Restaurants that practice sustainability have realized very tangible benefits, including cost savings and sales growth. Owners can decrease the cost of running their business by lowering energy consumption and minimizing waste. They can also eliminate plastics and buy locally to shrink their carbon footprint. These simple yet effective green initiatives should be promoted internally and externally as a commitment to sustainability, attracting customers and employees.
SUSTAINABLE RESTAURANTS CAN LOWER THEIR ENERGY USAGE
Often times small business owners don’t think their business can be a green business if they are producing a product that is not green, such as food. But it takes a lot of energy to run a restaurant – and lowering energy consumption is part of becoming a greener business. There’s the shipping and receiving of goods, running your facility, preparing the meals, etc. All restaurant owners know that their business demands high energy usage. There are hundreds of ways, big and small, that owners can cut down on energy consumption, saving money and protecting our shared planet at the same time.
SUSTAINABLE RESTAURANTS MOVE AWAY FROM PLASTIC AND STYROFOAM
Many restaurants have made the switch to paper products, a far more eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastics. Lately, there has been an explosion of restaurants who have made the switch from plastic to paper straws…as well as the shift from those bulky styrofoam takeout containers to less harmful cardboard takeout boxes. Not only does this show that the restaurant is environmentally responsible but it shows they care for the customer.
CUSTOMERS PREFER SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES INCLUDING COMMUNITY FARMS
Consumers today care about where the food on their plate is coming from. In recent years, restaurants have been recognizing this and have been quick to tap local food sources and market their support for local farmers. The switch to supporting local farms, rather than outsourcing and ordering large shipments of food from far away, cut down on trucking and shipping and hence cuts down on emissions that pollute our air. This switch will attract customers and they will feel fine about having to pay more for better quality, fresher food and being more eco-friendly.
By choosing to purchase your produce locally, you are killing two birds with one stone. You are showing your customers where their food came from, and building relationships with other business owners in your area. As a business owner, I’m sure you’re aware, that it is always a good idea to spend your money locally and be entrenched in your local community. Another upside about shopping at local farms is that most of them don’t use chemicals on their products and you can guarantee your patrons safer food choices.
GREEN MARKETING VS. GREENWASHING
Today’s consumers care about the planet, and where their food is coming from now more than ever. 87% of consumers reported that they are willing to switch to brands that stand for a good cause (Cone Communications, 2017); Restaurants have a window of opportunity to show that they care for the environment, and are up to date with current information. Actions speak louder than words, restaurants need to truly commit to being greener and be transparent. Customers dining out will likely see the shift from plastics to paper, your recycling, and your use of local food suppliers. Restaurants need to avoid greenwashing, i.e. saying they are green without actually being green. Some restaurants are also certifying their green business and earning a green business certification seal to display on their doors and on their websites. This shows your consumers that your company is committed enough about sustainability to take the extra steps. The bottom line, being a green restaurant is good for business.