Sustainable Business; Cafes, Restaurants and Bars

Sustainable Ethical Restaurants, Cafe and Bars

After I saw images of George Floyd’s treatment by US police officers last weekend, and the subsequent call to support the Black Lives Matter protests, I decided to join others and pull back on social media posts not about this issue. It felt wrong to continue as normal when we may well have witnessed the murder of an unarmed man by representatives of a state.

It’s hard to know how best to respond when something like this happens. I’ve always been the type to speaks out when I witness injustice or inequality and I will continue to do that, but I want to do more in my day to day life too. So, in addition to donating to #BLM causes, I want to help balance out the whitewashing that can happen in the sustainability sphere by positively discriminate stories about sustainable ethical enterprises and organisation run by ethic minorities and in non-white countries. It’s so easy to become complacent about the narrow-range of information that the Google or Facebook algorithm drops on your virtual doorstep. We need to actively seek out diversity if we want to promote it. If you come across any such stories or organisation do let me know.

This week’s blog post is the second in my series on sustainable business; this time looking at cafes, restaurants and bars.


This is my 201st blog post. Woohoo!!!!!
Nothing mentioned in this post has been sponsored. It’s all just my own personal opinion. If you like your bloggers to remain independent then please share this post or support me with a small monthly donation via Patreon or with a once off donation via Paypal.


Below is a list of tips on how to go about running a more sustainable eatery, but before you delve in here’s a short video about a restaurant in London that’s given up single-use plastic and another on a zero waste restaurant in England.


  • Don’t automatically give straws. Let people ask for one if they need one.
  • Invite customers to ask for napkins instead of giving them out automatically.
  • Invite customers to use their own containers for take-away. Check out my blog post on how best to facilitate customer’s own containers.
  • Give discounts for reusable coffee cups and get listed on the conscious cup’s cafe map.
  • If you use compostable single-use cups or containers for take-away provide a designated bin for them and explain why.
  • Support the initiative Refill and allow people to refill their reusable bottles on your premises.
  • Klee Paper in Ireland sell compostable single-use gloves


Food Waste

  • Try close-looped cocktail ingredients instead of fresh fruit based ones, which generate a lot of waste.
  • If you’ve a lot of food waste back of house review your menu. There is a recipe for every leftover, you just have to find it. If large amounts of food waste are unavoidable consider installing a food digester
  • Build your menu around locally sourced package-free ingredients and promote that to your customers.
  • Reduce food waste by encouraging people to take their leftovers home, mentioning that you accept customers own containers or have compostable containers to facilitate this practice.


Food & Drink

  • Wine lab sell wine dispenser taps in Ireland. These use kegs thereby reducing your glass bottle waste.
  • Infinity Water Systems offer a refill system in Ireland for bottled sparkling or still water without the waste and cost associated with traditional bottled waters.
  • Consider the proportion of plant-based ingredients and meals you offer. See if you can increase the number of vegan or vegetarian options, or add plant-based milks and desserts to your menu.



  • Urban volt install LED lights with no money down. They get paid from a percentage of the savings you make from using less energy. They’re based in the US and Ireland.
  • Switch energy provider to one that offers the highest percentage of renewable energy.


Promotional Literature

  • Print posters with offers and invite customers to photograph it instead of doing individual catalogues / leaflets
  • Source your stationary from Klee Paper or another eco-stationary brand.



  • Linea Zero is a range of professional cleaning products that are fully biodegradable and based on plant ingredients. Green Leaf Services offer office cleaning services with low-impact products within the Dublin area.
  • Use unbleached recycled toilet roll in your toilets.
  • Source your cleaning products from Klee Paper or another eco-stationary brand.


Fixtures and Fittings

  • Buy second hand when refurbishing or fitting out your premises. Auction Xchange and Allstop Trading are good sources for second-hand catering equipment. Other resources can be found in this blog post; where to buy second-hand items
  • Consider using waxed cotton for outdoor signs – like this one from Millbee Studio –  instead of plastic coated ones
  • If getting a permanent sign consider having a painted one instead of a 3D one. If you do want a 3D sign then consider making it from infinitely recyclable metal and not single-use plastic.



  • Neutral in Denmark offering custom printing of certified 100% organic fairtrade toxin-free t-shirts which have made with renewable energy and are carbon neutral.



