What actually IS sustainability, and what are the biggest steps that could, and should, be taken in your restaurant?

As part of Straw by Straw’s commitment to working towards a more sustainable future, we’re constantly trying to help restaurants become more sustainability focused spaces, both through our product and our informative articles. But what actually IS sustainability, and what are the biggest steps that could be taken in your restaurant?

Sustainability itself is defined as ‘planning for the long term’, and in our case specifically refers to balancing environmental, economic and social demands in the modern world. For too long restaurants have been forced to focus so much on their economic stability that they don’t have time or budget to be aware of positive changes they can make to help the world. This has led our consistent price drops aligning with our goal to make sustainability affordable and worth its true value as well as our guides to accommodate for time restraints. As for what steps you should be considering taking:

There are two key contributors to climate change in the hospitality industry. The first is our key problem, single-use plastics. As you may be aware, the EU has thankfully banned these from 2021, and our product is focused around providing one of the best alternatives to these all too popular items found in any restaurant. Secondly, there’s food waste, to which there are many different solutions. For examples, we can see Franco Manca’s tackling of their spare dough by sharing with the community, or offering recyclable containers and encouraging your customers to take their food home with them if they don’t finish it or even present food on smaller plates – studies show that customers feel as if their portion is bigger on a smaller plate and that they’re likely to leave less of their food behind. Finally and most relevantly, storage should be optimised, with Fruit and Vegetables both having extended lifetimes if cared for well, and managed expectations meaning that yes, sometimes you might run out of something, but far less food will be sent to a landfill where it produces horrible methane to harm the environment.

One key way to reduce greenhouse gases is also the option of veganism, whereby some studies you could reduce greenhouses by 60 or more percent! Vegan restaurants are not only gaining popularity and respect but are the most eco friendly option when considering menus, food preparation and waste and production. The economist states: to go vegan for two-thirds of meals, while still occasionally indulging in animal products would cut food-related greenhouse-gas emissions by nearly 60%. Absolute veganism, unsurprisingly, is the most environmentally friendly. Die-hard leaf-eaters can claim to have knocked off 85% off their carbon footprint.

Overall, it is essential that food waste and utensils waste gets reduced – CarbonFreeDining.org states that ‘As poorer countries develop and the world’s population grows, emissions associated with food waste could soar from 0.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year to between 1.9 and 2.5 GT annually by 2050.’ And furthermore, it is widely argued that cutting food waste and re-distributing the world’s food waste or surplus where poverty and malnourishment occur could help tackle hunger in those places that do not have the resources to prosper - especially given that in many cases, the citizens land to expand farming is rare.