As consumers increasingly “vote” with their dollars, businesses modify their practices to be more ethical, sustainable, and inclusive.
The restaurant industry is no exception.
Sustainability initiatives and zero waste policies have emerged in the business practices and visions of New York area restaurants.
This is being driven by diners who are looking for ways to eat more ethically and lessen their impact on the environment.
Factors like taste, cost, and locality are not the only things driving consumers to dine at restaurants in NYC and its surrounding areas. Food waste is a massive concern for environmental advocates. Since restaurants are a main contributor to this issue, some restaurants have dedicated their businesses to reducing waste and, therefore, their environmental impact.
These restaurants are doing their part in creating sustainable food systems by taking into account the environmental impact of producing, distributing, and consuming healthy food.
For example, Just Salad, a New York-based fast casual restaurant chain, has a dual mission of offering healthy food on the go and giving consumers a sustainable food choice. The company has seen rapid growth as of late, with plans to open as many as 20 new locations by the end of this year.
Just Salad founded a reusable bowl program for its customers and has gone so far as to begin incorporating sustainability into its menu offerings.
CEO Nick Kenner told Nation’s Restaurant News,“we’ll have an “Earth Friendly” menu board displaying salads with low carbon footprints, which are calculated and verified by a third-party organization.”
Another New York City-based restaurant, Rhodora Wine Bar, opened in 2019 with the goal of being the first truly zero-waste restaurant in the city.
The owners are committed to only using ingredients packaging that can be reused, recycled, or composted. They also source ingredients from small farms and organic suppliers.
When Rhodora opened, the number of people searching terms for ”sustainability” in the New York area was higher than ever. Meanwhile, the food waste management business continues to boom, and restaurants with sustainability missions built into their business continue to open up.
Future restaurants may look a lot different than they do today. With more and more sustainability-driven restaurants popping up, they could serve as the model for other restaurants to step up their game and work to lessen their impact on the massive global food waste problem.
Until then, there are options for diners looking to order meals from restaurants who align with their values.