To reduce this amount, restaurants need to work towards a zero-waste concept, where they reduce on their food waste as well as use more sustainable products and find things like chef hats for sale, made from similar fabric to cook shirts and other uniforms. If businesses don't address this issue, there could be serious consequences for the environment in terms of both air and water pollution. Restaurants can take a number of steps to move towards a zero-waste concept, which will ultimately benefit both the planet and their bottom line. The first step in reducing waste is to audit your waste stream. This means taking stock of what you are currently throwing away and separating it into categories such as food scraps, paper products, plastics, etc. Once you have an understanding of your waste output, you can begin to brainstorm solutions for how to reduce it. Use compostable utensils and strawsCompostable utensils are important if we want to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced by restaurants. Compostable straws are also a great way to reduce your restaurant’s carbon footprint, as they prevent the need to produce and transport traditional straws made from non-renewable materials like petroleum. There are a number of compostable utensil options on the market, so be sure to do your research before making a purchase. Some things you will want to look for include whether the products are certified organic, how long they take to biodegrade, and whether they will disintegrate in water. Serve food in reusable containers, such as to-go boxes or bowls with lidsServing food in reusable containers is another option that can help reduce waste while also increasing overall sales. For example, if your restaurant offers bowls of soup or salads with side items like breadsticks, consider getting a few large plates so customers don’t leave hungry. Be sure to offer straws made from paper rather than traditional petroleum-based plastics since these are better for recycling purposes and won't end up harming the environment. Some restaurants have started offering to-go boxes that come with an order of takeout food, which can eliminate the need for single-use plastic bags and save you money in the long term. Offer a recycling bin for customers' recyclablesRecycling is an important part of reducing waste and of course landfills. Make it easy for your customers to recycle by providing a recycling bin for them. This can be as simple as putting a recycling bin next to the trash can or designating an area of your restaurant specifically for recyclables. If you want to take it a step further, you could even start composting. Composting is the process of breaking down biodegradable materials into organic matter that can be used to fertilize plants. This is a great way to reduce food waste and turn what would have been landfill-bound material into something useful. In addition, the fertilizer can be used for plants in your own vegetable or herb garden. Provide reusable containers that can be washed and reused by the customer at homeReusable containers which can be used by the customer over and over again for other needs are a great way to reduce waste and promote sustainability. This is a great option for take-out restaurants, as well as sit-down establishments. You can find many different types of reusable containers made from a variety of materials, so there is sure to be something that will fit your restaurant’s style and needs. If you are not sure what kind of reusable containers to offer your customers, consider talking with local businesses who have already implemented this type of program. They can give you tips on what has worked well for them and provide advice on how to make the process easier for both you and your customers. Offer discounts on takeout orders if the customer brings their own container instead of using one provided by the restaurantMany restaurants these days are offering their customers the ability to bring their own take-out containers and receive a discount on the order. It is very easy for customers to save money, while also helping out the environment by not using more of your materials than they need to. This ensures that you will keep more of your resources in use after each customer has left if they decide to reuse one of your totes or bowls instead of throwing them away. A great way of encouraging customers who do this is offering discounts if they choose reusable rather than disposable items. For example, give them a 15% off coupon at their next visit when they bring back an old container. This makes it fun for everyone involved, as well as rewarding those who are doing something for our planet every day without it being too straining on the profits of the restaurant. All of these little steps will go a long way in helping you become more sustainable, and can be achieved without needing to spend much money at all. Zero waste doesn't have to be difficult; with just a few small changes, any restaurant can get on board and help make a difference in reducing wastefulness. Implementing these methods can help ensure that your restaurant is moving towards an eco-friendly and sustainable business.