The bar and restaurant industry is a primary contributor to food waste in America, which in turn, is primary contributor to all waste in America. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy opportunities to reverse this troubling trend. In honor of Earth Day, NP took a look at five simple solutions.
(1) Straw Man Arguments— Americans use 500 million plastic straws a day according to National Geographic. That also means that we throw away 500 million plastic straws a day, much of it destined to pollute the oceans. Fortunately, there are a few other options. Lots of high end cocktail bars are opting to use metal straws, adding a touch of style to the eco-friendly option. Likewise, acrylic straws can also be cleaned and reused.
Others opt to take the paper route. NP is a big fan of Aardvark Straws. The industry leader in the field offers all sorts of cool colors and patterns to spruce up your libations. However, it is worth noting that paper straws have a tendency to get soggy fast; so deploy with caution. Note: Some establishments opt for bamboo straws. They are sourced from a plant, not a petrochemical like plastic—which is good. However, activists argue that bamboo has its own problems like over-expansion, destructive shipping practices over a long journey from Asia, and the same ultimate fate in a landfill.
(2) Nap Time for Napkins — BevNaps are another source of immense and needles waste. The answer here is real easy: use coasters. Once again, helping the earth can help you express your bar’s own style. In a world of uniform white squares, a cool coaster makes a statement.
(3) Fruit Wake — Bars waste immense amounts of fruit. The keys to shifting this tide are two fold. First, reduce the overall waste and then change how you handle the remaining waste.
First of all, try to use the entire fruit. For example, make sure that orange you’re zesting for garnish also gets juiced. Pineapple provide juice and meat, but the fronds make a great garnish and the remaining pineapple can be turned into a very cool tiki cup (that also commands an up-charge.) Pros have been known to take leftover fruit and turn it into tepache and mothers for shrubs.
Still, you’re still probably going to have some waste from your fruit. Compost, compost, compost! Whether, the peels are destined for a garden behind you’re establishments community garden, or a commercial composting company, you are still doing some good. Food waste is the largest The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that food waste is the largest contributor to municipal waste in the country. Doing you part is as simple as finding space for a bin and training your staff. (It does take some time for a bartender or a barback in the weeds to get used to a new routine.)
(4) Glass Houses — Water waste is another major threat to the ecosystem. Obviously, you need to wash your glassware, but think about how much water that takes. Specifically, glasses with wider brims, like a martini glass, create a larger footprint in your dishwasher—which means more water. Consider using glasses, like the Nick and Nora, which can hold the same sized cocktails, but offer a much smaller footprint. Switching up the glassware will also offer an excuse for some great vintage touches to service.
(5) Give Back — Despite the best intentions, perishables will always be an issue in this industry. If you don’t have the resources to start a full on food waste recycling program, consider pairing with an organization that collects un-sellable, but otherwise edible food from bars and restaurants for the purpose of feeding the poor. For starting points, check out this great list from foodtank.