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We’ve all heard of the ‘trickle down’ effect. In the world of high fashion, it only takes a few seasons before the designs showcased on the catwalks find their way into our high street stores. Minus the Haute Couture (we’ll save that largely non-ethical topic for another day!), the world of food, restaurants and catering is much the same. With time and probably sooner rather than later, the environmental policies and sustainability initiatives adopted by the world’s leading restaurants and top chefs will soon become the benchmark for all forms of catering, small and large, across the globe. 

Because of the focus on climate change, there is now a growing expectation among patrons and clients for restaurants and catering suppliers to wear their sustainability credentials like a badge of honor. Gastronomic quality and creativity will obviously always play an important part, however culinary delights are no longer the choice de rigueur. Today’s customers are now heavily focused on good ethics and minimizing their carbon footprint whenever they can. What does sustainability mean? An eco-focused food enterprise should be looking to adopt business practices that leave a positive impact on the environment and society in general. Sustainable initiatives should be considered at every stage, from how they source their ingredients to the ways in which they serve food to their hungry customers. Restaurants and catering companies should also not be afraid of rolling up their sleeves to support their local communities, whether it’s to provide a helping hand at a local food bank or offering work placement opportunities to those who need it most.

Eco-minded sustainable chefs and sustainable restaurants need to understand that the well-being of their clients and staff has a direct correlation to reducing their carbon emissions, plastic pollution and food waste. From ethical produce to compostable plates - in today’s blog post we explore the Top 5 Ways for Top Chefs and Caterers to be more Eco-Conscious to help you make that switch today!

1. Tableware – Palm Leaf Plates

    When it comes to biodegradable and eco friendly tableware, look no further than palm leaf plates. Made entirely from naturally fallen areca palm leaves, the production process uses zero chemicals, dyes or glues; an absolute winner for those looking for non-toxic and odorless plates as well as a sustainable alternative to paper or plastic. Palm leaf plates are also vegan-friendly and 100% biodegradable. And since everything is made from natural materials, palm leaf plates can be easily composted, resulting in zero waste for your restaurant and catering business. Compared with alternative tableware, palm leaf plates are far better for the environment as the productsandproduction processes are completely sustainable. By only using leaves that have fallen naturally to the ground, local ecosystems are not harmed during the harvesting process.

    As zero-waste catering continues to rise in popularity, it’s important to offer patrons a choice of eco-friendly tableware that not only has the right credentials but looks good as well. Chic Leaf’s range of palm leaf plates all have a beautiful natural finish not dissimilar to wood grain. This aesthetic provides a more upmarket feel, making them suitable not just for casual eateries but also for more formal events such as weddings, graduations and corporate events. As each plate will have its own unique grain pattern and patina, no two items will look the same. Needless to say, even those with no eco-catering experience will be blown away by the quality.

    Ranging from 4 and 6-inch appetizer plates to 10-inch dinner plates, Chic Leaf has a wide variety of plates, trays and bowls in various shapes and sizes that will look beautiful in any setting. So whether it’s a fine dining experience, a local hangout spot, or a county fair or festival, we know you can fulfill your sustainability objectives at a cost you can afford.

    2. Shop Locally for Ingredients

    Let’s face it, those tomatoes from your local farm shop just taste so much better than those from the chain grocery store. But what does buying locally actually do for the environment? Well, its two words, carbon emissions. By shopping locally, we remove the need for products to be shipped from overseas. This in turn helps reduce air pollution and also creates less packaging, reducing the amount of waste we produce. We’re pretty fond of our local farmers market here in CA, but local markets selling amazing produce can be found all across the US. Find your nearest farmers market here. Whilst this isn’t exactly a product in the traditional sense, it’s one of the easiest ways to make a big difference – fast. Benefiting the local community as well as the environment – that’s two major ticks in our green book!

    With many people now adopting the idea of Meatless Mondays, farmers markets should be your first port of call when sourcing outstanding local produce. No longer a concept just for vegan chefs, creating dedicated vegetarian or vegan menus one day a week is becoming an increasingly popular idea at many eateries and with the expansion of plant-based foods, the menu options are literally limitless. Why not give it a go and see what your customers think?

    3. Plant Based Cutlery - Cornstarch (PLA)

    Caterers we see you! No longer will your trash bags be filled with single-use plastics which are obviously terrible for the planet. How about a green cutlery solution that actually does what it says on the tin? Plant-based cutlery made from sustainable cornstarch, or PLA as it's more commonly known, is one of the most sustainable catering consumables out there... and we're raving about it. Completely compostable, no chemicals or unpleasant coatings. Plant based cutlery is certified as 100% compostable and marketed as a cleaner and greener alternative, we couldn’t agree more.

    From food trucks to quick service restaurants, making the switch from harmful plastic to these eco- friendly beauties will immediately cut down on your waste going to landfill. Although plastic cutlery can sometimes be recycled, the process is often slow and plagued with contamination issues, not to mention the amount of energy used.

    Many companies are already making the switch to biodegradable cutlery and it’s a trend that we think will continue to grow. The perfect solution for your sustainable catering business.

    4. Composting

    If your kitchen is growing its own organic produce you may be able to benefit directly by using your very own kitchen scraps fertilizer – talk about circular economy! Whether it’s for use on your own kitchen allotments or for the broader community, this is one great way to advertise your business’s eco credentials. Taking it one step further, you could even send your compost to one of your local supplier farms for them to use. By composting your organic waste, you can dramatically reduce the amount sent to landfill, which will in turn lower your costs for commercial disposal. If you have the space, why not explore the numerous options for composting yourself? And remember those palm leaf plates we talked about earlier, they are perfect for composting.

    Just cut them up and toss in your compost bin. Palm leaf plates break down in a matter of weeks leaving you with a nutrient- rich soil to be used on your herb or kitchen garden – and you thought going green was hard? 

    5. On-Site Water Bottling

      When a restaurant makes changes to how they serve water, they’re not just reducing their environmental impact, they’re also making a significant saving from not purchasing expensive and wasteful plastic bottled water. Even though some plastic bottles are recyclable, a frighteningly high percentage of plastic still ends up in landfill where it will take hundreds of years to break down.

      The simple act of only serving diners a glass of water when they ask for it all adds up. Remember that any small changes we make will add up to a bigger difference.

      Today we’re showing you another must-have water solution for sustainable restaurants around the world - Vivreau Water. Vivreau’s on-site bottling service and reusable glass bottles has helped hundreds of clients become environmentally responsible. With the added bonus of optional branding, this is one area where clients can see first-hand your establishment’s green credentials, improving your image in the world of sustainability.


      Final Thoughts

      Whether you use all these points or just one (sustainable disposable plates are the easiest switch, in our opinion!), no matter how small a contribution you are making, together our small changes lead to a bigger impact around the globe.

      Whereas before it was seen as impractical or even frivolous to implement greener choices, especially if you didn’t market yourself as an eco chef or caterer, nowadays every single company can make small changes in their day-to-day business to reduce their environmental impact whilst also appealing to their audience. Maybe this is your first time looking into sustainability for your business, and maybe you are trying to find other eco friendly dinnerware options such as bamboo plates - whatever stage you’re at, good for you. Awareness is the first step to holding your business accountable and improving its footprint on our world.

      So start those small steps for your restaurant or catering business today and we’ll see you in a more sustainable tomorrow.

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