By far, one of the biggest criticisms we hear about going sustainable is the high initial price tag. It’s true that you won’t see or recoup the cost of some technologies like high efficiency faucets and LED lights until as much as 12 or even 24 months after purchasing—which, if you’ve just opened or your business is struggling, the uncertainty of being open in the next couple of years is enough to make you wary of large expenditures in the near future; couple that with the higher price tag of compostable disposables and biodegradable trash bags…well you can just forget it!
If the warm fuzzies you’ll get from being eco-friendly isn’t enough for you to take the plunge in sustainability, fear not—here are some simple swaps you can make in your restaurant that’ll help you save a little here or there to make you more comfortable with the cost of environmentally friendly products. Because in all honesty, more and more cities are moving towards zero waste goals, and if you don’t have sustainability initiatives in place now you could be looking at a tough road ahead later.
Get a Scale (and Use It)
“Eyeballing” might be the most common form of measurement in the kitchen, but it’s hardly the most precise. The largest offenders of “eyeballing” measurements are pizza and sandwich shops, who commonly serve up products made-to-order. You may not think an extra handful of cheese here, or slice of tomato there would mean much in the grand scheme of things, but you’d be surprised just how quickly it adds up.
Make Your Product Work for You – Use Every Part of the Vegetable AND Animal
You can save more when you buy whole proteins and break them down yourself in the kitchen. Not only can you utilize different cuts for menu items, you can make rich stocks from discarded bones and vegetable tops (from carrots, beets and more).
Tackle Water Conservation With Self-Service Carafes
It’s not just trendy to place a large carafe of water on the table nowadays; that carafe serves an important purpose—reducing wasted water. As more areas are hit by devastating droughts, we are reminded that water is a precious resource that must be conserved. As more cities place tougher water restrictions both on its residents and commercial businesses, you can ensure that you do your part by reducing the amount of water dumped down the drain from glasses left by guests.
In addition to only replacing water carafes once empty, instruct your bussers and servers to ask patrons if they’d like more water before pouring. Chances are some will not request any more water, particularly if they’ve just received the bill. Staff training is paramount to success here—take the time to communicate your desires to staff and help train accordingly over time.
Buy Condiments & Sugars in Bulk
Buying in bulk is better, right? This rings even truer when it comes to condiments and sugar. Save a great deal of paper, money, and a huge mess by skipping those annoying little sugar packets and opting for a sugar pourer, like this one from American Metalcraft.
You can also save yourself the cost of purchasing individual condiment bottles and opt for one large container that you can divvy up with ramekins. Not only do you ensure guests won’t over serve themselves (they can always ask for more if necessary), but it’ll save the environment on additional packaging that needs to be recycled (or more realistically, is often just thrown in the landfill). Plus, am I the only one who gets a little put off by the old, crusty ketchup that lingers on the top of used ketchup bottles left on the table?
Give Old Menus a New Life
Instead of recycling (or throwing away) those old paper menus, give them a second life as doilies! Just a few quick snips can give your presentation an extra bit of piazza when you plate mugs and sauces, soups, desserts and more. Get creative!