Though it may be hard to believe, 2014 is over and 2015 has begun, but one trend that remains consistent is the restaurant industry’s continued interest in sustainability.
The proof is evident. This year, for the second time in a row, environmental sustainability was among the top 10 trends on the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot Culinary Forecast. An increased interest in food waste reduction, local and hyper-local sourcing and sustainable seafood also topped the list of 2015 trends.
But as more restaurateurs resolve this year to consider applying sustainable practices to their everyday operations, one question must be answered first: where to begin?
The fact is environmental sustainability is complex. Just getting started often seems daunting. To help ease your entry into sustainability, we at the NRA’s Conserve program offer five tips on building your own environmentally stable approach:
- Do your research and network. Find out what environmental efforts and groups are working in your community, what kind of local help is available regarding recycling, how to conserve water and energy, or composting your food waste. Start by asking your employees and perform a basic Web search. Build a short list and talk to people. Remember you’re not in this alone and that people will help you.
- Introspection and self-assessment. Now that you’ve collected ideas and contacts, look inside your organization and review your business plan and mission statement. Start to incorporate environmental efforts into that language. You might be surprised by the outcome. Also, look at what you can take on for one year. Pick one thing. Don’t do too much or you will burn yourself out.
- Find your story and prepare to implement it. Based on your corporate goals, business environment and local circumstances, decide what practices make sense to implement and think about how you’ll achieve those efforts. Draft a narrative starting small and local that you can share with your employees, customers and community. Be authentic and genuine or they will know it and call you out.
- Set short- and long-term goals. Outline a series of small goals you can realistically achieve in one year and in three years. Make sure they are measurable. After all, you can’t manage what you don’t measure!
- Tactical efforts. How are you going to achieve your goals from step 4? What specific steps will you and your staff take, and when? Remember: don’t diverge from your core story or mission statement.
While these tips may seem a little abstract, the process will become clearer once you start doing it.
Jeff Clark is program director for the NRA’s Conserve sustainability initiative. Follow Conserve on Facebook or Twitter @ConserveNow
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