Reducing Waste - 3 Steps Restaurants Are Taking to Reduce Waste

  I have helped hundreds of restaurants over the past few years move toward zero waste -- a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused or recycled.

Businesses pushing toward zero waste focus on reducing waste as much as possible and then diverting any remaining waste toward recycling and composting environments. To accomplish this, I've seen these businesses incorporate 3 major tactics:

1) Eliminating Non Recyclable or Compostable Waste - I've seen a variety restaurants and cafes effectively eliminate waste that can not be composted or recycled. For outbound supplies (ones used by customers), many have moved over to compostable food packaging for their cutlery, to go containers, cups, bowls, etc. Inbound supplies can be a bit more difficult to control (e.g., it's more difficult to force your vendor not to cover your produce with plastic wrap), but still in many cases restaurants have been able to ask vendors to stop using packaging which is difficult to recycled such as Styrofoam.

2) Eliminating their Trash Cans - I've seen quite a few sustainably minded business owners eliminate or dramatically reduce the size of their trash can. This seems to be a very powerful tactic so long as you've already implemented #1 and reduced most of your packaging to compostables & recyclables. By eliminating your trash can, you force customers to think before they discard their waste, and when combined with proper recycling & composting signage, this can be very effective for getting customers to self-sort their waste.

3) Employee Education - I've found that businesses that are the best at moving toward zero waste actively educate and train their employees on recycling, composting, use of re-usables, etc. Training is key for answering customer questions (e.g., which bin does this fork go in?) and for the sorting of waste left at tables or in the kitchen. Further, having employees that are excited about a businesses move toward zero waste will go a long way in embedding that sentiment into the businesses culture and the minds of it's customers.

3 Practical Ways for Landscapers to Reduce Waste

Green business is a hot-ticket commodity in many parts of the country. Virtually every industry has a market segment of green specialists offering services marketed towards consumers who prioritize the environment and sustainable alternatives. Many business owners find that their customers are willing to pay more for a highly quality product or service that is more sustainable and less destructive to the environment locally and globally.

For this reason, many landscapers and design-build firms market themselves as environmentally conscience or even "green" in their techniques and material choices. After all, the companies that make our environments beautiful should aim to keep them that way. However, their dedication to green practices may not extend beyond their choice of native plants. Landscapers, golf courses maintenance crews, and other routine maintenance providers ought to work towards developing more sustainable procedures in their day-to-day work. Here are three practical ways that lawn and tree care companies can improve their practices and reduce waste.

1. Use recycled materials for landscaping

The EPA advises that landscapers and home owners recycle waste from their landscaping projects, including green waste (suggesting mulching some byproducts), lumber, brick, concrete, and asphalt. Obviously, the more materials which we can salvaged for reuse in other projects, the better for the customer's budget and for the environment. This may require the innovative use of old, weathered materials in new, thoughtful ways by other customers.

2. Compost green waste

Composting is a great small-scale solution for individual home owners, some of whom may choose to hire a lawn and tree care company which offers composting services. Composting can also be done in large-scale facilities or landfills, but may have some drawbacks, such as smell which affects the surrounding community. Often times, websites run by your state or local government provide more information about how to set up effective compost piles in either home-made or industrial compost bins. Landscapers can help educate their clients about the benefits of home composting and assist with the set up of systems that will radically reduce their waste output.

3. Recycle lawn grass clippings

While the EPA's suggestions target landscaping projects instead of the byproducts of routine maintenance, lawn and tree care companies as well as golf course maintenance crews dispose of a significant amount of lawn clipping grass into non-composting landfills. In fact, the amount of lawn clippings produced in 6 months in the United States could feed all of our cattle for a year.

Going Green With Eco-Friendly Products - Products That Reduced Waste

If you haven't started already, now is the best time to go green. One way of going green is by buying eco-friendly products. There are a number of ways to identify green products: look for companies that are going green, items made from renewable resources, etc. One of the things we often forget about, however, is what happens to the things we buy when we are finished with them? How eco-friendly can a product be if it just becomes regular old waste? So, how do we find eco-friendly products that reduce waste?

Here is a quick guide to finding the best eco-friendly products- those that reduce waste:

1) When you want to go green, look for biodegradable items. Paper is better than plastic, but beware of those paper products covered in a plastic coating. They will take just as long to go back to the earth (around 500 years) as plastic products. Green products are biodegradable products.

2) Eco-friendly products are recyclable. Check your city or county's recycling policies and methods. Make sure that what you buy is easily recyclable. A note on CFC bulbs here: they use much less energy and last longer than ordinary bulbs, but they have mercury in them, so don't throw them away. Check for a recycle program in your area for them.

3) When you buy big appliances or other big-ticket items, be sure to check the store or manufacturer to see if they offer a program for disposal when you have no more use for them. There are more and more companies that are going green out there, so check around.

4) Zero waste products. Look for products that are eco-friendly by finding those items that have no waste. Think creatively here. You don't need every book you buy in a paper version, do you? Try an E-book version. Instead of buying every CD you love, just purchase the download version. Digital is one way to convert to a zero waste lifestyle. Consider buying second-hand or passing things on for others to use when you're finished. Bring an Eco Bag (a great green product by the way) to the supermarket instead of taking home extra bags every time. Think of other ways in which you can convert to a zero waste lifestyle on the path to going green. Buy zero waste products

Whether you're just starting out or have been on the path to going green for a while now, find more ways to go green with eco-friendly products. Look for those products that are easily disposed of or reduce waste. Imagine a world with zero waste. I believe we will make a world like this someday. Let's do it sooner, rather than later.

Thanks for reading about going green with eco-friendly products and ways to reduce waste!


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