  • If you do deliveries get yourself or your staff driving more sustainably with the device Lightfoot. It plugs into the vehicle’s on-board computer and monitors driving performance. This is then displayed on the dashboard with a series of little lights. They’re based in the UK.


Positive Actions

  • Consider joining One percent for the planet, they work with companies that want to donate 1% of their gross sales to environmental charities. They are based in the US but work with companies all over the world.
  • Donate or assist local environmental charities.
  • Offer meeting spaces for community / environmental groups.
  • Invite people in to talk about sustainable living or climate change.
  • If you’re based in England consider joining the Sustainable Restaurant Association, or if in Ireland consider setting up one here.


Till next week







Newsletter – May Week 5

Sustainable Living News

We all had a wobble in the house this week. The lockdown cracks developed into full-on fissures. We’d had enough of keeping ourselves occupied with mealtimes and online entertainment. We wanted out. We’ve been going for regular family walks but seeing the same landmarks day in day out had become tiresome. We’re also sick of being parents 24/7. That may sounds strange. Of course we’re always parents but normally it takes a back seat when you’re in work, college, out with friends, at yoga etc, etc. At home in lockdown, parenting is inescapable and it’s exhausting. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t do it right!

Enough of the moaning. On a positive note I am getting to update the blog, a long overdue task, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. The only thing I love more than information is sharing it! And I’m starting to spot more sustainable products in mainstream stores. Yippee! Here’s some other positive stories to get you all aglow this weekend.


Nothing mentioned in this post has been sponsored. It’s all just my own personal opinion. If you like your bloggers to remain independent then please share this post or support me with a small monthly donation via Patreon or with a once off donation via Paypal.


Amazing residents in Tuam. Well done for standing up to stupid Galway County Council over verge cutting during National Biodiversity Week

Great news! Dublin’s forests are to be converted from commercial to recreational native broad-leaved forests!!!!!!!!!

A stylish example of reuse with these converted shipping containers

L’Oréal unveils €100m biodiversity and circular economy plan

Profits from the sale of this recycled toilet roll are going to the NHS 

What’s wrong with the furniture sector? A lot! Did you know that one IKEA billy case is made every 3 seconds.

Frances’ office plant hospital 

A very comprehensive Instagram based guide to creating a veg garden

A great example of modern (visible) mending

Is an ethical farm run by a vegetarian the future of chicken farming?

Ethical alternatives to Amazon

A start-up is converting food waste into sustainable palm oil 

The first dairy ice-cream, made with no cows!

B&Q to stop selling the weedkiller Roundup!

22 time-saving gardening tips 

An interesting review of Ireland’s electricity usage since lockdown


Enjoy a safe and wonderful bank holiday weekend


Reusables and Covid-19

Reusables and Covid-19

I’ve been able to access some fantastic webinars as a result of the global lockdown. A small win in the grand scheme of things but a win all the same. Most talked about the impact of the pandemic on the circular economy, the sustainable living / zero waste movement, campaigns against the climate crisis and reusables. This blog is all about individual action so I’m going to take a micro view and focus on reusables. It’s not that I don’t believe in collective action or lobbying for system change, I do, it’s just not the focus of this blog.


Nothing mentioned in this post has been sponsored. It’s all just my own personal opinion. If you like your bloggers to remain independent then please share this post or support me with a small monthly donation via Patreon or with a once off donation via Paypal.


Reusable Masks
I’ve only recently started to wear a reusable fabric mask that I bought back in March. I think I just felt really weird putting it on when so many weren’t wearing it.

I know there’s some controversy over wearing non-medical masks in Ireland. It’s true that they don’t offer the same protection as the medical ones and it could lead people to be less cautious about proven protection methods like social distancing and handwashing. Also there are fears that that if not handled correctly reusable masks could be a source of contamination.  My view is this;

– we should leave the medical-grade masks to those that really need them
– we should consider masks like safety belts. They don’t give you a licence to drive like a maniac in an old banger.
– we should consider a worn mask as contaminated until we have time to sanitise it. This means removing carefully and placing it somewhere safe until it can be cleaned effectively.

Having had a chance to research proven sanitising methods for reusable masks. I’ve drawn a blank. I can find no specific study that confirms the outcome of washing, freezing, ironing or isolating reusable fabric masks. I did find a recent study that determined that the virus couldn’t be detected on cloth after two days, but it was found on a surgical mask up to 7 days. This might be because surgical masks tend to be plastic, which earlier research has shown to harbour the virus longer than other materials. So really if you want to be safe the only reliable method for reusable masks is to wash them in detergent or soap after wearing. It’s not essential that the water is above a particular temperature because it is the soap or detergent that is breaking down the cell walls of the virus not the water temperature.

