Local Restaurants Strive To Be More Sustainable
Local restaurants are taking to earn the "green," environmentally-friendly stamp of approval and the boost in business that might come with it. NY1's Money Matters reporter Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
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When the owners of Café Metro in Midtown Manhattan decided they wanted to be more environmentally-friendly at their 13 locations, they found it wasn't as easy as they thought.
"We tried to do it ourselves at first, thinking, 'Okay, this is great, this is easy enough to do.' It's not that easy," says Café Metro marketing director Ty Sullivan.
So they hired BigGreenG, a green certification program that started a year ago and now has 90 restaurants on its roster. The transformation starts with a complete audit of the existing eatery.
"We take a look at their lighting, we take a look at their water, we take a look at their food, we take a look at the products that they use to clean," says BigGreenG co-founder Jamie Blumenthal. "Immediately we'll work with them to take the simplest steps that make the most sense for them."
Improvements include installing hand dryers to getting more efficient light bulbs. BigGreenG's founders say the moves make environmental and economic sense, as it lowers a business's bills and hopefully increases revenue.
"All statistics show there has been an exponential growth rate of customers who prefer to shop at green businesses," says BigGreenG co-founder Jeff Schlieder.
While they are not sure yet of the effects on revenue, the Café Metro management says customers noticed the difference and expressed their appreciation.
"We actually do get email from them saying, 'Oh, we see that you recycle. Terrific. I wish more places would be like you.'"
To help consumers identify "green" business, BigGreenG has developed a rating system. Eateries are evaluated in nine different categories, from recycling to water conservation to earth-friendly foods, with each certification listed on the company's website and in the restaurant itself.
The only establishment to achieve certification in all nine categories is Gustorganics in Chelsea, where a menu printed with soy ink contains 100-percent organic food that is served under skylights on tables made of recycled wood.
"There are a lot of companies that only care about stepping into the 'green' wave to sell more of the same with no integrity or any values," says owner Alberto Gonzalez of Gustorganics. "But you know the movers and shakers of our society really know and have the sensitivity to differentiate the businesses that are doing the right thing. So that helps the business but also helps the planet."
Blumenthal thinks any step can make a difference.
"Whatever the motivation is, whatever the reason is, as long as they are doing something and taking a part and playing a part in becoming more sustainable that's really what counts," says Blumenthal.