Genevieve G.

Restaurateurs Continue to Support The 4 R’s of Sustainability: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Repurpose

by Genevieve G. on February 17, 2012

Restaurants continue to go green, as they continuously find ways to make use of recyclable and repurposed materials.

We’ve discussed some months back (in our article Restaurants Go Green how the National Restaurant Association encourages America’s restaurants to think of ways to lower their impact on our natural environment and at the same time cut-back on operational expenses. Restaurants responded in varied ways—Subway came up with eco-locations, while many restaurant chefs, in their smart-looking chef pants, started to source out their local ingredients from community gardens.

The NRA’s Conserve Sustainability Education Program continue to promote the idea of composting and recycling among restaurants, giving them helpful pointers in how to do so.

“Restaurant operators who are interested to integrate more creative eco-friendly ways in their companies can easily do so efficiently, and do not even need to spend a lot of money,” said Christopher Moyer, subject matter expert of NRA’s sustainability program. “On top of what we have always known as the 3 R’s of sustainability—reuse, reduce, recycle—there’s now a fourth one: repurpose. “

Some of these repurposed materials include empty bottles of beer that have been turned into vases or centerpieces; 5-gallon pickle buckets, which restaurant chefs in their cool chef pants discard, are converted into compost and waste containers; beat-up, used, old jeans utilized as wall insulators; old wine bottles made into chandeliers; pallets used as plant boxes, and so much more.

And restaurants now continue to find ways to widen their recycling possibilities. Houlihan’s Restaurants, for instance, takes part in a sustainability program called ReCork—wine bottles converted into useful items like shoe soles. Kapow, one of Florida’s sustainable casual restaurants, plans to build their other locations using woods that were salvaged and recovered from other buildings, including barns.

Starbucks have gone all out as they opened a location in Tukwila, Washington that is made of ship cargo containers. As one of their corporate architects said, Starbuck’s management wanted to think outside of the box, finding ways to use common elements that are destined to go to the landfill, and they got inspired seeing a shipyard from their South Seattle headquarters. Ship cargo containers are typically used for twenty years before they are scrapped. One of the chain’s more conventional units in Seattle has a coffee bar built from teak, walnut and oak woods that were retrieved from torn-down structures in their area. Many of the chain’s units also continuously try to recycle at least one item that they regularly use in their daily operations, like plastic milk containers. They involve their customers, too, encouraging them to reuse old coffee grounds and use it as garden fertilizers.

Going sustainable is indeed one of the most gallant and intelligent direction that a restaurant can go—helping out the environment, lessening operational costs, and attracting more customers who are more than willing to support sustainable businesses.

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