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5 Things you can do right now to reduce your environmental impact

publication date: Mar 15, 2012
author/source: Janine Bolton
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Environmentally Accountable Foodservice

5 Things you can do right now to reduce your environmental impact

 There are many reasons to “go green” these days: savings in operating costs, reducing waste, improving public image, and of course, reducing your impact on the environment. Although many restauranteurs recognize the value in making this transition, taking the first step can seem daunting, and many people just don’t know where to start.  

Reducing your environmental impact doesn’t have to be a complicated or costly undertaking. Any improvement you make is a step towards the goal of becoming more sustainable. Many actions that appear small will actually amount to large environmental and financial savings through reductions in energy, water, and food waste. There are many things a foodservice operator can do that are easy and don’t require a large financial investment.

 Like any big goal, becoming greener is best approached in small, manageable steps. Pick one thing to change at a time, and once you see how easy it can be, you’ll be more inclined to take the next step. Here are a few easy places to start:

Inspect all faucets, pipes and toilets for leaks.
Leaky faucets, pipes and toilets are easily overlooked but can quickly add up to thousands of gallons of wasted water and energy. Did you know, a leaky faucet dripping once per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water a year, and a leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water a day! Put a reminder in your calendar to check for leaks and running water regularly, and repair as needed. 

Source and purchase sustainable seafood.
Our oceans and sea life have taken  tremendous abuse over the past 50 years. Overfishing, climate change, and toxic substances are just a few of the issues threatening our oceans. National and international programs such as Ocean Wise, SeaChoice and Seafood Watch work to protect endangered species and make it easy for food purchasers to make seafood choices that are less harmful to the environment and our ecosystem.

Stop the Styrofoam.
Polystyrene, or “styrofoam”, is an extremely harmful substance. Petrolium and many toxic substances are used in the production of styrofoam, which are released into the atmosphere over time. Styrofoam also doesn’t break down, and will remain in landfills for thousands of years. Many cities and counties have begun to ban styrofoam, and there are plenty of less harmful packaging alternatives available today. Look for products made from 100% recycled material instead.

Turn off the lights.
One of the easiest ways to save on you energy bills is to turn off the lights when they are not in use or not needed. If your establishment is graced with lots of windows and natural light, take advantage of this by dimming lights during bright days, or turning the lights off completely. It’s important to communicate this with your staff. A “lights off” policy is no good if no one is following it. Post signs around your facility reminding staff about your plan to save energy by turning off lights when not in use.

Ditch the bottled water and serve tap water only by request.
Tap water is making a comeback, and for good reason. Bottled water is an energy intensive, wasteful product. In the U.S. alone, 1.5 million barrels of oil are consumed in making plastic water bottles. On top of this, most of the 30 billion bottles sold each year are not recycled and end up in landfills. If you prefer to have filtered water for your customers, there are on site water filtration systems that reduce the need for plastic bottles and reduce the energy needed to bottle, transport, chill and store all that water. To help conserve even more water, instruct your staff to serve water by request.

Janine Bolton – President & Founder
Twitter – @LEAF_Canada
LinkedIn – http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/janine-bolton/9/150/970


Janine Bolton is President of LEAF (Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice), a nation-wide organization that is dedicated to helping the foodservice industry reduce its environmental impact, and makes it easy for diners to identify truly "green" restaurants with third-party certification. Janine and her LEAF team are blazing a green trail in the Canadian Foodservice Industry. Janine is originally from Vancouver Island, B.C., and currently resides in Calgary, Alberta, where she is involved with various sustainability initiatives. Janine holds a B.Sc. in Nutritional Science from the University of Alberta, is a Registered Dietitian and a member of the College of Dietitians of Alberta.

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