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Green Restaurants Are For Everyone

written by: AngelaC•edited by: Lindsay Evans•updated: 6/28/2011

Green living restaurants are everywhere now. From increasing recycling to installing energy saving solar panels, going green is a great way for restaurants to save money and help the environment.

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    Going Green! Restaurants

    Green restaurants strive to "go green" in many ways, including reducing food waste, energy waste and water waste. For many restaurants, the first step is to get the staff, customers and vendors all involved in going green. Not only will adopting green practices cut costs, but it will project a positive public image to the customers.

    The largest area of waste in most restaurants is food waste. One of the best ways eco-friendly restaurants limit the amount of food they waste is by composting food scraps and using it for animal feed.

    To reduce water waste, restaurants may install water-efficient dishwashers, wash only full loads, pre-soak pots and pans, and use the cooking water from vegetables for soup stock. In addition, green restaurants promptly repair all water leaks, install aerators, and install water-efficient toilets.

    When conserving electricity, eco-friendly restaurants have many options. They can install fluorescent lighting, occupancy censored lighting, purchase smaller, more energy efficient appliances, install programmable thermostats and change air filters on a regular basis.

    Many restaurants are also switching over to recycled, tree-free, biodegradable, organic products, chlorine-free paper products, and non-toxic cleaning and chemical products.

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    Dining In

    Making it a priority to patronize eco-friendly restaurants is one way consumers can really make a difference. When going out to eat, choose to walk, use public transportation or carpool to save energy. If possible, choose restaurants that have an energy or design certification such as Energy Star or LEED, or choose a restaurant that is a member of the Green Restaurant Association.

    Choosing a vegetarian restaurant over a traditional restraunt is an eco-friendly choice. Keep in mind that restaurants that stay involved in the community are likely involved in other humanitarian efforts as well.

    Once you have the menu in hand, there are many ways to make eco-friendly dining choices. Start by choosing menu items lower on the food chain, such as chicken or vegan items. Check for seafood choices that are included on the Environmental Defense Fund’s “Eco-Best" list. Also, check to see if the menu includes information about where they get their food or if it lists numerous items that are organic, grass-fed or free-range.

    Overall, green restaurants will generally purchase locally grown products and show pride in the health and well-being of you and your community.

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    Resources

    Environmental Defense Fund’s “Eco-Best" list: http://www.fooddrink-magazine.com/content/view/415/

    Eat Well Guide: http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?id=Home

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    Photo Credit: mnn.com