Posted 1 year ago by Jane Sea

8 Ways to Go Green and Minimize Your Restaurant Overhead Costs6 min read

Running a restaurant isn’t easy. There is a myriad of details to keep in order as well as a cadre of customers to attend to, day and night. In addition, restaurant owners should pay attention to how much their business consumes and strive to make their restaurant as green as possible in order to attract new customers and lower overhead costs.

According to the Green Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry is the largest consumer of electricity in the retail sector. Moreover, it generates more than 100,000 pounds of garbage per year and uses an average of 300,000 gallons of water a year.

Finding a way to become more ecofriendly is therefore a win-win for restaurants that are operating on a tight budget and want more cash flow to update, overhaul, or enhance their business operations. Try these tips to help your restaurant step into a green environment and save on expenses at the same time.


1.    Recycle Everything

One of the easiest ways to make your restaurant environmentally-friendly is to think about what you can and can’t recycle. When it comes right down to it, almost everything that your restaurant uses and produces can be recycled.

However, you need to get your waitstaff, bartenders, cooks, and other staff onboard with your recycling program and make it as easy as possible for them to participate even when you are in the weeds with customers.

Start by adding recycling bins everywhere your staff works. The easier it is for them to use them while they are busy with customers, the more apt they will be to buy-in and recycle. Sit down with your staff and let it be known that they need to help your restaurant go green and recycling is the first step in that process.

Keep in mind these items that can be recycled as you devise a plan to be environmentally-conscious at your restaurant.

  • Metal cans
  • Plastic containers
  • Paper products
  • Glass bottles and jars

Table with food containers


2.    Greenify the Front of the House

The front of your restaurant can easily go green, which can help to impress your customers with your environmentally-friendly attitude. Add low-flush toilets to keep your water use to a minimum and think about your lighting sources.

Use LED lights to reduce your energy footprint and infuse greenery to not only spice up the look of your restaurant but to help purify the air. These small changes are cost-effective and can really make a difference in your overhead costs.


3.    Buy Organic, Buy Local

Another way that you can make your restaurant even greener is with the food that you serve. Sure, it is easy to buy fresh produce from your regular distributor, but with a little bit of effort, you can greenify the dishes that you serve, which will make your menu even more enticing.

Source local fruits and vegetables to make the meals that your customers love with a fresher and cleaner taste. This is a great selling point for your restaurant, and it will certainly drive customers to your business as they look for more flavorful and healthier food.

When you do select local produce, you want to make sure of a few things to really verify that you are getting the greenest quality when you buy it.

Girl buying street food

  • Find a farmer that is local to your area
  • Source a farmer that does not use pesticides, preservatives, or chemicals
  • Look for a farmer that offers a variety of seasonal fruit and vegetables

You may also want to consider the menu that you are offering your customers. A green menu can easily be created by making it seasonal to the fruits and vegetables that you are able to source and use in your dishes. Your customers will appreciate the variety and come back to your restaurant to see what’s next on the menu.


4.    Take Away 

Now, we don’t mean that you should get rid of your takeout orders. You simply need to change the way that you package the meals. Styrofoam is the enemy! You need to get rid of all Styrofoam containers and replace them with recyclable packaging that your customers can use again or recycle when they get home.

A person makes a purchase

Also, you will want to reconsider giving out plastic silverware with each and every order. While you don’t want to make it inconvenient for your customers to eat when they order takeout from your restaurant, you do want to make a point of being a green business.

Ask your customers if they need silverware to accompany their takeout meal. In most instances, they won’t as they are likely eating at home. For those customers that absolute need silverware, think about recycled options that can help keep your restaurant as green as possible.


5.    Use Recyclable Paper in and Out

There are a number of places where you can cut out the paper or move to recycled options. Placemats and napkins can easily be swapped out for a recyclable alternative. This will not hurt the aesthetic of your restaurant or change the way that you service your customers.

Paper food containers

Everywhere, that you see waste, think about making an environmentally-friendly choice. Paper can pile up and cost you money. Don’t forget to invest in:

  • Recyclable doggie bags
  • Takeout containers
  • To-go bags

This easy investment can keep you green and help you to save money and reduce waste in the process.


6.    Clean with Environmentally Friendly Cleaners

Now that you have a green strategy, it is time to think about how you can keep your restaurant looking its best. You’ll want to start using environmentally-friendly cleaners to make your restaurant as fresh and clean as possible on a daily basis.

Use cleaners that are all natural and don’t use harmful chemicals to keep up with your green strategy. Or you can try to make your own natural cleaners using a few simple recipes. These green cleaners will keep your restaurant clean and eliminate any hazards that can contaminate food, making your business even better for your customers.


7.    Think Energy Savings

More than likely, you are using energy sources that are sucking up power and adding to your overhead costs. Swap out all the light bulbs in your restaurant with LED lights or low-energy use lights that still offer the ambiance you are going for.

LED lights are economical as they last longer and use less power. This can keep your energy bill to a minimum while you use less power to light up your restaurant, keeping your business as green as possible.


8.    Watch the Water

Going green is all about reducing your total carbon footprint. One of the ways that you can do this is by reducing your water usage. Buy low-energy, water-saving dishwashers to ensure you are using only the water you need.

Water sign

You’ll also want to remind your staff to keep their water usage to a minimum. This doesn’t mean that you forego cleaning habits, but rather that you watch for running water that is not being used. It can be easy in the mad rush of dinner to let the water run to make your customer service faster, but it will only increase your environmental footprint and your water costs.

Going green is a simple way to reduce your environmental footprint. Your restaurant will reap the rewards of a green strategy, and you’ll see your customers benefit from the efforts you have made.