Ken Burgin

Sustainable Restaurant

How to Promote your Cafe or Restaurant as Environmentally Sustainable

It’s surprising how many cafes and restaurants follow sustainable practices with the food and packaging materials they use, cleaning products, energy sourcing, plus waste disposal and recycling.

What we’re often not good at is sharing the good news, especially as environmentally friendly and sustainable business is a constant theme in traditional and social media, plus school education. Consumers are very interested in what makes you an eco-friendly coffee shop or restaurant, as are corporate and government clients – in some cases, they’ve been told to make this a priority in their choice of venues. There’s also research showing that, for consumers, sustainability initiatives signal trust and product quality.

There’s real value in having a short Environmental Impact Statement on your website, and developing it as you take new initiatives. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, but it does need to be honest – topics covered could include:

How to Describe and Share your Restaurant Sustainability

Energy Efficiency: what you have done to reduce energy use with lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, appliances, office equipment, and transport. Show photos of the new LED lights and equipment.

Green Power Sources: if your electricity is from a wind or solar source, share the information. And don’t be shy about sharing the cost of energy each month – whatever the source, the figures are usually way more than people imagine. thousands of dollars not hundreds.

Reduced Use of Gas for Cooking and Heating: gas has been a staple of busy kitchens for many years, and serious enrvironmental action needs to include less use of gas, and more use of electricity from sustainable sources. Induction cooktops and electric appliances reduce heat (plus stress and exhaust costs) in the kitchen, are easier to clean, and can save labour. If you are replacing gas appliances, make sure to share the good news.

Carbon Offset Program: if you use one, explain how it works and link to the program’s website. They will usually give results and numbers, which can be worth quoting.

Water Conservation: outline the methods used for kitchen appliances, equipment and landscaping, and in a way that does not compromise hygiene and cleanliness. That may include kitchen and drainage redesign to reduce the need for endless hosing.

Recycling Activities: restaurants and cafes have always recycled glass bottles, cooking oil, cardboard and paper. Take it further with recycled toner cartridges, batteries and green waste – share photos and details about the services you use. If you have an extensive program, it could also be of interest for a local school to visit for an excursion – and more photos!

Source Reduction: Do suppliers take back the packaging supplied with deliveries or eliminate it altogether? Are polystyrene foam boxes and package still accepted with deliveries, and how do you reduce the use of cling wrap?

Sustainable and Local Food: talk about the suppliers you buy from, and how they support you with sustainable sourcing for seafood, meat, vegetables and dry goods. They are often keen to highlight the restaurants and cafes doing this, and may be able to provide photos and information.

Recycled or Sustainable Furniture: used wher possible, and any wooden furniture or shelving does not come from old-growth forests.

Non-toxic Cleaning Products: are used that are biodegradable, free of hazardous ingredients, and safe for people and the environment.

Employee Engagement: at the heart of an environmental commitment is the enthusiasm and commitment of staff. There may be one or two with extra responsibilities – explain how staff are educated and encouraged, and the monthly routines that keep everyone involved.

Tracking the Numbers: sustainability has to make good business sense, and there will be ways to explain the positive financial side eg reduced energy costs, carbon impact, less landfill and lower staff turnover. Make this a challenge for staff to track – another side of educating them in the realities of business.

Share photos and small wins: use social media channels and newsletters to keep people aware of your ‘small and frequent’ initiatives – it soon adds up to be very impressive!

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