Telltale Signs Of A Green Restaurant

In the restaurant trade, the most important colour right now is green, and sustainable dining is no longer a dream but the reality of thousands of restaurants that do their utmost to cut waste, lower carbon emissions and make the most of what they use.

Because so many restaurants are opting to try and reduce what can often be quite wasteful habits, it can sometimes be hard to tell who is truly practising what they preach.

Finding a truly green restaurant means looking at the little details from the source of wholesale aprons the staff wear to the size and format of the menus. This is why awards such as Michelin’s Green Star and the SRA Food Made Good Standard exist.

This is far from an exhaustive list, but here are some signs of a dining establishment that cares about the environment.

Look At The Menu Size

One of the most common pieces of advice given to restaurants, particularly in television shows such as Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares is the importance of a simple but effective menu.

Whilst Gordon cared more about food quality than sustainability, the principle still endures, as the larger the menu and the bigger the portions on the plate, the more food waste is likely to be generated through spoilage.

Shorter menus, seasonal specials and restaurants with set options can significantly reduce the waste in the kitchen, as does reducing the volume of accoutrements such as salad garnishes and carbs such as rice or chips.

The benefits for restaurants and diners alike are clear, as a smaller menu allows for greater refinement and sophistication of the menu items that are there, as well as fewer wasted portions.

As well as the menu size, check if the menu is supplied digitally or as a classic chalkboard arrangement, as this is a sign of commitment to reducing carbon costs.

Check The Rules On Absent Diners

One careful balancing act all popular restaurants inevitably have to navigate is concerning people who book a table and then ultimately fail to show up.

It can be frustrating and lead to precarious finances, but it is also a cause of wasted fresh ingredients.

If a restaurant has a harsher policy on people who book, such as requiring a deposit or opening a table within a few minutes of a no-show, this could be a sign of taking food waste seriously.

Checking The Little Details

Many, if not most restaurants focus on the bigger details, often offering carbon offsets, trying to buy local when possible and following farm-to-fork initiatives, but green restaurants often focus on much smaller details to minimise the carbon cost of supplies you may not expect.

For example, some restaurants no longer have a physical menu, instead showing it on a tablet or via a mobile phone QR code, some no longer supply single-use disposable napkins and others have stopped using space heaters outside.

Others still use reclaimed materials to construct their dining space, such as restaurants built from shipping containers, tables made from recycled planks and wooden pallets, as well as building everything with an eye for it to be reused and recycled.

August 16, 2023 — Jake Blakey