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14 Simple Ways Restaurants Can Go Green and Save Money

The restaurant industry is one of the biggest contributors to global waste and pollution. But there are many ways restaurants can go green in order to reduce their environmental impact. From switching up your ingredients to introducing more sustainable practices, implementing these changes will help the planet and benefit your restaurant business in the long run. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best ways to make your restaurant greener and why it’s important for you and your customers. So let’s get started!

Ways Restaurants Can Go Green

With the world becoming increasingly conscious of environmental sustainability, restaurants are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and become more eco-friendly. Here are 14 easy changes that restaurants can make to go green.

1. Reduce Your Water Usage

Water conservation is an important part of going green in the restaurant industry. Restaurants can reduce their water usage by ensuring all taps are turned off when not in use, repairing any leaking faucets or pipes quickly, and only serving customers water if they ask for it. 

Additionally, restaurants can reduce water use by installing low-flow toilets and showerheads, setting up a system to collect rainwater for reuse, or investing in smart irrigation systems for their outdoor areas. 

2. Invest In Energy-Efficient Appliances

Swapping out inefficient appliances and restaurant equipment for newer, more energy-efficient models is one of a restaurant’s most impactful green initiatives. Updating to energy-star-rated appliances can reduce energy use by 35%, directly lowering utility bills. 

Replacing refrigerators with energy-efficient refrigerators is about 9 percent more efficient than models that meet the federal minimum energy efficiency standard. These changes may require an initial investment but will pay off in the long run.

3. Improve Restaurant Inventory Management

One way restaurants can reduce their environmental impact is by improving inventory management. This includes tracking supplies and ingredients to minimize food waste and identify areas where suppliers can be more sustainable. It also means implementing systems to monitor and manage food expiration dates so that nothing is used beyond its peak freshness or shelf life. Restaurants can also track their use of certain ingredients to help them reduce their overall environmental footprint. By evaluating these inventory management systems, restaurants can ensure that their food purchases are as efficient and sustainable as possible.

4. Restructure Your Food Shipments

Restaurants should strive to source ingredients from local suppliers whenever possible. Doing so can significantly reduce shipping emissions and increase the freshness and sustainability of the ingredients used in your dishes. 

Additionally, if you must purchase food items that are shipped from afar, consider consolidating shipments with other businesses to reduce the number of trips and emissions. By restructuring your food shipments, you can reduce your overall environmental impact.

5. Use Eco-Friendly Disposables

One of the best ways for restaurants to become more sustainable is by transitioning to eco-friendly disposables. Disposable packagings such as plates, utensils, straws, to-go containers, and bags can be made from renewable or compostable materials such as bamboo, sugarcane, cornstarch, wheat straw, and paper. These materials are more sustainable than plastic or styrofoam, which often end up in landfills and oceans. By switching to eco-friendly disposables, restaurants can drastically reduce their environmental impact while providing quality food packaging solutions.

6. Minimize Food Waste

Restaurant owners can do this with careful inventory management and a practice known as FIFO (first in, first out). This ensures that the oldest food items are used first, thus reducing food spoilage and waste. 

Also, restaurants should establish a standard portion size for each dish. This helps reduce the excess use of ingredients and decrease overall food waste. 

Restaurants should also look for ways to use leftovers creatively, such as upcycling them into new menu items or donating the excess food to local shelters. By taking a few preventative steps, restaurants can reduce their environmental impact and contribute to a healthier planet.

7. Optimize Your Front-of-House

Making small changes to how you manage your front of house operations can make a big difference. Investing in energy-efficient restaurant lighting, HVAC equipment, and insulation can help reduce energy consumption. Additionally, using smarter technology like tap water systems instead of bottled water or switching to paper straws instead of plastic can help reduce the environmental impact.

8. Clean Your Restaurants With Natural Products

One of the simplest and most effective ways for a restaurant to go green is to switch out traditional cleaning products with eco-friendly alternatives. Many options on the market today use natural ingredients and reduce chemical waste while still providing an effective clean. Many of these products are also biodegradable, meaning they can be broken down and easily disposed of without harming the environment. 

9. Recycle and Compost

Properly recycling and composting in the restaurant is key to going green. All food scraps, organic waste, and used paper goods should be composted. All plastic containers, cardboard, and glass should be properly sorted and recycled to reduce waste. 

