By Mark Moeller
Earth Day was originally conceived in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson to raise awareness about air and water pollution and has grown into a global environmental movement.
Today sustainability is the buzz word. As members of the food and beverage industry, we rely on our planet to provide us with the ingredients necessary to serve our customers. It’s easy to be cynical about BIG companies’ claims that they cherish the environment, yet, in “catering” to today’s modern lifestyle how can we help create a greener, more sustainable future?
Here are some Earth Day tips to get your food and beverage establishment in line with the GREEN movement and share with your customers that you care about the Earth, and together, we can make a difference!
Using regional food, takes less energy to get to you than if it comes from halfway across the country. Help customers understand what locally sourced food looks, smells and tastes like by creating a special dish on the menu that draws attention to making a sustainable choice. Incorporate locally sourced meat, fish and produce or add a selection of local cheeses or wines to the menu and showcase the bounty of the region and show how easy it is to protect the environment and support the local economy. Not sure where to start, the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory is a great resource.
It’s no secret the food industry produces tons of waste each year. Give your kitchen a waste audit and assess strengths and weaknesses. Contact vendors and verify that you’re getting the correct orders. Inspire chefs to create specials to incorporate ingredients that are in over supply to stop waste and add variety to your menu. Are customers having trouble finishing a dish, adjust the portion size. If you still have a surplus, donate food to a local nonprofit like City Harvest in New York City or Food Rescue US in Connecticut and Table to Table in New Jersey.
Use Eco-Friendly Products
Be forward thinking and enhance relationships with patrons directly. Award-winning, Connecticut-based Yumi EcoSolutions are pioneers in removing plastics from the environment and manufacture biodegradable commercial dinnerware and sustainable products made from renewable, natural materials. Whether choosing from Yumi Eco Bamboo dinnerware line or Return®, “The Throw Away That Goes Away®” which are compostable and microwave safe, patrons will come in direct contact with your eco-conscious efforts.
The design, functionality and efficiency of your kitchen will spell the future of your business’ success. Search for contemporary kitchen equipment like Blodgett, True, Manitowoc, that is not only built to last, but is built to use a fraction of the energy of other restaurant appliances and install condensate hoods help remove hot air and steam out of your kitchen. Reduce water consumption by installing pre-rinse spray valves. Install energy efficient lightbulbs. LED, halogen incandescent, and CFL lightbulbs are a few options that use less power. Separate heating and cooling equipment, and place similar units under the same ventilation hoods. Shut off idle equipment and train staff on the importance of energy conservation.
Earth Day is about us collectively making a difference. It’s about global collaboration in an effort to keep the land we live on as clean and healthy as possible. These simple ways will help your establishment reduce its carbon footprint and, ultimately, contribute to your bottom line over time. Most importantly, all of these concepts have one thing in common: making smart, thoughtful choices in order to eat smarter.