How to Have a Sustainable Green Restaurant

Green Restaurant vs Non Green

green-restaurantIt is true that many diners are not certified as a green restaurant. In America, restaurants consume more electricity than all retail businesses,  around 33%. In fact, most restaurants produce an average of 50,000 pounds of waste per year. Even so, there are numerous green restaurants that are making immense changes to be more mindful of the environment.

Get an Edge on the Competition

Owning a restaurant is a highly competitive business. Did you know that it is more profitable to have a green restaurant? According to the  National Restaurant Association,  4 out of 10 customers say they dine only at green restaurants.  And the numbers are quickly increasing. Having a green restaurant is the ideal way to get an edge on the competition.

Despite the fragile state of our economy, a sustainable green restaurant can be attained.  While some say that the economy is likely to get worse before it gets better, others say the fundamentals of our economy are strong.  Nonetheless, today is the ideal time to preserve our environment for future generations.

Although restaurant changes take time and money, industries are taking small steps in the right direction in going green. Equally, there are businesses that have made a huge impact on paving noble examples for others and the environment. These companies are entirely aware of the needed changes and were raised with recycling bins and the knowledge of why global pollution is detrimental to our environment. At long last, many restaurants are finally prepared to go completely green and sustainable.

Cost of Commercial Restaurants and our Environment

Recyclable Disposables

Restaurants use more energy than any retail business around. In fact, according to Pacific Gas & Electric’s Food Service Technology Center (FSTC) they use around 5 times more energy per square foot than any other type of commercial business. By the same token, the average restaurant consumes 800,000 gallons of water, 500,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and 20,000 therms of natural gas per year.

A commercial restaurant makes a huge footprint on the ecosystem and environment.  With the calculations of the newest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon equivalents, the average restaurant produces around 490 tons of carbon dioxide per business.

Restaurants also produce the largest amount of garbage waste compared to all retail businesses. According to the Green Restaurant Association, the average restaurant produces 100,000 pounds of garbage per year and per business.

Although the restaurant business decreased in sales due to the economy it is still an opportune time to make changes. A green sustainable business that makes just a few changes would drastically reduce the damage done to the environment on a daily basis.

Green Restaurant Challenges

Converting a business into a certified green restaurant is not a task that requires just an upgrade. In fact, some of the challenges can be quite overwhelming.  Going green requires sustainable knowledge, a lot of patience, time and investment. However, creating a green restaurant can be financially affordable and easy to accomplish. Some of the challenges include the following:

  • Finding green replacements for existing restaurant equipment
  • Takes time to train staff on how to separate plastic and paper or recycle
  • Reaching a certain level status with the Green Business Bureau (GBB) can be time consuming
  • It takes an average of three months and up to a year to become a Certified Green Restaurant
  • Upgrading equipment can have high initial cost but has a major investment return on savings

Green Restaurant Tips

With many restaurants going green it is easy to get feedback and information. Today there are a lot of resources available and companies that specialize in assisting a restaurant in going green and securing the environment. A  restaurant can go green with minimal or no costs:

  • Fix all leaky fixtures
  • Recycle office supplies
  • Train staff on how to recycle
  • Buy all green cleaning products
  • Purchase bulk food instead of packaged
  • Donate surplus food to a food bank or shelter
  • Everything should be either recycled or composted
  • Purchase Eco-friendly paper towels for the bathrooms
  • Buy locally fresh produce grown without chemicals (organic)
  • Replace Styrofoam with Eco-friendly products: Styrofoam never biodegrades
  • Shut down computers, appliances and lights at the end of the day or when not in use

There are other ways a restaurant can go green and be sustainable.  If you are a business owner that likes to do the work instead of hiring out, here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Have an Eco-friendly menu
  • Use cloth or recycled napkins
  • Invest in energy-efficient appliances
  • Grow your own organic herb garden
  • Purchase to-go products that are Green
  • Purchase recycled receipts and guest checks
  • Encourage customer discounts by bringing in their own cups or napkins
  • Have preferred parking for employees  and customers with alternative fuel vehicles
  • Install flow restrictors: Flow restrictors can reduce water flow by an average of 2 gallons per minute. Upgrade dish washers, bathroom and utility sinks

If you are a new business owner and in the process of building a restaurant or purchasing equipment then there are many green initiatives to consider. To preserve the environment and be sustainable , a green restaurant can include the following:

  • Double windows and doors
  • Use renewable counter-tops
  • Reusable dishes and utensils
  • Carpet made with post-consumer waste
  • Good insulation preferably Eco-friendly
  • Buy furniture made from salvaged wood
  • Booths made of textile as opposed to plastic
  • Utilizing alternative energy like solar or wind power
  • Green appliances like stoves, dishwashers, sinks and toilets

Green Restaurant Sustainable Resources

There are initiatives that offer assistance for advanced sustainability such as state and utility company programs. These programs can provide energy audits, valuable information and sometimes funding. Advanced sustainability includes investing in Eco-friendly appliances and green remodeling.

The National Restaurant Association’s Conserve Sustainability Education Program also offers educational programs for restaurants going green. Their program helps restaurants reduce water, energy and waste. They have a user friendly checklist that contains economical practices, over 64 educational videos and around 90 verified best practices from various industries.

Conclusion | A Green Restaurant

From reducing waste to choosing sustainable furniture, a green restaurant can make a noble impact for their customers, staff, community and environment.    By making even small changes, a green restaurant can make a huge difference on environmental quality and sustainability. Ascertain the incredible benefits and preservation for our world by going green.


Here are some items that can help you green your restaurant:



Dine Green; Green your Restaurant

National Restaurant Association; ConServe

USA Today; Can Restaurants Go Green, Earn Green



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