12 ways to be responsible that won't bash the balance sheet
1 THINK QUALITY NOT QUANTITY Cut food waste by 20% and save up to £7,000, says Sustainable Restaurant Association managing director Mark Linehan.
"The average restaurant is wasting almost half a kilo of food per diner per meal and it's costing them £35,000 a year," he explains. "So it makes sense to think quality not quantity. Think creatively, offer smaller portion sizes and ask customers if they'd like to take their leftovers home."
Check out the SRA's Too Good To Waste campaign www.toogood-towaste.co.uk, which has details of a biodegradable "doggy box" as well as advice and comments from chefs.
"January is the perfect time to start thinking about ways of running your business more sustainably. And there are so many things restaurants can do that are low cost but offer significant financial returns," Linehan adds.
In addition, you may want to consider a waste-disposal machine that chops wasted food up so it then doesn't go to landfill.
2 GET INTO THE GARDEN If you've got a bit of garden, why not grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs for the kitchen. You can even cultivate flowers to decorate your hotel or restaurant, which will reduce your florists' bill.
or Shaun Dickens, who is head chef and farm manager at Fallowfields Hotel & Restaurant, Oxford. (www.fallowfields.com).
Dickens is responsible for £480,000 in revenue, a brigade of six, a kitchen porter and two staff in the garden and farm. He also oversees the rare-breed livestock, kitchen
garden, orchards, incubation of poultry eggs and abattoir slaughter schedules. Planting schedules, pruning of the 150 trees in the orchards and farm maintenance all fall within his remit, too.
But fear not, this can also be done on a smaller scale. If you have only a small plot of land, you can still reduce your shopping bill by contributing some home-grown produce to the menu - even if it's just a few herbs on a window sill.
And even if you don't have a garden there are ways of growing. For example, private bank Coutts has a vegetable garden on the roof of its London headquarters. It includes over 9,000 organic plants including vegetables, fruit, herbs and edible flowers. All of the produce is being used daily by executive chef Peter Fiori.
"Not only do we have access to the ultimate fresh produce for the kitchen, which is picked at exactly the optimum size, taste and texture, but there are other benefits, too, such as reduced air and road miles," he says. "We can honestly say that all of our recipes contain some element of the garden and we cook using the produce that is ready, from lemon verbena to flavour the crème brÁ»lée to edible flowers to decorate the plate."
3 THINK BEFORE YOU USE IT It's true that some modern dishwashers can use less water than washing by hand. To be really efficient, however, you need to make sure you and your team use the dishwasher only when it's full, thereby saving both water and electricity. And, of course, use only phosphate-free detergents.
Similarly, train your staff to switch off appliances such as the extractor fan when the oven is not in use, the gas burners when there's nothing cooking on the hob and all lights in storerooms or unused areas.
4 USE A WATERMARK A running kitchen tap can use up to 20 litres of water every minute, so put a mark in the sink and train your chefs never to fill above it when cleaning vegetables. It may seem like a small thing, but it can save gallons of water over the year depending on how big your sink is and how often you use it. If you're nifty you can then use the water on your houseplants or lawn.
5 RATIONALISE YOUR ORDERS Talk to your suppliers and neighbouring restaurants about grouping deliveries to provide economies of scale. In this way, you cut down on carbon, have more bargaining power and develop a useful supply network. Obviously, if you can purchase most of your produce locally, so much the better. Besides food, consider purchasing guest amenities, such as shampoo, in bulk and then decant them into refillable dispensers. If you decide against this, you could consider donating used soap and shampoo to people in need - in the USA there are programmes such as www.cleantheworld.com, www.globalsoap.org or www.recyclebank.com.
6 GET BUTCHERING Serving your diners popular cuts of meat, such as steak or chops, is an expensive way to do your purchasing and contributes to the generation of demand for certain parts of the animal, potentially leading to waste.
