The word ‘sustainability’ has been dancing on our conscience for well over a decade, but never before has it been more in the spotlight than now, with the Michelin Guide serving up a powerful reminder with their recent introduction of the Green Michelin Star. While most businesses already feel a sense of moral duty to operate in an environmentally sensitive way, it seems that consumers have now cottoned on with a hefty 65% of British restaurant-goers expecting to see ethically sourced food and drink options when dining out [Source: Big Hospitality].
Look at the stats:
Is it time we acknowledged that sustainable practices have shifted from luxury to necessity? With the current industry downtime, we reckon it’s time to roll up those sleeves and get to reshaping your planet-friendly efforts before the doors are flung open once more.
Keep reading for a few handy starting points...
Keep it local + seasonal
Making great use of local ingredients will not only help to support and strengthen ties with your community, suppliers and farmers, but will also have a hugely positive impact on your carbon footprint by minimising your supply chains. When sourcing your produce, prioritising seasonality will ensure you’re working with ingredients that are fresh, easily accessible and most importantly in their prime. You’ll end up with produce bursting with flavour and kudos for cutting down on waste and energy consumption. #Winning. Discover what's in season right now here.
Get creative with off-cuts
Closing the loop and achieving a zero waste business model is the ultimate goal for the eco-conscious entrepreneur and a root-to-fruit / nose-to-tail approach to cooking is a sure-fire path to success. Try opting for ingredients that naturally create less waste, or thinking up ways your commonly discarded trimmings can be repurposed into something brilliant. We’ve seen restaurants transforming fish heads into tacos (Noma), lamb fat into an indulgent Béarnaise sauce (Temper) and unused vegetables into a thriving collection of pickles (Scully). In layman's terms, the world is your (sustainably sourced) oyster. For a nudge on how to embrace produce in its entirety, the team down at St. John has produced a bible for meat cookery in The Complete Nose To Tail and for beasts of the sea you’ll be in safe hands with Josh Niland’s The Whole Fish Cookbook. Some restaurants to check out that are killing the sustainability game are Silo, Spring, and Roganic.
#3 System shifts
Beyond ingredients, there are a few other ways to improve your environmental impact through day-to-day operations.
All of those receipts, dupes and menus rack up and, while recycling is great, it’s even better to eliminate the use of paper entirely. #SaveTheTrees. Covid-19 has given us a head start to drive this change
with the evolution of digital QR code menus and digital order taking programs.
Cut down on packaging
Initiate discussions with your suppliers. Is all of the packaging used for your ingredients and delivery service completely necessary? (Those who’ve recently launched meal kits, we’re looking at you!) If yes, can you switch to 100% recyclable materials? Plastic production and consumption have detrimental effects on the environment, climate and human health, so it’s worth exploring the huge array of eco and biodegradable options available - you’re sure to find one to suit your business needs.
Check these out for inspiration:
Repurpose your leftovers
Surplus food no longer needs to go to waste, with hero apps and charities such as Karma and Too Good To Go which allow consumers to purchase any unsold dishes, and Olio and The Felix Project which will donate surplus food to your neighbours and those in need.
Written by Saskia Gunewardena