Restaurants should also consider switching to compostable take-out containers and utensils, which are much more eco-friendlier than their plastic counterparts.

10. Update Your Food Selection Often With In-Season Produce

By selecting in-season produce, restaurants are sourcing their ingredients more sustainably. This means the produce has had less time to travel from farm to table, so it retains more health benefits and has a less environmental footprint.

Learn what is farm to table here.

11. Reuse Items

Restaurants should look for ways to reuse items, like using the same tablecloths for multiple meals or using the same coffee cups instead of disposables. Not only is this an environmentally friendly option, but it can also save money in the long run. Additionally, restaurants should avoid using single-use disposables wherever possible, such as plastic straws and utensils. You can use reusable dishware instead to reduce waste.

12. Invest In Renewable Energy

One of the biggest and most impactful steps restaurants can take to become more environmentally friendly is investing in renewable energy sources. This could mean installing solar panels on the roof to power the restaurant or switching to a green energy provider such as a wind or hydroelectric facility. Many renewable energy sources offer businesses tax incentives for switching over. Making this change is a great way for restaurants to show their commitment to sustainability.

13. Encourage Sustainable Dining

Restaurants should encourage sustainable dining by providing customers with eco-friendly options. This could include offering compostable cutlery, straws, and plates made from recycled materials or offering restaurant discounts for customers who bring their own containers. Restaurants should also provide educational information about their sustainable practices on their website, menu, and establishment. By doing this, customers are more likely to choose sustainable options when dining out.

14. Offer Online Ordering and Delivery

One of the most popular ways restaurants can go green is by offering online ordering for restaurants, catering online ordering, and delivery services. With these services, customers can order food without leaving their homes, reducing the amount of car pollution and energy consumption associated with traditional restaurant visits. Restaurants can even offer discounts for customers who order online, encouraging them to use the service and incentivizing them to do their part in reducing energy consumption.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ways Restaurants Can Go Green

In this FAQ section, we’ll explore some ways restaurants can go green, including examples of green businesses, practices, and technology.

What Are 3 Examples of Green Businesses?

Some examples of green businesses include the following:

  1. Solar Energy Production: Companies that generate electricity from solar energy are starting to become more common, and they help reduce the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere. Many businesses are taking advantage of this renewable energy source and incorporating it into their operations.
  2. Organic Farming: Organic farming is an environmentally-friendly type of agriculture that does not use pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or other chemicals. It helps reduce the amount of pollutants released into the environment and produces healthier food products.
  3. Recycling: Companies that specialize in recycling are great examples of green businesses. By collecting and processing materials that would normally end up in a landfill, these businesses help reduce waste while creating reusable products. They also save energy and resources by avoiding the need to produce new materials.

These are just a few examples of green businesses that organizations can pursue. By incorporating these practices into their operations, businesses can help reduce their environmental impact and make a positive contribution to the planet. 

What Are Examples of Green Practices?

Green practices are any activities that are intended to reduce the negative impact on the environment. Examples of green practices include:

  • Reducing waste by reusing and repurposing items.
  • Cutting down on energy usage by turning off lights and electronics when not in use.
  • Using renewable sources of energy such as solar or wind.
  • Encouraging water conservation by limiting water usage.
  • Choosing organic and locally grown foods.
  • Supporting businesses that use environmentally friendly practices. 

What Are 5 Examples of Green Technology?

Green technology uses natural, renewable resources to create and supply energy. It helps reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and promotes a healthier environment. Below are five examples of green technology:

  1. Solar Panels – Solar panels capture the energy from the sun’s rays and convert it into electricity. This renewable energy source is clean and releases no pollutants or greenhouse gases.
  2. Wind Turbines – Wind turbines use the power of the wind to generate electricity. They are typically placed in areas with high wind speeds and, like solar panels, create clean energy with no emissions.
  3. Geothermal Energy – Geothermal energy is a renewable energy that utilizes the heat generated from deep within the earth. This energy is used to generate electricity or heat and cool buildings.
  4. Hydropower – Hydropower is the use of flowing water to create electricity. This renewable energy is created without emissions and can be used in many areas, such as powering hydroelectric dams.
  5. Biomass Energy – Biomass energy is a renewable energy source created from organic materials, such as plants and animals. This form of energy can be used to power electricity, heat, and transportation. 

These are just a few examples of green technology and how it can benefit the environment. By investing in these renewable energy sources, we can help protect our planet and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.