Tag Archives: eco-friendly

Sustainable Restaurant Practices Outside the Kitchen

Our recent post, Environmental Sustainability Inside the Kitchen, outlined tried and true techniques for reducing your carbon footprint inside the fast-paced commercial kitchen environment. This post seeks to further elaborate on practices restaurants can readily embrace to continue sustainable efforts outside of the kitchen.

Sustainable practices are not only necessary for the well-being of the planet, but they’re also in demand. Nielsen reports that 75% of the millennial generation, and more than 50% of Baby Boomers, are willing to pay more for products and services that make a positive impact on the environment. From the dining room to the restroom and beyond, these options are easy to incorporate into day-to-day operations.

Sustainability in the Dining Room

Here are just a few ways your foodservice can enhance its environmental preservation efforts in the dining room.

Use recyclable or reusable cutlery and utensils.

Say no to single-use products such as plastic dinnerware, flatware or to-go containers. If your restaurant currently relies on single-use items, switch to products that can be recycled or composted. Most plastics won’t decompose in a landfill. Fortunately, some manufacturers, like Packnwood, have started making eco-friendly single-use items that are biodegradable.

Phase out straws.

It’s estimated that every day in America, consumers plow through more than 500 million straws! Most plastic straws are not heavy enough to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter, and too many end up polluting the ocean and harming marine life. Instead of offering every customer a straw, implement a new policy that only grants straws upon request. You may be surprised by how fewer straws you hand out.

PackNWood 210CHP19 Eco Straws

PackNWood Eco Straws, Central Model #18M-441, are made out of paper instead of plastic and are biodegradable and compostable!

Opt for cloth over paper.

Paper napkins are another popular single-use item that can be avoided, especially in sit-down establishments. Cloth napkins are washable and can be reused for years!

Replace old incandescent lights with more efficient ones.

Incandescent lights are not energy efficient by any stretch of the imagination. They operate based on heat, a piece of wire shielded by a glass enclosure that passes along an electrical current that gets so hot that light radiates. What does this mean in terms of energy efficiency? Less than 5% of the energy used is converted into visible light.LED light

LED lights (an acronym for Light Emitting Diodes), on the other hand, are a much better, sustainability-promoting solution. Instead of operating on heat, LED bulbs use diodes, a semiconductor device, to pass on the electrical current to produce the same lumens as incandescent bulbs while using a mere 10-20% of the energy. A lot of science talk, we know. Bottom line, they save energy, lowering utility costs and are a much more sustainable alternative. Another pro – they can last for years without needing to be replaced!

Print menus on recycled paper.

This is a very simple, yet effective way to make use of what would otherwise be trash while showcasing your commitment to helping the planet.

Sustainability in the Restrooms

In addition to the dining room setting, restrooms are another common area in restaurants where efficiencies can be implemented to reduce your carbon footprint.

Replace paper towels with energy efficient hand dryers.

It’s estimated that we use 13 billion pounds of paper towels every year in the United States alone! Replacing paper towels with an energy efficient hand dryer is a sure-fire way to enhance sustainability. Many hand dryer manufacturers – such as Excel Dryer, manufacturer of the popular Excel Xlerator dryers – make both a standard and eco-friendly line of dryers, so it’s in your best interest to do a little research on each model’s energy consumption first. For more information on hand dryers, check out our buying guide here.

This video illustrates the difference between standard and eco-friendly hand dryers:

Offer hand towels.

If you’re looking for another alternative besides installing hand dryers, change out the trash can for a laundry hamper and replace disposable paper towels with hand towels.

Install motion-sensors for lights and fans.

This will ensure energy is only being used when people are in the restroom. Lights and fans left on all day substantially increase energy consumption and utility costs.

Additional Sustainable Enhancements

Add some plants!

Not only do they add some extra aesthetic appeal, but plants absorb carbon dioxide, keeping the air clean. Certain plants are better for indoor spaces, such as the areca plant, snake plant (also referred to as mother-in-law’s tongue) or money plant. Whether you decide to add some in the corner of your restaurant or as a centerpiece on the table, they will purify the air and detoxify the space.


