Each year, more stories are shared of individuals who have made big strides towards being sustainable – like the woman who has been waste free for two years, or the growing number of businesses that made the switch to solar panel roofing for energy. It can get quite overwhelming to think about when there’s barely enough time to handle the everyday chaos that’s common within a non-commercial foodservice operation. While some advances to go green are much more in depth than others, some are small, subtle changes that can save an enormous amount of energy and help achieve sustainability for a healthy environment.
- Recycle: This is a no-brainer for many products like glass bottles, empty jars, and soda cans, right? Not necessarily. What if you’re unsure if something can be recycled or not? Waste Management has created a “What Can I Recycle?” guide to help determine what you should and should not be recycling and many tips, tricks, and interesting statistics for everything in-between. For example, recycled aluminum foil could have food particles on it which decreases the likelihood that recycling centers can accept it. So, before recycling, make sure any aluminum foil is wiped clean. Same goes for plastics, glass, and cardboard.
- Invest in energy efficient appliances and lighting: Purchasing new equipment takes a fairly large commitment and room in the budget, but in the long run will save thousands of dollars in energy and electricity bills. If you aren’t able to purchase energy-efficient equipment yet, maintenance appliances regularly, check for leaks and turn off lights and equipment when they’re not being used. Just by making these small efforts, you’re conserving energy and cutting costs.
- Changing laundry habits: About 90% of the energy used to wash laundry goes to heating the water, so consider washing table cloths, napkins, and other linens in cooler water.
- Reduce food waste: According to sustainablefoodservice.com, 75% of the material in today’s landfills are recyclable or compostable, while 50-70% of the weight of a foodservice operations’ garbage consists of compostable food items. Wow! Next time produce is nearing its expiration date use it to make the “Soup of the Day,” donate it to a local shelter that can use it immediately, or donate it to local farms that can use the food to feed pigs and other animals. And if it’s well past its prime, compost it. Foodservice operators should also invest in foodservice management software to gain deeper visibility into past ordering trends. Leveraging historical data allows for more accurate forecasting and purchasing to reduce food waste.
- Plant a garden and buy local: Buying local foods and maintaining a garden for your foodservice operation that includes fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs can significantly reduce costs and save energy. Not buying local generates unnecessary transportation costs and negatively impacts the environment.
What’s your Earth Day Pledge?
If you haven’t yet made significant strides towards sustainability in your foodservice operation, try one, some, or all of these ideas to start reducing your operations’ carbon footprint now. Share your #EarthDayPledge on our Facebook page, tweet @CaterTrax, or share in the comment section below, and let us know what you’re doing to help the environment.
Blog post updated 4/22/2019.