Turn Your Restaurant Into an Eco-eatery

Tips good for the Earth and your bottom line

Reuse and Reduce



Terra Café sits in the midst of history’s path. The East Coast café is the former home of Red Grill, a hangout for Baltimore residents in the 1950s. Instead of starting anew, Dickson flexed his creative muscle restoring existing fixtures and building details.

“I could’ve came in and done something completely different, but I didn’t see a need for that,” he says.

To add to the retro-ambiance, Dickson furnished Terra Café with tables, chairs, and other used goods he stockpiled from construction projects. By salvaging furniture that would have otherwise gone to landfills, Dickson estimates he saved 40% to 60% of his budget.

To buy used restaurant goods, check out A City Discount and Auction Zip.

Greening Day-to-Day Maintenance

Proper maintenance is crucial to successfully running a restaurant. To function efficiently and effectively, the establishment must be clean and appliances must work. Instead of purchasing regular cleaner, Dickson opts for a concentrated form.

“Most ready-made cleaners consist of mainly water. By buying the concentrated form, you’re not paying for the water,” Jordan says. “A gallon of concentrated window cleaner can make up 50 gallons of the actual cleaning solution,” he adds.

Affordable Water Conservation

Conserving water is one of the most effective ways to lessen your carbon footprint and save money. Low flow valves cost under $100 but can save thousands of dollars annually, Moyer says. He recommends a low flow, pre-rinse spray valve for dishes, which costs about $75.

Dickson purchased toilets with low flush valves for his eatery and estimates it saves 15% to 20% on his water bill annually. “A normal toilet uses 3 to 3.5 gallons of water per flush. A low flush valve uses 1.07 gallons per flush,” he adds.

More quick tips:

Start small. Stagger times for turning on equipments and lights if you come in an hour or more before the eatery opens to the public. Moyer says this can save five hours of energy and help to avoid peak energy charges.

Look for local incentives. Every utility company in each state typically has their own rebates and energy incentive program, says Moyer. Find out what offer your business will be eligible for if going green.

Get paid for used cooking oil. Instead of tossing out old oil, Dickson sells it to a local company that converts oil into diesel fuel. Check with the National Biodiesel Board to find a local diesel renderer.

For more tips and resources, visit:

Energy Star


U.S. Green Building Council

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  • Jima

    This article was motivating, informing and simple in its details on how to begin a green restaurant. I am on my way now. Thank you so much!

  • Carol

    Wow! Very good idea and information. Hopefully many others already established will follow your lead and get on board.

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