How do you improve your catering operations and make them better for the health of the planet? Here are some time-tested tips for green catering that will impress your eco-minded customers, and contribute to a more responsible approach to stewardship of our earth.
We’re going to break these down into three main categories – food, materials and equipment – in order to show how each of these areas benefits from good ecological catering practices.
Our Food Tips
Bring the Vegetarian and Vegan Options
People these days are going vegetarian, or even vegan, for several very good reasons.
Without getting into detail, some of the top ones are related to personal health, the welfare of animals, the pressures on workers in the meat industry, and the massive amounts of land and resources that it takes to produce meat in general.
When you talk about the ecological impact, eating less meat leaves more valuable farmland for other crops, and decreases the amount of methane and other types of carbon emissions.
Sustainable Food Choices
Another way to optimize your menu for sustainability is to choose in-season fruits and vegetables that don’t have to be trucked long distances in order to end up on our plates.
Also, there are other ways to promote sustainability by choosing fewer high-demand options. This is especially useful in the seafood business, where overfished species are not the only alternative that you have to create awesome menus.
Reduce Food Waste
You can always make your catering business more eco-friendly by reducing food waste in many different ways.
Food waste is bad for the environment, because it requires more purchasing and more production.
So to the extent that you can reduce waste, you’re saving money and the environment, too. Deliberate plating and portion control can make a big difference, along with a FIFO (First In First Out) method for your walk-in.
Our Materials Tips
Choose Biodegradable Flatware and Disposables
New types of hemp-based disposables have a dramatically lower impact on the environment.
Massive volumes of discarded plastics are destroying our oceans and filling our landfills. By contrast, new biodegradable disposables break down and go back to the earth. This should really be on everyone’s radar if they value ecology and future of the planet.
Instead of handing out plastic bottles of water, soda or juice, bring liquids in large tank containers and dispense them to thirsty crowds. This way, you save a huge amount of plastics, and contribute to a greener future with a smaller carbon footprint and less waste.
Going along with the beverage station, you can replace the ‘red solo cup’ with biodegradable paper cups that can be incinerated or break down after being discarded. The curious thing is how hard it is to get hold of paper cups instead of plastic cups through your average supply chain. The bottom line is that if you partner with the right vendors, you’ll get biodegradable disposables, and that makes a huge difference in your overall impact.
Our Equipment and Operations Tips
Use Green Equipment
You can check your ranges, refrigerators, double boilers, and other gear for Energy Star labels. This helps you know that you’re using less energy to power your kitchen.
Using hybrids or other fuel-saving vehicles to deliver your catering equipment and food also decreases your carbon footprint by upping your miles per gallon.
Natural Cleaning Solutions
Another way to apply ecological principles in catering or any other field is to use green cleaning solutions.
There’s a lot we could say about this, but let’s just take the best example – vinegar. Vinegar is abundantly useful in catering, and in general cleaning as well. Companies so often use lab-created chemicals instead of natural vinegar for all sorts of tasks. If you embrace the idea that you can use the same natural substance for ceviche and cleaning surfaces, you’re one step closer to better ecological principles for your kitchen.
For more, check out our web site at Chefs’ Toys, where we are “for chefs, by chefs.” We know what it takes to make restaurants work – so we have compiled all of our site resources to help you to choose wisely – and win!