Even amidst a global pandemic it’s worth considering how your venue can be more environmentally friendly. As April 22nd is Earth Day, we figured now is the perfect time to offer some suggestions for making your venue as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible. If you’re already rolling your eyes – consider this: most sustainable solutions save you money in the long run. Whether it’s a more efficient piece of technology, or less food waste, the result is the same: a better bottom line. And it’s not a passing fad either. Across all sectors of hospitality, consumers are actively prioritizing sustainable choices, from the hotels they choose to the trips they take.
Don’t get left behind your competition when it comes to sustainable business practices. Read on to find five suggestions for making your bar or restaurant more eco-friendly.
Unless it’s absolutely necessary, now isn’t the ideal time to go around replacing all of your appliances. After a hard year, major expenses aren’t at the top of anyone’s to-do list, and to be honest – it’s not the most sustainable move to make either. But if you have older appliances, they’re probably using up more resources than they need to be, and that costs you money. Start doing some research into more efficient appliances now so you can make sustainable swaps when needed. You don’t need to buy brand new if it’s out of the budget – look for liquidation sales in your area and see if you can get second-hand products in good condition. According to ENERGY STAR, a commercial kitchen outfitted with energy efficient equipment could save operators over $5,000 each year. Overtime, those new appliances will pay for themselves.
Most operators think they’re good at managing waste – after all, wasted product is lost revenue, so it’s in your best interest to make sure that your stock is being managed properly. But the numbers say differently. American restaurants generate up to 33 billion pounds of food waste each year – and it’s estimated that as much as 10% of the food restaurants buy is discarded before it even reaches a customer. Some common contributors to waste include extravagant portions, over ordering, mismanaged storage, excess preparation and even large menus. Take a look at your venue and see what small changes you can make to reduce waste – it’ll improve your food costs and your carbon footprint. If your area offers commercial composting programs, that’s a great initiative to look into as well. Organic materials don’t break down in traditional landfills, they just turn into harmful methane gas. Composting reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps regenerate soil for healthier crop production.
While it’s tempting to cut costs by ordering everything from your main supplier, the easiest option isn’t the best – especially when it comes to sustainable efforts. When possible, sourcing from local farms will get you higher quality and more nutritious ingredients – in addition to boosting the local economy in your area and reducing emissions from long-distance transport. Depending on the farmers or local distributors, you may even be able to buy in bulk – and this applies to proteins, too. Locally raised and humanely slaughtered beef, pork, chicken and fish is more popular than ever with consumers – some restaurants have even launched their own butcher shops. Recent studies have shown that 76% of diners are more likely to visit a restaurant with locally-sourced food. Taking the time to go to local farms and farmers markets can help quickly build your network of local producers. If you’re curious about how to start the switch, see how two chefs started their locally-sourced journey here.
Most home cooks know that reducing their meat and dairy impact is good for the environment (if the whole country was vegan, we could reduce water consumption by up to 50%). The same idea applies to professional cooks. Adding more vegetarian and vegan options to your menu can attract new customers, boost profit margins and make your venue more sustainable in the long term. It’s a shrewd business move, too. Veganism has boomed over 600% in the last few years, as consumers become more conscious of their ethical and ecological impact. The Economist even declared 2019 as the ‘year of the vegan’ and said as many as 30% of American adults identify as such – so it’s a demographic worth catering too. Additionally, 39% of polled Americans said that while they still eat meat, they are actively looking to add more plant-based foods into their diet. Adding more meatless dishes to your menu means you can better serve more members of the community and reduce your environmental impact – just make sure to market your dishes so people know what you offer!
People have their favorites when it comes to cleaning products. Whether you’re #TeamChlorine or a QUAT sanitizer devotee – there are equally as effective (and less toxic) green options on the market now. They can deliver just as powerful as a clean without the fumes, volatility and skin irritations that often come with traditional cleaners. To prove their efficacy, it’s worth mentioning that green products have become popular with some of the world’s leading resorts, according to Hotel Management. George Clarke, founder and CEO of UMF Corp., told the site that the key to effective cleaning is training – and restaurant and bar operators could learn a lot from the hotel sector when it comes to developing cleaning systems (ie – it’s time to retire your dirty mop and that one cloth for wiping down tables). Check out this article for more on how to clean like a hotel.