Today sustainability has become a revolution. It is not just a fad but an inclusive and immersing lifestyle shift that economies are adapting to. An industry that urgently requires to absorb this habit is food and hospitality. Here are a few ways of how restaurant businesses can make an impact by embracing sustainable practices.
From bricks and concrete to chairs and tables everything plays a part in the efficient running of a restaurant. Choosing ethical aesthetics is one such idea, which is appealing to both eyes and the environment. For instance, furniture made of wood or metal is a high contender as opposed to plastic or fibre seating. The lighting plays a key role in setting the ambience and LEDs (light emitting diodes) and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) are the perfect replacement to regular incandescent bulbs. Another replacement that can make a significant impact towards sustainability is the use of ceramic, steel, wood, cork and other biodegradable products for cutlery as opposed to, say, melamine. This includes plates, glasses, straws, stirrers, dishes and coasters.
Technology is a saviour when it comes to working towards reducing carbon footprints in many ways. An effective EMS (Energy Management System) is useful in keeping the daily operations of a restaurant at check and allowing real-time tracking of energy consumption in the premises. Another way is to convert traditional pen and paper operations into a digital system such as tablets for menus and taking orders, paperless billing systems, and so on.
Certain food establishments in Bangalore provide disposable, single-use paper mats. Probably done to reduce the task of cleaning up dirty linen, these are an utter waste. Likewise, using single sheet pamphlets as the menu only adds up the paper waste that can easily be avoided. Customised plastic bottled water is another one such example that only adds vanity and nothing more. Additionally, paper use can also be reduced further with the use of cloth napkins instead of tissues.
In continuation of the above, using reusable and recycled alternatives for takeaway packaging is highly recommended. A well-known ice cream parlour in the city recently announced that they would donate INR10 to CUPA Bangalore (a non-profit NGO that provides rescue and relief to thousands of injured, ill and needy street animals) for every takeaway order where the customer brought their own container! Campaigns such as these create a hugely positive impression in the community, thereby also building more respect and trust in the business.
What sort of food is being produced and served to customers? What sort of food materials is being purchased for use in the venture? Are you buying from farmers who are exploited? Is the food sourced GMOs? Are the sauces prepared in-house or are they processed? Are raw materials and food products imported or are they locally grown? Being watchful of these factors can help reduce any harmful impacts on the environment and economy. Making the right choices in purchasing such as produce sourced directly from farmers and packaging materials that are eco-friendly, helps build an organic ecosystem within the business, appeasing both the community and the environment.
According to a study by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN) – Food, Wastage Footprint – Impacts on Natural Resources, the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten is estimated at 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases. The report says that “food wastage unduly compounds the negative externalities that mono-cropping and agriculture expansion into wild areas create on biodiversity loss, including mammals, birds, fish and amphibians.” So rather than throwing the unused and leftover food, restaurants can create a compost bin. This helps both the environment at large and also a vegetable garden if the management may have one on their premises to improve plant growth.