You Are Where You Eat

WRITTEN BY Meg O' Doherty

June 1, 2022

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You Are Where You Eat

Meg O' Doherty

1 Jun, 2022

With the countdown on to lower global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and to protect our planet, individuals and businesses alike are making changes for the sake of the environment. Luckily, these changes don’t have to rob us of life’s simple pleasures, such as food. There are simple steps we can all take to collectively work towards a more sustainable future.

 

 Food consumption is one area in which we can make a big difference – be it from consuming less meat to sourcing local produce, your carbon footprint will thank you for it. But how can we remain conscious when it comes to eating out? With food being such a central part of our lives and culture, it’s no wonder that many people wish to approach their diet more sustainably. After all, you are what you eat, or in this case, where you eat.

 

The restaurant industry has a significant impact on the environment. In terms of food waste alone, it is estimated that Ireland generates over 1 million tonnes of waste annually, with 203,342 tonnes of this attributed to restaurants and food services. This waste has significant consequences in terms of emissions, with food waste accounting for approximately 10% of global GHG emissions. However, the industry is also reliant on the environment for its survival. The climate crisis threatens global food security and in turn, the entire food industry. This means that it is in the restaurant industry’s best interest to take steps towards more planet-friendly practices, and why we as consumers should opt for sustainably-driven restaurants where possible.

Here are a few things to look out for when trying to choose a restaurant that doesn’t cost the planet:

  1. They are a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA): The SRA defines sustainability standards within the food services industry, provides sustainability ratings to members,  and offers support to members striving to ingrain sustainability throughout their business. BuJo, located in Foursquare and Castleknock, is the only burger joint in the UK and Ireland to receive a 3 star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (and is powered by renewable energy!).
  2. Their produce is seasonal and locally sourced: Locally sourced, seasonal produce has a lower carbon footprint as it requires fewer resources related to travel, refrigeration and packaging in its journey from the ground to your plate. One of our favourite spots is Sprout & co, who offer seasonal, locally-sourced, and healthy food options. 
  3. They offer plant-based options: Whether you’re a die-hard vegan or are dipping your toe into the plant-based world, choosing a plant-based meal is a great way to reduce the impact of your lunch. Going meat-free just one day a week for a year could save GHG emissions equivalent to a car journey from London to Edinburgh. Cornucopia of Wicklow Street provides wholesome vegan and vegetarian dishes, perfect to get you started.
  4. They take action to reduce and manage their waste: as mentioned before, minimising food waste is an important element of lowering the carbon footprint of a restaurant. Research shows that 60% of food waste from the food services industry is avoidable. Apps like Too Good To Go offer an ideal solution for restaurants with excess products to dispose of. It is also vital that businesses are reducing and managing the rest of their waste too, including general waste and recycling. Restaurants should have solid waste training programs in place for their staff and shouldn’t be afraid to get creative. Bread 41, located on Pearse Street, introduced initiatives such as ‘No cup, no coffee’ to encourage the use of reusable coffee cups, and began charging customers for paper bags in an effort to reduce waste.
  5. They look beyond the menu: Of course, there are more ways for a restaurant to be sustainable than just through food. They, like any business, could take the opportunity to strive for energy efficiency and recycled décor in their premises. Wren Urban Nest, just a stone’s throw from Trinity College, is fighting for the title of Dublin’s most sustainable place to stay. The hotel is Ireland’s first net carbon hotel, using 100% renewable energy and the furniture in the bar is made from repurposed wood (and their menu is pretty impressive too). 

 

The good news  is that the options available to the citizens of Dublin are plentiful and varied. From seasonal salads to vegan burgers, there is something for everyone. Keep an eye out for future volumes of Utopia The Edit where we will take a deep dive into the sustainability practices of some beloved local restaurants. 

 

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