survey by the Sustainable Restaurant Association showed that a significant percentage of diners claimed they would be willing to pay up to 10% more for an environmentally sustainable restaurant meal. Consumers are starting to take interest in knowing where their food comes from, and how their decisions as consumers impact the environment. A “green restaurant” which attempts to be environmentally sustainable, will have a competitive advantage over other venues, by catering to this environmental concern.
How can Restaurants be Environmentally Sustainable?
There are many aspects of how to run a restaurant that can be geared towards environmentally sustainable solutions. The Sustainable Restaurant Association focuses on 3 key areas that restaurants can consider in order to be environmentally sustainable. These areas are society, environment, and sourcing. Though these criteria are not set in stone, they are useful guidelines for businesses to consider when deciding how to run a restaurant. Restaurants can focus on the society component by making sure provider sources are treated well and are “fair trade” suppliers. They should also focus on healthy eating and practice responsible, honest restaurant marketing. When planning how to run a restaurant to sustain the environment, by saving electricity (through shutting off lights and using energy star appliances) and water and reducing food waste, businesses can save themselves money, while raising their reputation by being a green restaurant. Catering to the farm-to-table movement and offering sustainable, fair trade food, will make the venue environmentally sustainable in sourcing practices. The possibilities for transforming a venue to be environmentally sustainable are vast, and the ones listed here by no means cover all the options. Nevertheless, they are good ideas to start with when considering how to run a restaurant.
Becoming environmentally sustainable is one of the culinary trends that encompass many other culinary trends. By adopting ideas such as serving local food or sustainable food, and increasing business energy efficiency, businesses can do good for the environment while improving their reputation among consumers with a preference for environmentally sustainable business. Though some of the concepts related to being an environmentally sustainable restaurant, such as purchasing only local food, can be expensive, other factors such as increasing business energy efficiency can save the business money. The added financial benefit of attracting environmentally-conscious customers makes becoming environmentally sustainable a win-win situation for restaurant businesses.