Recent news (and an e-mail from my boss) recently told me the story of this zero-waste supermarket.  Original Unverpackt in Germany has done away with all disposable packaging, and instead dispenses all of its 350+ products into refillable containers. This includes fruits, vegetables, dry grains and pourable liquids like yogurt, lotion and shampoo.

This of course opens the discussion of restaurants who achieve comperable feats of sustainability. While some make strides like changing lightbulbs or adding a composting bin (both still great), others do a big fat cannonball into the pool of environmental responsibility. We can only hope they yelled “Bansai!”  like Mr. Mayagi in Karate Kid, Part 1—but we can at least see it in action in these operations right here:

Zero Waste: Sandwich Me In, Chicago
In well over two years of business, this Chicago restaurant has sent nothing—NOTHING—to the landfill. The feat is the result of a combination of strategies, including recycling, composting, local sourcing and reuse—plus a very diligent food and supply procurement process that ensures waste never even makes it into the restaurant. Read more here >

100% Solar: Bistro Henry Manchester, Vermont
This fine-dining favorite installed enough solar panels to generate 87,000 kwh each year—enough energy necessary for lighting, refrigeration and air-conditioning with some even left over for heating. It’s part of a greater green initiative at the operation that incudes recycling, composting and conservation. Read more here >

ULTRA Green: Uncommon Ground, Chicago
Right at home in Chicago with NRA Show, Uncommon Ground earned the title of World’s Greenest Restaurant® in 2011-12 then reclaimed the honor in 2013. It’s a top-to-bottom effort—literally—beginning on the roof with the nation’s first certified organic rooftop farm and continuing all the way down though lighting choices, recycling, composting and beyond. Read more here >

And while we’re on the subject... 
Here's a list from The Daily Meal of the top 20 greenest restaurants in the U.S for 2014:

1) The Grey Plume, Omaha, Nebraska

2) Uncommon Ground, Chicago, Illinois

3) Big Delicious Planet, Chicago, Illinois

4) Kona Pub & Brewery, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

5) Ruggles Green, Houston, Texas

6) Manito Tap House, Spokane, Washington

7) French Broad Chocolates, Asheville, North Carolina

8) GustOrganics, New York, New York

9) Pizzeria Rustica, Colorado Springs, Colorado

10) The Green Sage, Asheville, North Carolina

11) Rouge Tomate, New York, New York

12) Frontera Grill & Topolobampo, Chicago, Illinois
 
13) Candle 79, New York, New York
 
14) Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles, California
 
15) Del Posto, New York, New York
 
16) Dell‘Anima, New York, New York
 
17) Michael Jordan's Chicago Steakhouse, Chicago, Illinois
 
18) Sugar & Olives, Norwalk, Connecticut
 
19) Luella's Bar-B-Que, Asheville, North Carolina
 

20) Slapfish, Huntington Beach, California

 

 

100% Green Power
Finally, without speaking to how eco-centric these operations are, here’s a handy list of restaurants and cafes—courtesy of EPA.gov—who have committed to 100% green power.

Black Restaurant Group

2,000,000

100%

innov8energy°

Wind

MD

Austin Grill

1,844,080

100%

Washington Gas Energy Services°

Wind

VA

Larkburger

1,555,145

100%

Renewable Choice Energy°

Wind

CO

Eatwell DC

1,368,000

100%

Washington Gas Energy Services°

Wind

DC

Ridgewells, Inc.

