Sustainable Business; Cafes, Restaurants and Bars

Sustainable Ethical Restaurants, Cafe and Bars

This week’s blog post is the another in my series on sustainable business; this time looking at cafes, restaurants and bars. With food businesses starting to open up again after the pandemic it can be scary times. Being a sustainable ethical retailer may be a good way to differentiate you from your competitors and give you an edge going forward. Read on for some ideas on how to achieve this.


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. There’s also a few trailblazers in Ireland already leading the way on this, including Conor Spacey who you can follow on Instagram or Facebook, etc for regular tips and ideas.


  • 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.
  • Use an eco print company like The Factory in Co Offaly. They print on recycled or sustainbly sourced paper using plant-based inks and toners on low energy printing and finishing machines/ Their packaging is 100% plastic-free.


  • 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







Published by livinglightlyinireland

I am a reformed interior architect that now campaign for and write about sustainable living in Ireland.

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