Square-foot for square-foot, the restaurant industry is one of the most energy intensive, yet maybe because dining is a leisure activity, restaurants seem to have fallen under the radar and not been subjected to the consumer pressure to reduce their environmental impacts experienced by other industries, such as Supermarkets and automotive.
Grid electricity is the majority contributor of a typical business’ carbon footprint, for example grid electricity makes up 82% of Tesco’s carbon footprint.
The most effective method of carbon reduction for businesses therefore is switching from grid electricity to renewable energy sources, either by generating renewable energy in-house, which is highly capital intensive, or switching to a renewable energy provider, which also tends to come at an additional cost to the business. Neither of these switching methods is optimal in the current economic climate. A more feasible solution is carbon offsetting.
I am not suggesting that carbon offsetting is superior to carbon reduction, but that it is a plausible alternative, with benefits which are often understated. Restaurants can use carbon offsetting to become carbon neutral if their emissions are equal to the carbon extracted from the atmosphere, during their offsetting.
A major benefit of carbon offsetting is that it can enable restaurants (and other businesses) to become carbon neutral for free. Diners in restaurants participating in The Food For Thought Programme can have a tree planted in the developing world, offsetting the carbon footprint of their bill, for just 99p.
Carbon Free Dining is a brand new initiative to be launched this summer. Diners pay £1.50 for a 2 for 1 text voucher, which funds the carbon offsetting of two 3 course meals and enables one diner to eat for just £1.50. Both of these programmes also enable restaurants to increase their corporate social responsibilities and green images, for free.
Carbon Neutral Restaurants
As consumers, our voices count, in terms of the economy we vote with our feet. So I urge you, support schemes such as Food For Thought and Carbon Free Dining which enable us as consumers to identify carbon neutral restaurants, who are truly committed to managing their environmental impacts.