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According to Vice News, the restaurant industry is one of the most wasteful1. As more and more of the world becomes aware of climate change, local eateries are taking action to reduce the ecological footprints of their businesses.
In 2012 restaurateurs Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz had a daughter and imagined her growing up in the changing climate. This inspired them to start a truly sustainable restaurant1, the Perennial, which is certified as a San Francisco Green Business2.
Nathan, an urban farmer who runs Living Systems for the Perennial Restaurant and Bar, uses almost no soil and little water to grow perennials, plants with long life cycles and deep roots, which keep more carbon sequestered in the soil by removing it from the atmosphere and storing it. Dozens of wacky plant varieties are grown at Living Systems including hibiscus, Chilean blueberries, and Australian finger limes also known as citrus caviar1.
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Nathan starts by collecting all of the restaurant scraps, which are fed to red wiggler worms and maggots. The maggots are used to turn all of the meat, dairy, and bread food wastes that cannot be broken down by the worms into soil. The worms and maggots are then collected and fed to fish. This method by which the greenhouse is entirely farmed is called aquaponics. Aquaponics uses the ammonia produced by the fish waste to fertilize the vegetables for Perennial. Basically, the restaurant scraps feed the worms and maggots, which feed the fish whose poop feeds the vegetables that feed the restaurant1.
The bread at Perennial is made with perennial grains, and the meat comes from carbon farms. Carbon farms utilize managed grazing on perennial grasslands, which help pull carbon from the air. Even the napkins are sustainable: the napkins are cotton (one of the most biodegradable fabrics), naturally dyed, and lack seams. This way once they ware out, they can be shredded and fed to the worms for compost. Instead of using wood chips to smoke meats, walnut shells are saved from previous dishes3. All of the cocktails at the bar are water waste conscious, so sustainability doesn’t end at the plate. Believe it or not, these are just some of the eco-friendly techniques implemented by the Perennial.
With hundreds of reviews and 4 out of 5 stars, the Perennial is not just sustainable, the food and drinks are delicious.
Similarly, restauranteur Douglas McMaster opened up the UK’s first zero-waste restaurant, Silo in 2014. Everything is produced and created on site using strictly seasonal produce. The restaurant lacks a waste bin altogether and all food wastes are composted. Silo makes its own yogurt, ferments its own vinegars, mills flour, grows mushrooms, creates chocolate from bean to bar, and works back-to-front, always with the bin in mind. The entire restaurant is cleaned using no chemicals or packaging. This is accomplished through an electrolyzed oxidized water system. Tap water goes through reverse osmosis and then is electrolyzed. This creates water that’s more hygienic than hand soap, which is used to clean the whole facility4. All of the furniture has been made from material that would otherwise have been thrown away. The mass efforts of Silo’s environmentalism don’t end with these.
Silo’s website proclaims that the restaurant was born from “a desire to innovate the food industry whilst demonstrating respect: respect for the environment, respect for the way our food is generated, and respect for the nourishment given to our bodies.”
Beautifully said by Silo’s founder and Chef, McMaster, “waste is a failure of the imagination.”
Like the Perennial, Silo also has hundreds of reviews with 4 out of 5 stars and has been deemed the most important restaurant in the UK.
Next time you wine and dine, consider doing so at an environmentally conscious restaurant. As living a sustainable lifestyle continues to popularize, finding an ecologically friendly restaurant to eat at is slowly becoming easier. If you live in a major city such as San Francisco, Brighton, or Denver, there’s a high chance a sustainable eatery is near you.