Why Your Restaurant Should Go Green

Farm to Table. Organic. Local. Annndd…GREEN!

Unfortunately, nowadays these terms to describe environmentally or otherwise conscious restaurants almost seem to have lost their meaning. Everyone is hitching their wagon to this stuff!

But the truth is that being environmentally conscious does matter for restaurants and more restaurants should embrace this approach to business.

Our industry isn’t inherently green

We’re an industry that generates an astounding amount of paper, water, and food waste each year. In fact, according to the Pacific Gas & Electric's Food Service Technology Center, restaurants use almost five times more energy per square foot than any other type of commercial building.  Additionally, nearly 80% of the $10 billion dollars that the commercial food service sector spends annually for its energy use is lost in inefficient food cooking, holding and storage, says PG&E's tech division.

There’s no way around it if you’re going with the standard methods of cooking, serving, cleaning, and operations. This is why as an organization you have to actively seek out ways to be environmentally conscious. Some simple suggestions include:

  • Switch from regular menus to recycled paper menus.

  • Place low-flow valves in the sprayers that pre-rinse dishes. This can save a restaurant 73,000 gallons of water a year.

Consumers care...or do they?

One of the biggest concerns about going green are the perceived increased costs. Will customers pay more for “green” restaurants? This parody video about shopping at organic foods purveyor Whole Foods and buying six items for $80 speaks that conundrum.

While a passionate minority of conscious consumers are certainly willing to pay a premium for an environmentally-thoughtful restaurant, it will still be more about the cost, taste and dining experience for most. But going green doesn’t have to mean going into the red. Here are some ways that going green can actually save you cash and prevent you from raising menu prices:

  • Don’t use straws. They’re plastic - our landfills don’t need ‘em, customers don’t really need ‘em, and that’s money you don’t need to spend. Obviously, straws alone are a very simple example and a bit of a euphemism, but what other wasteful products can your restaurants go without or replace with reusable alternatives? Little costs, across the scale of many stores, add up big time.

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with a compact fluorescent bulbs. If just 10% of restaurants did this, the energy savings would be $2.8 million.

  • Use digital logbooks like Squadle for your compliance reporting instead of traditional logbooks. First, think about how much paper and many trees that would save. We discovered that one customer with 60 locations was wasting three tons of paper each year thanks to paper logbooks. That's huge. Second, think about how this slashed reporting time in half for our customer Keystone Restaurant Group, freeing their managers up to focus on customers and sales.

Hopefully these examples will get help you reconsider what it means to go green. It’s not just a buzzword and it doesn’t necessarily mean increased costs for your business. It is in fact hugely important, and it can actually save you money and help you be more productive as a restaurant.