Photo by Anna Zajac
Big Delicious Planet was the first caterer in the country to become a 4 Star Certified Green Restaurant.
Several years ago, we noticed many caterers and restaurants claiming to be "green," but what does that mean? How does a food service company actually prove they are a "green" company? There's so much waste in the food service industry: cardboard, disposables, food, chemicals, energy, etc. A few of our clients were beginning to ask about our "green mission" and having us fill out surveys, so we did some research and decided to get third party certification through The Green Restaurant Association in order to evaluate our environmental sustainability and for transparency.
In 2010 we had moved our operation into a geothermal building, so we were already one step ahead. We also had a recycling program in place, and were purchasing mostly eco-friendly disposables, but we needed to look deeper into what we were buying and doing. This didn't happen easily, and it took time to implement positive environmental practices and make changes in our operation. We began composting all our food scraps, found a biodiesel service, and changed the chemicals we were using. Besides making a great product and providing superb service, our goal as a foodservice company is to reduce waste through an aggressive composting and recycling program, by turning vacant lots into urban gardens, and by purchasing sustainable products.
When the GRA notified us that we had received a 4 Star rating, the highest rating, we were thrilled! We're now 1 of 29 restaurants (the category includes caterers) in the country who have truly gone beyond what a normal food service company would do. We know we aren't perfect, and we need to continue to stay on track, so we continue to train our staff to make our company greener.
Some of BDP's sustainable practices:
- We have our own organic urban farm where we grow 41 varieties of vegetables. In 2016 we harvested close to 3,000 pounds of produce from our farm, with our highest crop yield being tomatoes.
- We grow our own microgreens and herbs indoors.
- We work with many local farmers to purchase sustainable products.
- We have two beehives in our urban farm.
- We compost all food scraps and biodegradable paper goods from our kitchen and Canteen.
- We donate all our used vegetable oil to a biodiesel service, which turns it into fuel for vehicles and glycerin for soap.
- We have a recycling system in place.
- Our building is geothermal.
- A local shelter picks up our excess food twice a week.
- Our cleaning chemicals meet the highest green standards.
- We've improved our water efficiency by making changes to our faucets.
- We only use compostable disposable dinnerware (unless requested otherwise).
- We support farm-raised meat and ocean-friendly seafood.
- We have reduced the amount of paper we use by installing hand dryers in the restrooms.