State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Green Certified Restaurants

By: Lily Shen

Anfora is a green certifed restaurant in New York City.
According to the 2012 Zagat dining survey, New Yorkers eat out an average of three times a week. Since people in the city eat out so often, they may be able to reduce their carbon footprint by supporting more green certified restaurants. Amelia Ekus, director of community development at Epicurean Management, knows what it takes for a business to become a green certified restaurant. Epicurean Management operates four green certified restaurants in New York City: dell’anima, L’Artusi, Anfora, and L’Apicio.The company will be opening L’Apicio, a restaurant featuring seasonal Italian cuisine, in fall 2012. According to its mission statement, Epicurean Management “provides entrepreneurs and companies with both the guidance and the tools to achieve success while remaining accountable to our environment and positively impacting our communities.” Ms. Ekus said she is in charge of getting each restaurant operated by Epicurean Management their green certification with the Green Restaurant Association. The restaurants have completed over 180 steps to reduce waste and chemical use and increase energy efficiency, which resulted in their designation as 3 Star Certified Green Restaurants. According to Ms. Ekus, the restaurants attained their green certifications through a wide variety of sustainability practices including water usage, energy usage, recycling, composting, chemical and pollution reduction, and food sourcing. A breakdown of each restaurant’s sustainability practices can be found on Epicurean Management’s website. The restaurants also participate in ReCork America, a program that recycles their used corks into footwear and helps to educate people about the role cork forests play in climate change.

According to the United Nations Statistical Yearbook, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year. Food waste produces greenhouse gases as it decays in the landfill. Ms. Ekus said, ”The restaurant industry is one of the most wasteful industries. Americans throw out 40 percent of their food…[Epicurean Management] is setting a standard for how people go out and eat.” One of the sustainability practices she is most proud of is that the restaurants do not purchase plastic bottled water. The restaurants use a filtered water system and have reusable bottles that can be rewashed. The restaurants also use recycled materials for its menu paper, toilet paper, and other disposables. The restrooms in the restaurants have energy-efficient, accelerator hand dryers rather than disposable paper towels. In addition, Ms. Ekus noted that dell’anima is a restaurant that uses the whole animal for cooking to reduce waste and composts its food scraps.

Joe Campanale is the co-owner of Anfora, dell’anima, L’Artusi, and L’Apicio. Last year, Mr. Campanale was listed in Forbes 30 under 30 as a promising star under the age of 30 in the food and wine industry. Anfora, a charming wine bar in the West Village, is furnished with cozy, leather banquettes and tables made of reclaimed wood. The restaurant has a predominantly sustainable, biodynamic, organic wine list organized by producer. Beer, cocktails, and spirits are also available. Anfora’s small plate menu includes bar snacks, salads, sandwiches, charcuterie, and cheeses. The crostini (small slices of toasted bread) is an ideal appetizer to accompany the wine and comes with delicious toppings such as octopus salad, roasted red pepper, and spicy chirozo. All of Mr. Campanale’s restaurants have received positive reviews on Yelp.

You can find a list of additional green certified restaurants at the Green Restaurant Association website. When we vote with our forks to support more green certified restaurants, perhaps other restaurants will follow their example in implementing effective sustainability practices. Bon appétit!

Lily Shen is a student in CERC’s Certificate Program in Conservation and Environmental Sustainability. Course offerings include Environmental Entrepreneurship and Approaches to Conservation I : Strategy and Management.

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