1,349,193

100%

Washington Gas Energy Services°

Wind

MD

14 & V Inc. T/A Busboys and Poets

604,692

100%

innov8energy°

Wind

DC

Eatonville Restaurant

578,213

100%

innov8energy°

Wind

DC

Almond

520,340

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

The Coupe

443,006

100%

innov8energy°

Wind

DC

Ben's Next Door

398,460

100%

innov8energy°

Wind

DC

Open City

388,358

100%

innov8energy°

Wind

DC

Rocket Bar

364,045

100%

Constellation°

Wind

DC

The Bean

328,616

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

The Diner

290,081

100%

innov8energy°

Wind

DC

Ben's Chili Bowl

258,230

100%

innov8energy°

Wind

DC

James Mackey's Public House

251,480

100%

Constellation°

Wind

DC

GustOrganics

243,420

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Meridian Pint

231,614

100%

Direct Energy°

Wind

DC

Tryst

223,677

100%

innov8energy°

Wind

DC

Geppetto Catering

209,170

100%

Washington Gas Energy Services°

Wind

MD

Olio e Piu Trattoria & Enoteca

185,742

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Kobeyaki Restaurant

182,790

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Tipsy Parson

180,705

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Madam's Organ

176,003

100%

Direct Energy°

Wind

DC

Lodge

152,946

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Bruce Gomez

149,220

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

One and One

146,572

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Tompkins Square Bagels

144,634

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Adega Wine Cellars & Cafe

137,810

100%

Washington Gas Energy Services°

Various

MD

L&P Oriental dba Golden Palace Restaurant

115,000

100%

Renewable Choice Energy°

Wind

NH

Ample Hills Creamery

111,160

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Pizzati Ltd.

108,575

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

The Cutting Room

106,550

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Cafe Argentino

104,403

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Taco Chulo

103,019

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Palo Santo

102,137

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Sol y Sombra

101,146

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Iron Horse Tap Room

100,000

100%

Constellation°

Wind

DC

Pleasant Pops

95,579

100%

Direct Energy°

Wind

DC

Northern Spy Food Co.

93,288

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Gradisca

89,595

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

DC9

89,431

100%

Direct Energy°

Wind

DC

Galactic Pizza

86,870

100%

Xcel Energy°

Wind

MN

Dudley's

85,702

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

White Rock Coffee

84,200

100%

Green Mountain Energy°

Wind

TX

O'Brien's Sports Bar

82,000

100%

Renewable Choice Energy°

Wind

NH

Stonehome Wine Bar

81,126

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Mizu Japanese & Thai Cuisine

78,021/td>

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Sugar Sweet Sunshine

76,962

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Moe's Deli

73,962

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Brown Cafe

73,836

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Amsterdam Falafel Shop

73,732

100%

Direct Energy°

Wind

DC

1905 Bistro & Bar

70,000

100%

innov8energy°

Wind

DC

Zum Schneider

68,227

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Tomatillo

66,202

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Pizzaroma, LLC

66,000

100%

Renewable Choice Energy°

Wind

NH

TIPOTA LLC dba Rawlicious Soho

65,567

100%

Horizon Wind Energy

Wind

NY

The Bagel Mill

64,000

100%

Renewable Choice Energy°

Wind

NH

Dieci

57,930

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Full Circle Bar

56,718

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Le Paddock

56,705

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Breukelen Coffee House

56,163

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Bluebird Coffee Shop

55,890

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Whynot Coffee

52,790

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Sweet Mama's LLC dba Naidre's Cafe

50,578

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Lallisse

50,220

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

The Drink

49,547

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

The Saint Austere

48,013

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Bedford Hill Coffee Bar

47,651

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Saramina, Inc. dba The Muffins Cafe

47,613

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Milk Bar

47,100

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Second Chance Saloon

42,588

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Krystal's Bakery Shop

41,172

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Boulevard Tavern

40,813

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Brouwerij Lane

29,220

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Flying Fish Coffee and Tea

28,194

100%

Direct Energy°

Wind

DC

Simply Thyme Catering

27,000

100%

Clark Public Utilities°

Biomass, Solar, Wind

WA

Veggie's Natural Juice Bar

26,463

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

B Side Bar

25,398

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Sigmund Pretzel Shop

23,112

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Jolo's Kitchen

21,978

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NY

Biba's Tavola Calda Pizzeria

18,030

100%

Green Mountain Energy

Wind

NJ

 

Want to learn more about restaurant sustainability?
The National Restaurant Association's Conserve Program website is full of tips, news and resources to help you save money while leaving a lighter environmental footprint. Visit here.