Local. Sustainable. Organic. These are the buzzwords when we hear and talk about food these days. To practice sustainability as a community, consider the concept of the “local food movement.” It is a collaborative effort by farmers and businesses (markets and consumers) to build more locally based and self-reliant food economies. Many chef-driven restaurants are moving towards local sustainability, where food is sourced within 100-400 miles of the business and through organic growing methods. Consumers are doing their part in driving this movement by recognizing and supporting–eating out–at these sustainable restaurants.
Listed below are a few things to look out for in an eco-friendly/sustainable restaurant operation.
5 Signs of an Eco-Friendly Restaurant
- Recycling. A restaurant disposes of nearly a ton of glass bottles on average a month through normal business operations. This is why a recycling program is so critical to restaurant businesses. Glass can be remelted/reshaped for use over and over again. Paper products should also be sorted for recycling (e.g. daily menus that are printed can be turned into scrap paper).
- Container gardening. Look for a restaurant that has container gardening. Take 4th & Swift in Atlanta, Ga. for example. Through a partnership with Farmer D Organics, organic soil and plant foods maker that is nationally recognized by Whole Foods, the chef grows seasonal vegetables right outside his restaurant, which is situated in an urban neighborhood.
- Composting. Restaurants with container/outdoor gardens typically make their own composts from vegetable refuse. Whether it is potato skins, lettuce heads, vegetable stalks, etc. these natural refuse makes great compost material for the garden.
- Unplugging appliances and point-of-sale systems. When electronics are plugged in, electrical currents still run through them even though they are not in use. Restaurants that unplug electronics during closing hours see their electric bills decrease five to eight percent. That’s savings good for the bottom line and the environment!
- Food donation. While supporting environmental sustainability, organizations like Panera donate day old bagels and pastries to local, non-profit organizations like Stand Up for Kids. Restaurants can follow suit with bread baked for dinner/lunch service. Instead of throwing food away, donate it!