There are plenty of organisations selling reusable masks. I bought mine from a local not-for-profit maker. I’m sure there’s one in your area. Or if you’re handy enough with your sewing machine there are plenty of tutorials online. Here’s a few links to take a look at;


With regard to protection it seems that masks are better at protecting someone else from you than protecting you from them, but if most people worn one, more people would be protected. Obviously the better the fit, the more protection that’s offered but it can be hard to try on masks so even a badly fitting one will offer some protection. I didn’t bother with insert-able liners or anything like that. If you feel more comfortable having more than one layer or using woven liners then go right ahead, but just remember even with an all-bells-and-whistles mask you still need to stay 2 metres away from people outside your household and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, with soap, when you touch anything outside of your house.

Sanitiser Bottles
We’ve accumulated quite a few plastic bottles of this stuff in our house. I didn’t mind too much in the beginning when I thought all this malarkey was temporary but now it’s beginning to bother me. If you want to find a less damaging way to sanitise your hands when you can’t wash them I know Reuzi in Dublin 18 and Pax Wholefoods in Mayo are selling 100ml refills and Edamame are selling reusable silicon bottles for sanitiser.

Reusable Containers and Package-free
Despite what the plastics industry might tell you plastic is not sterile and with a recent study finding that the virus can live on plastic and steel packaging for up to 72 hours it seems you’d be far safer refilling your own containers than buying packaged goods.

A lot of shops have stopped accepting customers’ own containers or offering package-free goods. I’m hoping this is temporary and given the stress that shop owners are under I’m leaving them alone for now. As things ease I will be asking my local shops if they’ll start accepting my containers again. If they aren’t comfortable doing so, that’s fine, I’ll just find a business that is. Thankfully my local zero waste store is still accepting my own containers and the veg I get delivered or pick up in my local veg shop is largely package free.

Reusable Takeaway Cups
In the same way that shops have stopped accepting customers’ own containers some cafes have stopped accepting customers’ own takeaway cups, due to fear over cross contamination. But as this little video by zero waste coffee brand Cloud Picker shows there’s a simple way to avoid the problem.

Even if a cafe isn’t in a position to accept a customers’ own takeaway cup they could still implement a reusable cup scheme like those on offer by Ricup, or 2gocup. By simply giving a new cup with every coffee and depositing returned ones in bins for cleaning a cafe can avoid disposable and cross contamination.

And now for some positive eco news;

Vogue are now talking about the importance of regenerative agriculture!

This company allows Australians to sell their solar generated energy

Can your school go plastic free? 

An uber efficient solar farm in the UK

The future isn’t not looking bright for plastic manufacturing

Tutorial on how to make a beautiful stamped clay bowl

Tips for freezing food in glass

Recipe for vegan banana ‘ice-cream’

Some tips on reducing our environmental impact and some people walking the walk 

Furniture that can be converted to a coffin at the end of your life

How to make a pineapple and lime cordial

Greenhouse Gas emissions down 8% on last year, partly because of pandemic

Plans for a national forest running the length of Wales

Snorkelers helping to plant sea meadows 

Trees for Life volunteers isolate together to save tree saplings and keep work going

How whales can help in the fight against the climate crisis

Stay safe, stay well


Newsletter – May Week 3

Sustainable Living News

Those who follow me on Instagram or Facebook will recognise this photo. It’s creeping phlox called Candy Stripe that I bought on a birthday outing a few years ago. Every year it flowers at the same time of year reminding me of that lovely day out. Some of my favourite plants in my garden have been given to me by friends and relatives, and every time they bloom I’m reminded of the giver. I love the way plants have the capacity to bring back memories like that.

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Sustainable Business; Reusable Containers

customers own containers

I had intended to post a series of sustainable business posts just as the Coronavirus hit, but felt it would be insensitive when so businesses are struggling to hold on. Now that we have a roadmap for emerging out of lockdown I’ve taken the view that it’s okay to start talking about the future in more concrete terms. I do so knowing that some business owners are coming to the painful realisation that they won’t be reopening their doors. My heart breaks for them. I’ve been there.

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