There are plenty of green business practices restaurant owners can use in daily operations. The American diet and factory farming in particular take a huge toll on the environment. Add that to disposable paper products and wasted food to see the huge impact turning a restaurant into a green business can make a change for the better.
Decreased pesticide use is just one reason serving organic foods in a restaurant can help the environment. Run off from factory farming is another. Refusing to patronize factory farms by selling vegan food sends them a message. Taking a stand for green business practices is the quickest way to encourage change.
Eating foods grown locally isn't about selfishness or exclusion. This green business practice does help local growers but there is much more of a benefit. Transportation of locally available food from one place to another is costly and a waste of resources. It also causes environmental pollution due to the use of large transport vehicles.
Green cleaning supplies
Many people are unaware there are non-toxic cleaners that kill germs just as well as their chemical alternatives. Vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda are among the best cleaners available. The added benefit to using these green cleaners is the cost.
Take out containers
Disposables used for restaurant take out add to the huge throw away product problem. It's possible to purchase biodegradable take out containers and cups for restaurant use. Customers often take home uneaten food only to throw it away later. Consider giving the option of half portions at a reduced cost as a green business practice.
Cloth napkins / No straws
It may not be possible to eliminate straws altogether but consider giving them out only by request as a green business practice. Unused straws left on the table get thrown away right along with the used ones for sanitary reasons. Cloth napkins can be washed and used again, rather than thrown away like their paper counterparts.
Compost bin / Recycled fryer oil
Restaurant food byproducts that are normally thrown away can be recycled in a green business. Keep a special container for coffee grounds, egg shells, and vegetable scraps for composting. Donate these scraps to local organic farms. Green businesses making bio-diesel fuel will be happy to take leftover vegetable based fryer oil off your hands.
This green business idea is far from new but seldom utilized in the restaurant business. Be sure employees are making good use of recycling bins. Why not share recycling money? Split the profit for recycling glass, aluminum and paper products on a regular basis. Money is a great motivator for employees in any business.
Turn it off
A restaurant business uses many appliances, both large and small. Green business practices should always include sensible use of power for those appliances. Make large batches to save on oven usage whenever possible. Don't run the dishwasher until it's full to capacity. Keep all appliances turned off when not in use.
Paper is a huge waste of resources in the form of trees. Not only that but the trash from fliers and other paper adds to landfills. Advertise with Internet coupons instead. People print only the ones they will use. Consider other non paper ads such as billboards and restaurant special boards as green business practices that save money too.
This article was previously published by this author on Yahoo!, then updated and revised for Examiner.