If you’ve ever thought about going green you may have thought it to be a daunting task. While that can be true, you shouldn’t let it stop you from making use of some basic money-saving tips you can utilize around your home or business.
In the past few decades the green movement has touched every industry in the United States. But one industry that still needs a lot of work is the catering services industry. Producing food is one of the most resource hungry and environmentally impacting activities humans do on a daily basis. If you’re new to the catering industry, or already own a successful catering business, right now is the best time to adjust your business practices to become more environmentally friendly.
Here are a few tips you can follow to help save your business money and reduce its impact on the environment.
Preparation and Storage
Food prep is probably the most resource hungry portion of catering, due to the sheer amount of energy it takes to transport, refrigerate, and cook food. You obviously can’t skimp on the refrigeration or cooking but here’s a few ways you can reduce your impact.
- Buy Local – Supply your kitchen with as many local foods as you can. Most food at the store travels hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles to get to you. These long journeys require a lot of fuel and energy to transport the food and keep it preserved. Local food doesn’t have to travel as far and will always arrive fresher.
- Buy Organic – Purchase food from local, organic farms. Any farms that utilize renewable energy and sustainable farming practices should be considered first to maximize the benefits of purchasing organic.
- Less Mess – Integrating a “less mess” policy in your kitchen will reduce your overall need for heavy, wasteful cleaning. This alone can save a lot of water and reduce your need for harsher cleaning chemicals. If your area’s health code allows for it, consider installing a gray water system. You can use this system to remove stuck on food debris from pots, pans, and dishes with recycled water.
- Renewable Energy – Purchasing renewable energy from the power company or installing a couple solar panels and skylights on the roof will reduce your carbon footprint. This may also have financial rewards in the form of government vouchers or tax incentives.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Reduce waste by reusing things you’d otherwise throw away and covering things with reusable lids instead of plastic wrap. Recycle all metals, plastics and paper products. Compost waste food and food soiled paper like napkins or paper towels.
Traveling to and from catering events is another large resource hog. Consider purchasing or leasing an electric van or hybrid truck. If you can’t afford that, get a truck fueled by bio diesel. It’s a lot better for the environment than petroleum diesel.
Another option to consider is converting your own truck to run on the used vegetable oil from your kitchen. This alone could significantly reduce your costs and impact, because you’re reusing something you’d otherwise throw out.
Presentation and Serving
Implement eco-friendly practices here and your customers will take notice! Here are two things to consider when transforming the way you present and serve your food.
- Use Propane – If you’re serving food that needs to remain hot make use of propane burners where possible, unlike natural gas, propane is not considered a greenhouse gas.
- Compostable – There are lots of biodegradable and compostable options. Plastic dishes made from corn have been around for quite some time and the great thing about them is that they’re entirely compostable.
- Use Ice – Ice is a better option than using gasoline powered refrigeration from a truck or generator. In situations where larger capacity refrigeration is required, consider something powered with biodiesel.
Use separate containers for collecting recyclable goods like plastic bottles and aluminum cans from your guests. In addition to the recycling containers you’ll also want to put out a container for collecting food waste and food soiled paper waste. Food soiled paper cannot be recycled but it can be composted and given new life as fertilizer for the garden, instead of death at the dump.
Looking to the Future
Taking a few small steps now will translate into big savings later, as well as a large, positive impact on the environment year after year for the life of your catering business. Although it may look like a big investment in the short run, it’ll be worth it in the long run. Besides, offering green friendly catering its sure to be a hit with other businesses and eco-friendly corporations dedicated to going green themselves.
A self-professed foodie, Richard Bracke loves to dine at new restaurants and try out new food combinations in attempt to be constantly refining his tastes and palate. In his spare time he enjoys writing tips that help small businesses owners go green.