Simple ways to start your sustainable journey

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Starting your sustainability journey doesn’t have to be costly or time consuming. Small changes can make a big difference, make it easier to envision bigger changes down the road and even save you a few bucks. An easy way to begin is to focus on making one improvement in a few different areas. Each of the following suggestions are free, take minimal time and can result in cost savings while also improving the environmental score of your establishment.

ENERGY – Do an informal energy audit. Walk around your facility at various time of the day and night, observing what is ‘on’ that needn’t be. Are extra lights on during the day or in areas where there is plenty of natural light? Equipment running well before opening or lunch rush? Consider implementing a daytime ‘lights off’ policy or ‘start up/shut down’ schedule for kitchen equipment.

WATER – Do a thorough walk-through of your facility, look for leaks and make sure that staff isn’t running water unnecessarily (e.g. running hot water to melt ice or half-full dishwasher loads). Consider installing (‘installing’ requires no more than screwing on by hand) low-flow faucet aerators. They cost about $3 per and can immediately decrease the amount of water used at hand washing and production sinks.

WASTE – Are you still handing out plastic straws automatically? With movements like “Last Straw Toronto”, this practice is quickly becoming extinct. Wasteful, and an unnecessary expense – many businesses have switched to offering plastic straws only by request, while having paper, reusable or compostable straws as back ups. But why stop there? Most single use disposable plastics used for service can be eliminated or replaced with eco-friendly alternatives.

FOOD – Increase the proportion of vegetarian dishes on your menu or switch your seafood offerings to truly sustainable varieties. This is not only in line with consumer trends, but also doubles as an eco-friendly strategy.

STAFF – talk to your staff about your green vision, and what you’re doing to achieve it. Ask for their input on what they would like to see and ask for their help and ideas. Doing so not only ensures that front line staff are following through with your green intentions but creates a sense of pride in the workplace.

To learn more, visit LEAFme.org

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