One of the many ways you can become eco-friendly is by dining at “Green” restaurants. Just like hotels and other businesses, restaurants realize the negative impacts they have on the environment and seek change to benefit their customers, staff, and the ecosystems.
The Green Restaurants Association is a non-profit organization created to assist America’s restaurants in the transition to Green operations. It features seven categories on which it grades restaurants and grants them Green Restaurant Certification. This is a voluntary action by the businesses, but it provides them with a reputable award for operating safer, eco-friendly restaurants.
Here are the environmental criteria that make up the most eco-friendly restaurants.
Efficiency and conservation of water
The GRA claims that the average restaurant can use 300,000 gallons of water per year. Its first goal is to promote water conservation and efficiency. Landscaping, restrooms, and kitchens are analyzed to calculate consumption and efficiency including water catchment and reuse, low-flow rate of sinks and toilets, and EnergyStar efficient washing machines.
Proper waste management
In addition to the huge water consumption of the average restaurant, it also produces 150,000 pounds of garbage each year. Eco-friendly restaurants should aim to reduce waste output, increase reusable items, recycle, and compost anything left over. The ultimate environmentally friendly restaurant is a zero-waste facility. This can be accomplished from various perspectives through other conservation and reuse efforts of the restaurant.
Furnish with nature
One of the most telling signs of an environmentally conscious restaurant is its furnishings and décor. A truly eco-friendly restaurant is constructed of natural and recycled materials, and then furnished with reused or salvaged accessories. Attractive furniture can easily be made from bamboo or recycled wood, and it adds a unique element to the establishment.
Eco-friendly restaurants should aim to serve foods that contribute to sustainability measures. Part of going Green is encouraging everyone to either grow their own vegetables or support local farmers who do the same. Restaurants are considered eco-friendly especially when they serve organic and vegetarian foods. Meats and dairy should be supplied from grass-fed animals with no added hormones.
Since restaurants are the largest consumers of electricity in America’s commercial sector, it is only fitting if energy efficiency is one of the eco-friendly goals. Green restaurants should have the goal of becoming carbon neutral so that they use only sustainable sources of energy. Beginning this process requires offsetting energy usage, generating on-site renewable sources of energy, and using more energy- efficient equipment.
Bio-based materials and recycling
Restaurants are encouraged to use bio-based materials, derived from living matter, or recycled materials in providing new products. Examples of this include eliminating disposables such as napkins, dishes and utensils, and takeout containers, and then replacing them with reusable ones.
Reduction of chemicals and pollutants
Restaurants that show reduction in chemical use and pollution receive positive reviews from consumers and eco-enthusiasts alike. These reductions contribute greatly to decreased carbon emissions, polluted air and waterways, and soil degradation. Also taken into consideration are its proximity to public transportation locations and parking in regard to pollution, and limited use of bleached products or paints not made from natural resources.
Additionally as a consumer other things you can look at include the establishment’s decorations to see if they are made from antique items that would otherwise be thrown away or from recycled. Pay attention to see if biodegradable materials; items such as utensils and straws are utilized. Some eco-friendly restaurants are keen on the fine details and print their menus on recycled paper using environmentally friendly inks. See if the menu states how much of each dish is organic. Eco-friendly restaurants that provide delivery services should supply these by foot, bicycle, or low emission vehicles.
When identifying eco-friendly restaurants to patronize, you will want to take the above criteria into consideration. Because these set the standards for “Green” restaurants, they should also be considered when you make your dining choice. Perhaps your favorite restaurant can go completely “Green” and serve healthy, environmentally friendly dishes in an all-natural establishment. Though it is hard to come by, a LEED-certified restaurant is the prime example of an eco-friendly restaurant. Why not make it your goal to find the local restaurants that are taking the initiatives to become more eco-friendly and patronize them as your restaurant of choice?