How To Make Your Food Business Sustainable

Estimated reading time: 5 mins

If you’re a small business owner, your company’s mission statement includes some of these words: sustainable, environmentally friendly, and green. 

Maybe you’ve even made promises to customers about going green, or reducing waste and changing your food packaging boxes. But have you done anything about it? If so, good for you! Sustainable living isn’t just good for the planet but also for business. 

Here are some easy steps every food business can take to become more sustainable and maybe even save some money in the process:

  1. Establish Your Values

Your values are the beliefs and principles that guide your business. They should be clear and consistent, ethical and fair, authentic and honest, meaningful and inspiring. 

The most effective way to establish your values is through collaboration with staff members who deeply understand what’s vital for you as an individual or as a team. Once you’ve established them (which may take time), ensure that they’re presented in a way that resonates with potential customers so they can see how those values align with their needs or desires.

  1. Partner With Local Farms

When you’re buying produce, consider partnering with local farms. Buying from farms that are certified organic, humane, fair trade, or chemical-free will help your business be sustainable in other ways.

Ask your customers if you’re unsure which farms to buy from. Most people want to know where their food comes from, and many will be more than happy to give you the names of farms and markets that produce sustainable products. In addition, partner with local farmers by helping them raise money for any equipment they may need by hosting fundraisers at your restaurant or cafe.

  1. Audit Your Supply Chain

One of the best ways to make your food business more sustainable is by auditing your supply chain. You must know where all ingredients come from, who processes them, and what type of packaging they use. 

It would be best if you also considered minimizing waste during production so it can be recycled or composted instead of being sent to landfills. With a little effort on everyone’s part, we can create change. Note that it’s essential to look for sustainable products grown by local farmers. 

Fruits, vegetables, and other edible plants cultivated organically without pesticides or chemical fertilizers are examples of sustainable foods. These fruits should be left on the vine until they ripen naturally before being harvested (typically in June) and stored in low-humidity refrigerators until ready to eat.

  1. Use Sustainable Materials

‘Plastic is a major contributor to pollution. It’s not biodegradable, recyclable, compostable or renewable and therefore does not contribute to a sustainable business.’

AdobeStock 305884650
AdobeStock 305884650

You might think getting rid of plastic in your food business would be difficult, but it isn’t. You can start by making your customers aware of the harmful effects of using non-biodegradable plastics and encouraging them to bring their containers for takeaway food. Doing this tells customers that you care about the environment and want them to do their part too.

As a food business owner, you are responsible for your community and the environment. Sustainable materials are better for the earth because they don’t produce as much waste. They can be recycled into other products or used as compost in gardens. 

When you use sustainable materials, you’re helping to keep these resources available for other companies that want to use them.

Sustainable food packaging options include:

  • Bags made from recycled plastic bottles 
  • Paperboard containers with less waste than traditional boxes and containers made of corrugated fiberboard that uses less paper than conventional cardboard boxes
  • Recycled glass jars with airtight lids instead of cans which create more carbon emissions when manufactured
  1. Manage Water Usage

Water is one of the most precious resources in the world, and one of the most important ingredients in food. The average restaurant uses 2 to 3 gallons of water per person per day. If you’re operating at a high-volume restaurant or catering business, that amount can increase dramatically, and that’s before you factor in equipment maintenance.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to use water efficiently. First, ensure your kitchen and equipment are properly cleaned so that they don’t waste water during washing or cleaning cycles (this will also save you money on cleaning products).

Second, try using a water meter on each faucet: this will show exactly how much water is being used by each sink or dishwasher cycle so that staff members can adjust their habits accordingly. 

Finally, ensure all employees understand which areas need extra attention when it comes to saving water usage; the more everyone understands why we need to do this now more than ever before.

  1. Stop food waste.

As a food business, it is pretty easy to have staggering quantities of waste owing to various factors such as faulty supply chains and acquiring damaged food products. With how simple it is to waste food; it is shockingly simple to not waste it while saving your business money and energy.

One of the most effective ways to reduce food wastage is through recycling and compost.

Recycling may be the more popular option for reducing waste, but composting is a great way to reduce the amount of waste your business generates. If you’re used to throwing away food scraps and other organic matter (like coffee grounds), try adding them to your compost pile. This simple step will surprise you how much trash can be diverted from landfills.

Composting can help improve soil quality by returning nutrients to the earth where plants need them most. It’s also a cost-effective way for businesses, and individuals, to save money on garbage disposal because it doesn’t require extra energy or fuel costs as incinerators do. 

Composting also gives you another way to reuse leftover food items by turning them into something new: nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden or houseplants.


Hopefully, this article has given you food for thought. If you’re already working on sustainability in your business, congratulations! And if not, don’t worry; taking steps toward sustainability can often feel overwhelming and unfamiliar. 

The most important thing is to start somewhere and keep going forward with whatever works best for your business.

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