Want to grow your restaurant this year? Restaurant sustainability may be the key. An estimated 70% of diners care about how their food is sourced, according to the National Restaurant Association. More than 1 in 4 consumers also say that they would pay more for sustainable food.

The demand for sustainable foodservice is clearly there, but adopting sustainable practices can also boost your bottom line. Restaurants can save $6 for every $1 spent on reducing food waste.

But where do you start? How can restaurants be more sustainable this year? Here are some tips.

sustainable restaurant practices

Buy Local or Grow It Yourself

One of the simplest ways to improve your restaurant’s sustainability is to buy locally or grow it yourself.

If you have the space, start a kitchen garden. It doesn’t get much fresher and more sustainable than freshly picked ingredients a few feet from your restaurant’s door. That alone will be a selling point for your restaurant and an enticing way to get more customers through your doors.

Not every restaurant will have the ability to start its own garden. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work with local farmers and suppliers to source your ingredients.

If your bread comes from the bakery down the street or your produce comes from the small farm across town, customers will be more inclined to stop in and support your business. At the same time, you will build valuable relationships with local businesses that will also support your business in return.

Sustainable restaurant practices like these not only help the environment but also help the local economy.

Offer a Seasonal Menu

One of the most effective sustainability practices in restaurants is also one that can boost your profitability: offering a seasonal menu.

Cooking seasonally is naturally sustainable because the foods on your menu can be locally sourced. Out-of-season foods have to travel long distances to reach your restaurant.

The beauty of having a seasonal menu is that your restaurant is always offering something new and interesting. Customers are more likely to return just to see what’s new on the menu.

Plus, seasonal foods will be fresh and flavorful because they don’t have to travel far to reach your doorstep.

Going seasonal is a win-win for everyone and one of the best sustainable practices in restaurants that you can adopt.

If you’re struggling to source local ingredients, do your best to work with suppliers that offer the highest quality and freshest ingredients possible.

Go Beyond Food with Sustainability

When it comes to sustainability in restaurants, the focus is, naturally, on the food. But you can take it one step further by adopting sustainable practices beyond your menu.

Because the way you operate your restaurant and manage your waste will also impact your sustainability. Adopting eco-friendly practices can help reduce your environmental footprint and improve your image in the eyes of customers.

How do you go beyond the menu when it comes to sustainability?

You can:

  • Use reclaimed wood for your restaurant’s flooring

  • Invest in energy-efficient equipment

  • Train your staff to turn off the tap when it’s not in use

  • Install motion detector lights in hallways to reduce electricity use

  • Offer eco-friendly takeout containers

Make sustainability part of your culture and your identity as a restaurant.

One other way to go beyond the menu is to focus on sustainable waste management.

how can restaurants be more sustainable

Manage All of Your Waste

Another important aspect of running a sustainable restaurant is waste management. Find every opportunity you can to reduce your landfill waste.

For example, weigh and measure your food waste, and then send it to compost. If you have a kitchen garden, you can use that compost to feed the soil that will grow your fresh ingredients.

  • Make sure that glass and cardboard products are recycled.

  • Return packaging to suppliers for reuse.

  • Ask suppliers not to send products in Styrofoam boxes.

  • Encourage diners to take leftovers home in a to-go box.

  • Find ways to use ingredients that are nearing expiration (e.g., use leftover, stale bread to make croutons).

Make sure that you’re also optimizing your ordering and inventory management. If you find that ingredients are spoiling before they’re used, order less of those items at a time or consider ditching the menu item if it’s not popular.

Reducing your restaurant’s waste will not only save you money, but it will help reduce your environmental impact and help improve your sustainability.

Plan Today with the Future in Mind

If you want to market yourself as a sustainability restaurant, then you need to make plans with the future in mind. Yes, environmentally friendly equipment has a higher upfront cost, but that investment will provide long term value.

Energy efficient equipment will reduce your energy costs, which is a major expense for many restaurants. Additionally, you may find that you don’t have to replace this equipment as often.

Train Your Staff and Make Sustainability Your Culture

Sustainability in the restaurant industry needs to go beyond just shopping locally and offering eco-friendly takeout containers. Although these things go a very long way towards making a restaurant sustainable, they aren’t everything.

It’s important to train your staff to adopt your new practices and become passionate about sustainability. Everyone needs to be on board with your waste management and other practices that you adopt.

Don’t Forget Your Customers

Sustainability is important, but don’t lose sight of your customers when adopting these new practices. Make sure that your staff is educated on your sustainable practices, so they can explain them to customers. But don’t shove your message down their throats. Focus on providing an unforgettable experience and ensuring that customers walk away full and satisfied.


Restaurants and sustainability can go hand in hand if you adopt the right practices and build relationships with suppliers and vendors that prioritize sustainability.

Use the tips above to start making your restaurant more sustainable this year. Start small and slowly implement more sustainable practices over time. Prioritize training your staff to ensure that everyone in your restaurant is following sustainable practices.