Sustainability is a hot topic right now, in the restaurant industry and beyond. Steps towards a more sustainable business can take many forms but essentially this means reducing the negative impact that we have on the world around us environmentally, socially and health-wise.
Industrial food production, the carbon footprint of imported ingredients, factory farming and waste are all serious concerns for those with an interest in sustainability. So, how do you start making your business more supportive of the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare?
Use seasonal, local food
Redcuce your carbon footprint by cooking with what’s on your doorstep and available at the time you want to create with it. If you buy local and seasonal, you’re also supporting local suppliers and small businesses. You might need to be more flexible and creative to cook with what you have, rather than what you want, but the results can be spectacular. In fact this has become somewhat of a trend for some of the world’s best restaurants - locate your local food markets, growers and producers and build your menu around what’s on offer.
Use suppliers who can give you concrete information about where their product has come from, how it was grown or made and who was involved in the process of production. Every supplier should be able to provide this information. Support those who are ethical, sustainable and fair and avoid those compromising animal welfare or human rights for the sake of commerce.
Think beyond the menu
Restaurants have more impact on sustainability than just what appears on the plate. When it comes to interior design, for example, rather than buying brand new and/or importing from overseas, use a local craftsperson or use reclaimed materials. Think about the energy efficiency of your space – are you creating the atmosphere you want in the most efficient way? Could anything be switched off overnight? Are there areas of the restaurant that don’t need to be lit 24/7?
Minimise your waste
Recycle wood, glass, plastic and cardboard and return as much packaging as possible to suppliers for reuse. Ask suppliers not to send anything in packaging you can’t recycle. Make sure you plan your purchases so that food is always used before it goes out of date and get creative with what you might normally throw away.
Improving sustainability is all about starting small. If you manage just a few of the above in the first year then the impact you could make is huge.