From “eat your greens” to going green

From “eat your greens” to going green

Because restaurants generate large volumes of waste, use a considerable amount of energy and exhaust natural resources, many of them are incorporating sustainable initiatives into their daily operations. Chirine Salha discusses the various ways establishments are flying the green flag.

Due to long operating hours, waste produced by restaurants is considerably high and includes: food waste, paper, plastics and glass. Therefore, the benefits of operating sustainably are plentiful.

Food for thought
Going green and using sustainable methods are long-term investments, but they also create long-term cost savings and reduce operating costs. Furthermore, millennials put greater effort into living sustainably and are redefining the restaurant experience as their eating and dining behaviors evolve. They are more likely to choose one restaurant over another based on its ability to be sustainable. In short, sustainable practices can give restaurants a competitive edge.

Beyond banning plastic straws and adding vegan options, restaurants have found novel ways of introducing environmentally friendly initiatives. These include:
1. A farm-to-fork menu and seasonal options that not only taste better but are also more abundant and readily available, minimizing the financial and environmental cost of transportation;
2. Less meat and dairy, more vegan choices, noting that the rearing of cows is of great environmental concern, considering that cattle emit large amounts of gases every year, require large areas of land and pollute ecosystems;
3. Sourcing sustainable seafood is an excellent way to introduce protein-rich items to a menu;
4. The use of eco-friendly cleaning products that do not contain toxic chemicals, especially those with microbeads that are a major cause of marine pollution;
5. Smart packaging and disposables, with a greater use of paper packaging, biodegradable meal trays and edible food packaging, such as beeswax wraps, fruit jellies and seaweed wraps;
6. Monitoring all perishables, with effective compost programs for organic trash that is disposed of daily;
7. Using reclaimed materials in restaurant design and fit outs;
8. Growing on-site gardens for herbs and selected vegetables;
9. Reducing paper usage with QR menus to avoid reprinting menus; and
10. Installing and using energy efficient equipment and installations, such as:
– Timers and sensors on lights
– Low-flow toilets and sinks
– LED lighting
– Solar technology
– Recycled rain water
– Spot air conditioners
– Occupancy sensors in freezers
– Green Web hosting companies that use renewable energy for their servers.

With increasing pressure from the “sustainability generation,” restaurants must prioritize and implement sustainable initiatives. But the challenge lies in changing the behavior and mindset of restaurant employees. This can be achieved through greater awareness about the importance of green issues, which requires training to ensure that practices that have been implemented are impactful.

Chirine Salha
Senior Consultant

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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