According to recent polls, 66% of Americans want to opt for more environmentally friendly choices and they’re willing to pay more for them. This number rises to a whopping 80% when polling those in younger demographics (like Millennials and Gen Z.)

In another study conducted by Southern Cross University, as many as 93% of those polled said that they had a general overall concern about the state of the environment, and 77% wanted to put forth the effort to learn how to be more green-friendly in their everyday lives.

What do these studies tell us? In short, going green is a big interest point for most people, and it’s a worthwhile endeavor for businesses in all industries to go the extra mile to show off just how much they invest in limiting their own carbon footprint. A café is no exception. Afterall, most people start their day with a cup of coffee, and they’d likely prefer to get their morning cup from a café they feel good about.

view of an empty cafe with tables and chairs with the text 'creating a greener space for the perfect cup of coffee' at the top of the image

10 Ways Cafes Can Go Green And Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

1. Source Your Groceries Locally

Local businesses helping local businesses – there’s no better way to network than that! Sourcing your coffee, food, and other perishable goods by local sustainable suppliers isn’t just the “green” decision, it’s the smart one, too. By sourcing locally, your perishable goods won’t have to spend time on the road or in the air wasting resources, they’ll come in fresher, and you’ll be able to build local connections at the same time. When you help your suppliers by sourcing their goods, they’ll be there for you, too. Serve up fresher food, limit your environmental impact, and build a strong community all in one fell swoop.

2. Reduce Food And Material Waste

According to the NDRC, America produces the most food waste in the entire world. In a recent study, it was found that restaurants waste as much as 10% of the perishable goods they buy, and as much as 40% of the food served to customers is never eaten. This hurts restaurants, like cafes, at their bottom line and it contributes to landfill waste.
One thing cafés can do to reduce this waste is to reduce portions on dishes that often go unfinished, and focus on sustainable ways to make use of any accumulated biodegradable refuse. At the end of the day, still-fresh leftover food can be donated to local food banks or organizations, biodegradable waste can be composted and used in gardens or given back to the community, and “throwaway” materials like disposable napkins or plates can be switched out to reusable options instead.

3. Composting

Composting is more important for environmentally friendly cafés than simply an option for food waste. Like sourcing perishables from local suppliers, it also gives cafes a way to give back to the community while building connections. Compost provides a way for café owners to build relationships with local farmers, gardening clubs, landscaping businesses, and other business owners for mutual benefit. Farmers may trade produce for compost, gardening clubs will be more apt to have meetings at your establishment, and other businesses will be more likely to advertise for you and use your café for lunches, morning coffees, or meetings with clients.

4. Recycled Décor And Furniture

Every item recycled is an item that stays out of a local landfill. Recycled décor and furniture is an easy (and cheap) way to build a fun, cozy, and whimsical aesthetic while making an important environmental impact. Recycled décor can be sourced easily around the community, through local marketplace ads, and at yard sales for a café style that costs much less for a lot more personality.

5. Green Energy Use

The average restaurant tends to use as much as seven times more energy per square foot than any other commercial building. Just because it’s the norm, doesn’t mean every café has to follow suit. Switching to LED lighting and opting for solar energy where possible greatly reduces daily energy usage and waste.

6. Give Back To Eco-Friendly Non-Profits

In the same vein as “birds of a feather flock together”, who your café associates with will say a lot about your own values to your customers. Working with and giving back to local eco-friendly non-profits shows the kind of commitment your café has to improve eco-consciousness throughout your community.

7. Reduce Water Usage

Water is absolutely a necessity to keep a clean, tidy, and functional café, but watching your water usage is an easy way to be more environmentally friendly. Café owners may install low-flow faucets that can reduce water usage in sinks by up to 50%, or install modern water-saving dishwashers (both of which can pay for themselves over time through lowered utility cost.)
Water usage can also be incorporated into employee training, teaching employees both seasoned and new about the importance of saving water and how it can be done during everyday operations at the café.

8. Opting For Plant Based Menus

In a recent study by Leiden University, it was found that switching to a plant-based diet not only reduces the current environmental impact of food production, but actually draws more carbon from the atmosphere over time. Having plant-based options or an entirely plant-based menu allows your café to promote a more environmentally sustainable diet while still showcasing your exemplary culinary skills.

9. Eliminate Disposable Utensils

Plastic straws, paper plates, and Styrofoam cups might seem like café mainstays, but all they really do is leave a lasting mark on local landfills. Opting for reusable cups, plates, utensils, and straws is a simple way to almost completely eliminate this unnecessary waste. Branded coffee mugs with your own café logo look sharp on customer tables, and a few extras can even be offered for sale so your regulars can rep their favorite coffee spot at home.

For necessary disposable materials, like in the case of to-go orders, opting for a biodegradable or eco-friendly material option still aids in carbon footprint reduction.

10. Organic And Fair-Trade Coffee

A good cup of coffee tastes even better when customers know they’re making a difference with every sip. Opting for organic and fair-trade coffee suppliers gives you a stand-out product everyone can feel good about. Not only are you making a local impact, but you’re also making a global one knowing that your beans have contributed to fair wages for coffee farmers and building better communities around the world.

Every Step Counts

When going green with your café, every little step you take counts. From reducing water to opting for sustainable energy to doing away with disposable utensils, you’re making a positive impact. If you’re ready to take your café to a greener place, we have tableware to represent your brand in a customizable, eco-friendly, and stylish way. To get started, view our customizable stoneware coffee cup gallery and request a quote today.

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