Going GREEN! Good for Business, good for the Community and good for the Soul

recycling1Going green has become one of the more popular movements as of late. Its a catch phrase used by so many for so many different things. Environmentalists have been screaming from the rooftops for years but it has only become a major priority in the mainstream population in the last couple of years. Political policies seem to define the movement but individual acts are what truly have made the biggest impact to date. That is why I have decided to create a detailed and comprehensive green policy for our company. The hospitality sector has many opportunities to improve. There are a tremendous amount of challenges that face an operator. Balancing your own personal desires and goals with the economic realities can be tricky. What needs to happen is a joint effort on everybody’s part to contribute. We as operators should start moving towards change and ask our customers to do so as well. Granted, that sounds easier than it really is but we need to start somewhere. By creating a policy and strategy we can try and set goals and time lines for our goals. Change won’t happen overnight but it can and will happen if people want it to happen. A perfect illustration of this is what CBC’s The Hour achieved with their One Million Acts of Green initiative. I am a firm believer that incorporating policies in our economic plan is the only way to sustain the efforts long term. Obviously I believe that any change made on a personal level and done in our everyday lives is a step in the right direction but when companies adopt changes than steps turn into strides. We already do the basics at BKB. We recycle, we have reduced waste to phenomenal levels and try to conserve energy at every turn. That’s simply not enough. I recently visited friends in Guelph and was amazed to see that many if not most of the local restaurants have moved away from using traditional take out containers. That is probably my biggest challenge. How do we balance the economic reality with the needs of the customers all the while trying to reduce our environmental impact? This is where I need help. From customers, other restaurant owners, and suppliers. If more and more restaurants only offered take out in reusable containers that the customer provided than it would become the norm. Sometimes we can look to the larger corporations for leadership in these scenarios. Starbucks, for example, offers a discount for customers who provide their own coffee mug as an alternative to using a paper cup. Its a lot easier for a large corporation to implement strategies like that but we need to ride the new popularity of the green movement and use it to our advantage. Basically its cool to be green so why not move to be more green. Maybe I can elicit the help of other restaurant owners and start a larger initiative and get more people aware of our efforts as well as getting customers to be willing participants. How can we achieve all this? One step at a time. I will keep you posted on our efforts and hopefully recruit many of you to help by participating in our Project Green. As well I will be trying to get more and more input from other restaurants as well as suppliers who may want to participate and help turn their own operations greener. If this grows large enough they may be swayed by the amount of publicity something like this may garner. Some areas or ideas that I want to look into are the following…..

– minimizing take out containers and asking customers to bring in their own containers

– charging a surcharge for take out containers and using the extra revenue to buy more expensive biodegradable containers

– separating all food refuse and collecting it for local gardening groups for use as compost

– creating larger buying groups of restaurants to help reduce the extra cost of better take out containers

– making decisions on food choices and suppliers based on local availability therefore reducing the necessity for transport

– using earth friendly cleaning products (already 1/2 way there)

These are simply a few ideas that I have come up with but I am asking that anyone with any suggestions please comment here and hopefully we can use this medium to help initiate our very own community driven One Million Acts of Green. I will have regular postings updating our progress as well as constant pleas for input and help. After all, I can only incorporate ideas that you, the customer, see as reasonable.

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12 Responses to Going GREEN! Good for Business, good for the Community and good for the Soul

  1. darren says:

    I wonder if you could buy some sort of paper cups instead of the plastic for the soft drinks? I always feel bad throwing them out after. I’m usually given a lid too when I’m eating in and not taking out, but I usually leave it on the counter. Other than that I’m not sure what else since I haven’t ordered take out.

  2. Rino says:

    i’m getting glassware for the drinks. no more plastic or paper for people staying in.

  3. darren says:

    Great Rino, I was going to suggest that too. Even better. : )

  4. merry ellen says:

    Rino,
    these are all excellent initiatives which I support wholly – there are real family style elements to the way you approach this – especially the compost for local garden groups; black gold collection feeds the earth in the right way. your leadership will make a difference

    had some soup at the skating party the other night – delish!

    hope to get to visit you soon at the bkb,
    MESM

  5. Jhoan B-L says:

    This is a great idea! I love the idea of bringing your own container. Why not brand yourself at the same time. Get reusable containers with your logo or even a die cut sticker.If you want to get the craft community involved – I saw these washable, reusable sandwich bags online… your customers can buy them off of you and when they use them, you can offer a discount. Here’s a sample, but there are a lot of better patterns online… http://tinyurl.com/aljyg9

    Phog got top 10!!! whooo hooo!

  6. Rino says:

    we have already sourced out soup containers with the ability to print our logo on them. at this point its just a matter of finances. its a major financial commitment all at once. thanks for the link for the sandwich bags. these are ideas we’ve been mulling over for a while but need time to factor them in to the bigger picture.

  7. Great ideas and glad you’re passionate about it. Don’t know how much room you have out back but worm composting is fast and cheap and lots of Toronto restaurants are doing that. You could then donate the compost (or even sell it to cover other green costs). I think encouraging BYOC is awesome! Most of us are carrying around those reuseable bags and if I was reminded I would throw a tupperware container in there too.

    There are now plastic-like disposable cups and mugs that are made from corn oil and can be composted. There are compostable paper-like cups now too. I hope some of them aren’t too cost-prohibitive.

  8. ljones says:

    Heu Rino,

    The thing that strikes me about these initiatives is the extra work and cost to the restaurant. I know the extra time @ home involved to seperate items/recycle
    /compost/drop off. And also I can appreciate the cost of green packaging.
    These practices add value to the Restaurant that takes them on. And the public needs to know whose taking the extra care. So they can make an informed choice when eating out.

    good on you BKB.

  9. Rino says:

    there is a lot of work and cost involved and thats why I have made this a work in progress and used the term policy so it can stay with the company as long as the company exists. it all has to make economic sense as well. for that we need to include other restaurants to help change the mindset and as well need the customers to be willing participants and do their part.

  10. Anita Kaiser says:

    Awesome ideas! I love the worm compposting idea that resturants in TO are doing. It’s actually something that I am trying to bring into the store (www.shoepco.ca) since I loved mine when I lived in TO and I have lots of organic waste while working that I hate to pitch. Also just wanted to add that today we just received a new shipment of the to-go-ware tiffen boxes that fit right into the bring you own band wagon.

  11. jgalli says:

    I know Taloola Cafe has compostable bags and take-out containers. You can try ecoproducts.com- but i can’t say what a comparable cost would be to what you are paying now.

    If you want to look at some more fun/green things try the cupcooley by fusionbrands- i haven’t used a paper coffee sleeve since before christmas when i got mine.

  12. so pleased to hear a refreshing green outlook in the Windsor restaurant community! no suggestions at this point but will keep my eye out =)

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