Restaurants, as a whole, waste a lot of food. American establishments alone discard 517 tons a year, and owners, operators, and chefs from around the world are equally responsible for squandering such shocking amounts of sustenance. This begs the critical question: how do we minimize our waste, and in turn create a more sustainable industry? The good news is that some chefs and restaurants are ahead of the curve, already getting creative when it comes to reducing, reusing, and recycling the ingredients they use. To shed some light on these efforts, we’ve compiled a list of restaurants around the world doing their best to limit their environmental footprint, all while still delivering a world class dining experience!
Silo, Brighton, England
Every aspect of Silo is eco-friendly — even the building itself. As soon as you walk in, you’ll notice that the restaurant is a fan of upcycling (also known as creative reuse), boasting plates made from plastic bags, tables forged from floor tiles, and wood benches that were previously used as cabinet frames. Food is also delivered in wooden crates (instead of single-use plastic packaging), and what small amount of scraps is left over from the kitchen goes into Silo’s aerobic digester composter, which it shares with residential and commercial community members to promote local waste reduction. When patronizing Silo, you can enjoy your delicious pastries and fresh seafood knowing they were prepared with the environment in mind.
Haven’s Kitchen, New York City, U.S.A
Haven’s Kitchen wears many hats — and all of them are sustainable. As a multipurpose space, Haven’s lends itself to an all-day café, social hub, and private event venue for weddings, meet-and-greets, and even cooking classes. Those preparing the food do their best to find a purpose for every scrap. From tomato stems to soy milk dregs leftover from lattes, everything will be reused, and only after that will it be composted. Haven’s partners with Baldor Speciality Foods, whose SparCs (“scraps” spelled backward) program aims to cut down on food waste by reselling food trims and peels that would normally be thrown out. And in addition, Haven’s also makes a point to purchase what others view as undesirable cuts of meat, saving a ton of food from the garbage, all of which ends up just as tasty as the “premium” stuff. So be sure to stop by Haven’s next time you’re in NYC, even if it’s just for a coffee!
Instock, the Netherlands
Instock has a simple mission: rescue food…from being wasted, that is. Those behind this eatery saw an overwhelming amount of food being tossed out around the world and started doing something about it in their homeland. Instead of letting products like blemished fruits and vegetables, day-old bread, and surplus meats go in the trash, Instock purchases them from local Albert Heijn supermarkets. This not only helps the planet — a four-course meal here saves roughly four pounds of CO2 and 2470 liters of water — but also makes for some creative and flavorful dishes like fermented veggie burgers and soups made from rescued vegetables! And now with three locations to choose from across the country, you won’t find yourself far from an Instock during your time in the Netherlands.
CRAFT Beer Market, Canada
With locations in Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Toronto, CRAFT Beer Market covers a wide-stretching region with its sustainable services. Though it’s known for its sophisticated comfort food and endless craft beer list, CRAFT also owns the title as the biggest LEAF-certified (Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice) restaurant in Canada, going above and beyond what you might expect from a typical chain. Each location follows a rigid recycling and composting program, which ensures as little waste as possible. Additionally, the company uses biodegradable to-go containers and napkins, and sells Vivreau’s reusable glass water bottles, donating$1 to Ocean Wise with each purchase. Be sure to check it out on your next journey north!
HERMANN’S, Berlin, Germany
At HERMANN’S, it’s all about the future — and ensuring that it’s a green one. This is a locale where people push the limits of just how sustainable a restaurant can be, by changing not just what we eat, but our mindset around it as well.. This means being mindful of our ecosystem when farming, foraging, and consuming. At HERMANN’S you’ll find classic dishes like sandwiches and salads featuring local ingredients, but the restaurant also challenges itself with special events, such as preparing algae-based food for fifty seaweed scientists, and hosting kitchen takeovers with other industry leaders, like the guys behind the zero-waste restaurant Nolla in Helsinki (whose restaurant is currently closed and in the process of moving). With places like HERMANN’S leading the charge, the industry’s future looks bright.
MANA!, Hong Kong
At MANA!, you’ll find tasty wraps, burgers, soups, and flatbreads, but you won’t find anything being wasted. With a mantra of “Food that doesn’t cost the Earth,” the company aims to change fast food for the better with plant-based nutrition and a zero-waste mission, promoting a sustainable lifestyle for people in Hong Kong and beyond. By using eco-friendly products through and through, MANA! embodies what it wants the future of food to look like — organic, ethical, and eco-friendly. MANA! also is involved with local initiatives and alliances, most recently helping to promote a petition to ban all single-use plastics in Hong Kong.
The Market Place, Asheville, North Carolina
The Market Place has been around since 1979 and is a trailblazer when it comes to locally sourced ingredients and sustainable cooking. Now a staple in downtown Asheville, the restaurant is operated by executive chef and owner, William Dessen, winner of the “Green Chef of the Year” award in 2013. His innovative menu reflects the restaurant’s relationship with its location in the hills of North Carolina, allowing guests to enjoy the beauty and importance of farm-to-table cuisine that results in little-to-no wasted ingredients. The menu currently boasts a decadent collection of seasonal dishes, in-house cheeses, and craft cocktails, all of which support neighboring farms — both small and large — while illustrating the important connections a restaurant can and should have with its surrounding communities.
Hungry yet? Be sure to check out our list of foodie guides from around the world before you go!
Cover Photo by Alex Ortega