“Green” cafes that operate with the wellbeing of the environment in mind are becoming increasingly popular. Here are some thoughts on the steps to building your own green neighbourhood café.
Finding the right place for your green café is vital. Look for an area with residents who already appreciate and support environmentally-friendly businesses. Many people enjoy an open-air, natural dining experience, so try and find a place that at least has a patio where tables can be placed. This will be even better if it is visible to passers-by, as a peaceful, sheltered area in the midst of healthy green plants will surely entice people to come and have a look. Finally, ensure that there is sufficient room for customer parking!
Invest in the best ecologically-friendly technology that you can afford, such as low-energy consumption refrigerators. Your top priorities should include saving water with water-efficient fixtures and minimising the use of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels.
Installing solar power is a great option, saving you lots of money long-term in operating costs. Exterior solar LED lighting provides better visibility and won’t fail during a power outage, making it ideal for illuminating your parking lot and ensuring your café signage is always visible. Make use of as much natural light as possible, and supplement it with LED lights indoors.
Cleaning & Recycling
Use non-toxic cleaning materials and washable tablecloths and napkins. Choose takeout boxes, cups, and cutlery made from recycled materials to reduce the amount of rubbish that your café needs to throw away. When you execute a recycling programme, encourage both staff and customers to use it to ensure that as much reusable material as possible is recycled.
Create a unique atmosphere in your café by decorating with recycled furniture and decorations. The current trend for industrial-style installations lends itself perfectly to making use of discarded fixtures. With a little imagination and creativity, you can create an appealing and interesting decoration with minimal expense.
If possible, choose a location with space where you can grow your own produce and where there is room to install structures to protect your plants during the winter. If a normal vegetable garden is not an option, investigate installing vertical gardens from which you can harvest a surprising amount of produce.
Supplement your own produce with locally sourced seasonal products and bring them without packaging. Avoid food waste by serving smaller portions and giving away any excess food which is about to pass its prime. Work with your local soup kitchen to ensure that no food is wasted.
About the Author: Johanna Cider is a freelance writer from New Zealand whose passion for sustainable living has inspired her to be more involved in green projects and more dedicated to live a zero-waste lifestyle. See more of her work here.
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