So, instead of buying select cuts of meat, buy a whole carcass - preferably sustainably reared - and use as much of it as you can. This way you can cut down on deliveries, reduce the cost of the meat and serve your customers some new and exciting dishes. Being able to name the farm where the animal was reared is also good for marketing.
Chefs such as Fergus Henderson at St John in London led the way in cooking up every bit of the animal from ears to tail, but there are still plenty of mainstream cuts, such as liver and kidney, that can be used. And, for instance, if you are left with any tough meat with lots of connective tissue, you can grind it into mincemeat and use it in sausages, meatballs, pasta dishes and ragu.
7 CLEAN THE FRIDGE
Making a small investment in a coil brush to clean dusty refrigerator coils every three to six months can improve refrigerator efficiency by an average of 25%.
How does this work? Well, condenser coils in your fridge cool a refrigerant liquid, which in turn chills the air inside the fridge. However, as the coils are usually located at the back of the fridge or near the floor, they get covered with lint, dust and dirt, which stops them from working as efficiently.
To clean them thoroughly and safely you need to turn off the fridge's power switch and unplug it from the wall. Condenser coils are usually situated at the back of the
fridge, so you'll have to pull it out and remove the grill plate to work on it. Simply push the coil brush back and forward between, above and under all the coils to remove the dirt. To finish off, use a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to suck up any lint. Then, replace the grill plate, reconnect power supply, turn fridge back on and make a note to clean coils again in - ideally - three months.
8 THROW MORE LIGHT ON THE SITUATION Why not cut your lighting bills and carbon footprint while boosting your light source? Take Bristol-based catering supplier Pattersons, which has reduced its annual consumption of carbon and electricity by 73% through addressing its lighting. The company now makes an annual saving of £10,420 in electricity and maintenance costs, 23,000kg of CO2 and 113,214kWh of energy.
Patterson's light fittings were regularly failing and the cost of re-lamping was proving expensive. It installed high-level luminaries in the warehouse that have increased light levels, yet reduced maintenance costs, owing to the virtually maintenance-free specifications.
In addition, the installation was eligible for enhanced capital allowance tax benefits. Combined with reduced maintenance and electricity costs, these savings mean that the project will have financed itself in less than four years.
9 GET YOUR GUESTS TO DO THE RECYCLING Provide recycling baskets in all guestrooms for newspaper, white paper, glass, aluminium, cardboard, and plastic. In addition, put recycling bins in public areas, such as the poolside, and back of house in the kitchen and at each desk in the back office to make recycling as easy as possible.
10 BUTT OUT** The award-winning sustainable Lovat hotel on Loch Ness uses two 500-litre Ben Nevis Whisky water butts for rainwater harvesting. The water is then used for watering indoor plants and the garden. Caroline Greggory, managing partner at The Lovat, comments: " For me, sustainability is another word for survival. It is about sourcing and using local produce, supporting the community and having an eco-conscious outlook on how your business operates daily."
Take note that if you use collected water from another source, such as bathwater, you may be contaminating your garden or vegetables with chemicals and soaps.
11 TRIPLE-GLAZE THE OVEN AND SAVE 40% ON ENERGY If you want to splash out, you could double- or triple-glaze your oven doors. This prevents heat from escaping, which means less energy is used to do the cooking. It also means that the external parts of the oven remain cool to the touch.
Some manufacturers market hobs that monitor the heat on a burner and cut the gas supply when there is a drop in temperature, ensuring no gases are wasted and improving safety.
12 MAKE A CLEAN SWEEP Use Eâ'cloths with microfibres for cleaning to reduce the use of more costly and less eco-friendly chemicals.
RESPONSIBLE HOSPITALITY RESOURCE
For more information on how to run your business responsibly, visit our online resource www.catererandhotelkeeper.com/responsible-hospitality.
The Responsible Hospitality channel, supported by Accor, Gram UK and Kraft Foods, features tools and guidance that will help you reduce waste and energy usage, while offering examples and information on increasing recycling, ethical food sourcing and social responsibility.