Sustainability in Restaurants (& Hotels)

Good morning. Was hoping for a thought or two on recycling and sustainability in our profession.

Is sustainability a factor in the choices your establishment makes?

How much paper does your restaurant go through each year on preshift notes and menus?

Any thoughts on how our position may contribute positively to this issue?

Most hotels and restaurants in Las Vegas do not recycle, and some light calculations on how much paper waste exists is truly staggering (let alone food waste!). 

Any input is appreciated!.


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  • I have never worked in a restaurant that recycled or really cared much about sustainability, but I do have ideas of things that could be easy changes and would start to make a difference. (The place where I teach now does recycle, but it's small and not comparable to a larger scale restaurant or hotel). 

    Before I left my last restaurant job I was planning to pitch the idea of starting a compost system since I noticed a majority of the garbage there was either compostable or recyclable. The idea was that there would be a separate bin for all compostable things (food scraps, coffee grounds, etc.) to go into and I was going to manage it. It would then eventually become soil for gardens that people could come pick up to use at home and for the restaurant to use in the flower/herb beds around outside. We did plant some bug-repelling plants around the patio to keep from having to use any kind of natural bug sprays and candles and it worked really well for the summer.

    As far as things go to paper with pre shift notes, I would love to see places start using dry erase boards (though those do use plastic markers and it's not recyclable) or chalkboards to keep notes. You can also then keep a record of the notes in an online database. We went through menus like crazy there and nothing was recycled, I cannot imagine how much paper was used in 1 year!

    Something similar to bees wrap (maybe a vegan option for those with sensitive or bee allergies) would be great for replacing plastic wrap for food storage. There are many great compostable to-go food containers and they are not too expensive, I believe you can find them on webstaurant. There are also unbleached, reusable coffee filters you can buy – I use smaller ones at home every day and they're very easy to clean. The ones I have are compostable too once they get old and not useable anymore. At my house we use one at least once a day every day, we've had these for months and the first one is still holding up very well! 

    If you're trying to use less chemicals, I like to clean decanters with a hot water rinse first, then cool it down and get any stains out with crushed ice and salt – if the stains are really bad I'll add a little lemon juice. This trick works really well with stained coffee mugs too. Then end it with a few rinses of warm water.

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