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How to Make Your Bar or Restaurant Green(er)

by Jim Martin

Santa Cruz consumers want to feel good about the places where they spend their money. Being environmentally friendly isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for your bar or restaurant as well! Here are a few ways to “green” your restaurant or bar:

Look at your equipment and lighting. Replace old light bulbs with energy efficient ones. Look for the Energy Star symbol when purchasing equipment such as refrigerators, ventilation systems, and appliances like griddles and ovens. Think green for office gear like computers, monitors and phones. EnergyStar.gov has a list of green equipment.

Conserve water. The EPA says plastics are the fourth largest category of municipal waste. Instead of water bottles, use reusable water glasses, or set up a self-serve water station with reusable glasses. Use low-flow toilets and install flow restrictors on your faucets. You’ll see your water bill decrease.

Recycle your toner cartridges. You can refill them yourself or buy recycled cartridges, so there’s no excuse for throwing them in the trash. You can also donate them to a local school recycling program.

Use biodegradable paper products. Avoid styrofoam and invest in recycled paper products.

Set up recycling bins throughout your restaurant. If you have a fast-food restaurant, set up clearly marked separate bins for trash and recycling. If you run a full service bar or restaurant, make sure employees know to separate the recycling from the trash.

Use hand dryers in the restroom. They are much more environmentally friendly than wasteful paper towels, and newer models dry hands almost as fast as paper.

Go organic. You can buy both organic and locally grown foods to reduce the use of toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Plus, using local foods reduces the pollution from gas required for long-distance transportation.

Get involved. Make yourself a part of the green community by staying current on green issues. Attend green trade shows or ask employees, friends and customers to help you create a green environment.

Promote. You don’t benefit by keeping your green efforts quiet. Make sure customers know about them by promoting your green policies on your website and through signage in your bar or restaurant.

Brainstorm with your SCORE mentor for more ideas on greening your bar or restaurant. You can learn how to become a certified green restaurant and find more information on how to go green at the Green Restaurant Association website. Thanks to Spike TV for these ideas.