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

February 18, 2009

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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