How To Get Started With Sustainability
As I stated in my first blog for this magazine, foodservice operators cannot implement and maintain a sustainability program unless they have a sustainable work force. “Things” only get done through people and those foodservice operators who are constantly experiencing a “revolving door” of employees need to find ways to fix that issue first. This is the first and most important rule of implementing a sustainability program.
So, how can restaurateurs and foodservice operators develop a sustainable work force? Like everything else, sustainability must start at the top of the organization. If operators or owners don’t put all of their heart and soul into a sustainability program, how can they expect their employees to do the same thing? Employees are very perceptive -- if they see that their “leader” is not walking the talk with respect to sustainability then how can the manager expect his or her employees to fully embrace it? The answer is -- you can't.
One of the first places to start is to develop a sustainability statement. Similar in nature to a mission or vision statement, a sustainability statement should clearly set forth the goals and aspirations of a foodservice. Of course, the big challenge is to live up to this statement and to actualize it in everyday actions and deeds.
There is an old saying in management that, “you cannot manage what you can't measure.” And so it is with any sustainability efforts. If you want to have a successful sustainability program you must put in place a series of metrics -- or measures -- that allow managers and staff to see what is expected of them as individuals, what the organization is trying to achieve from a sustainability perspective and which results are actually being obtained versus goals and projections.
One of the hallmarks of several successful sustainability programs I have studied was a clearly defined set of metrics that the foodservice operation was trying to achieve. Goals like: equipment-focused energy reductions; cuts in waste by specific categories, including food, water, paper and cardboard; increasing the amount and types of products that are recycled. The point is, operators need to have specific goals to pursue. Without such objectives, sustainability initiatives are like a ship without a rudder and a captain -- drifting and not sure exactly where they’ll end up. Of course, specific goals can only be established if foodservices determine a baseline for each individual category of activity they intend to improve via a sustainability program. I’ll have more to offer on this topic in an upcoming blog entry.