This relatively new term implies the reuse of a product for a different purpose. Some creative examples include:

  • Repurposing empty bottles to make tabletop vases or decor
  • Creating pet toys out of branded items – like old employee t-shirts – to donate to shelters instead of just throwing away

Company Car

If your business caters and uses a company vehicle to do so, invest in an eco-friendly car! Look for features like a lightweight design, high gas mileage, hybrid or electric mode, efficient air filtration systems, etc.

When it comes to implementing environmental sustainability within your restaurant, there are no limits. The more creative you allow yourself to be, the more options you’ll find. Don’t forget to share your efforts with your community to let your valued guests know you’re committed to reducing your carbon footprint! Change doesn’t happen overnight, but with increased awareness and continual small changes, we can all make a difference!

Image from MorgueFile

Central’s Week in Brief: April 22, 2011

Since today is Earth Day, we thought it would be helpful to wrap up the week with a list of five things to do today (or any other day of the year) that will help the environment.  We’re especially fond of #5!

1) Visit Good Guide’s website to find out what products are the most environmentally friendly.  They even have a free iPhone app to use while shopping.   Just scan the barcodes of food and household products, to see the rating on how environmentally responsible the items are on a scale of one to 10.

2) Why not pamper yourself while saving the Earth?  Book a night (or even a weekend) at an environmentally friendly resort and enjoy rooms and restaurants in green style.

3)  Start a garden re-using common items.  This will not keep extra waste out of landfills, but will also give you some tasty, super-local food to use in your dishes.

4) Go paper free!  With all of the technology at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to abstain from using paper for one day.  Use e-mail, save and share forms or sign up for paperless billing (all of which can be kept in handy electronic folders) and you can save a few trees while making your life a little more organized.

5)  Download Central’s brand new Whitepaper, How to Make Your Restaurant Environmentally Friendly, to learn all about what to do to make your restaurant beneficial not just to customers, but also the planet! 

Top 10 Ways Central Can Help Your Cafeteria Go Green

Here are 10 ways Central can help you make your school cafeteria more eco-friendly!

1.       Napkin Dispensers: Leaving out a pile of napkins invites students to grab more than they need.  By purchasing a napkin dispenser, you will cut down on the amount of napkins your students will take—and they come in a variety of types, enabling you to choose one that best fits your cafeteria.

2.       Dry Erase/Chalkboard: Instead of printing out menus, whether it’s weekly or monthly, think about using a dry erase or chalkboard instead.  This will cut down on the paper you use and can make for a fun project at the beginning of everyday! Also, parents appreciate having menus online—which is a great way to post a monthly view.

3.       Compartment Cafeteria Trays: If you’re still using disposal trays, consider purchasing compartment trays.  They come in a variety of types from ABS and polypropylene to melamine and co-polymer.  Central has put together a compartment tray buying guide here, enabling you to find the best type of tray to fit your school.

4.       CREW 44” Conveyor Dishwasher: Jackson’s Crew 44” Conveyor dishwasher has the lowest water use of any conveyor in the industry!  This is an easy way to decrease water use in schools.  (Also, as a helpful hint, this conveyor dishwasher is under the Central Edge—which means along with the dishwasher you can get a pair of accent panels at no additional cost to you.  Check out the product for more information).

5.       Flatware: Similar to the trays, using disposable flatware can be very wasteful.  Consider using flatware, perhaps the 18/0 medium weight.

6.       Takeout Food Containers: While these might be best for untraditional cafeteria settings, like a university food court, G.E.T Enterprises has Eco-Takeouts™ Food Containers which are very eco-friendly and have a completely reusable design that reduces the waste produced and re-stocking costs from using disposable takeout containers.

7.       Recycling Containers: This was an obvious no-brainer to include!  But if you haven’t considered recycling at your school, it’s time to start.  Central has a variety of recycling containers to choose from.  And by getting the students to become involved with recycling at school, you might also get them to encourage parents to recycle at home as well.

8.       Towels: While it’s much easier to grab a paper towel to wipe up a mess, try using a towel instead. They come in a variety of shapes, materials and sizes.

9.       Hand Dryer: Piggy-backing off purchasing towels for messes, consider installing a hand dryer next to your sinks for employees and students to use after washing their hands, dishes, etc. to cut down on the use of paper towels. There are many types of hand dryers and purchasing one will save energy and HVAC expenses.

10.   Energy Star: When purchasing equipment, keep an eye out for Energy Star Rated items. These items use less energy and save money.  Click here to learn more about Energy Star products.