With the current drought in California, we are all reminded about the importance of water conservation. Clean drinking water is key to sustainable life and we do not have an endless supply.
Although our planet is covered in water, most of those sources contain salt water and the process to make it drinkable is very expensive. We also need to preserve those ecosystems, and conserving water will be a great help. Conserving water in households can help, but only conserving water in commercial venues will have an extreme impact.
Restaurants can use up to 5,800 gallons of water a day. On average, according to the EPA, food service, along with hospitality, establishments take up 15 percent of the total water use in U.S. commercial and institutional facilities. They alone have a huge impact on the water use in the entire country. The most common ways restaurants wastewater is in the kitchen, either in the machinery, processes, or dishwashing. The amount of water wasted can be reduced easily, if all restaurants took some initiative.
In addition to helping the environment, limiting the use of excess water will also save you money. So, not only will the world thank you, but your wallet will as well. All businesses can help conserve water – whether a restaurant, caterer, food truck connoisseur, barista, or baker. Follow these steps when striving to go green:
- Avoid using a running tap: Using running tap excessively wastes water, especially when washing dishes. If you do not have an electronic dishwasher, then fill one sink halfway with rinsing water, and wash dishes in the other sink. If you’re working with one sink, then put the soapy dishes on a rack and rinse them altogether. Try not to thaw frozen goods under running water. Instead, plan ahead and thaw them overnight in a refrigerator. Also, clean veggies and fruits in a bowl instead of under running tap. Never leave water unattended and running; you are wasting both the water and your money.
- Upgrade your equipment: When possible, use ENERGY STAR® qualified machinery. These products are proven to not only conserve energy and water, but also money. Also incorporating low-flow pre-rinse spray valves can save up to $1,000 each year – and they get the job done. If you find that your restaurant, cafe, bar, or catering business is using too much water, then one of the first things to look at is your equipment.
- Repair leaks as soon as possible: Leaks and leaky machinery are often times overlooked in busy commercial settings. However, you can’t ignore the big dollars they cost. If a leak isn’t fixed, then it can cost up to $700 a year and waste up to 100 gallons a day. Don’t throw your money away, especially when you can easily avoid it. Pay attention to your faucets and other equipment. Once you notice a leak, don’t put it on the back burner – get it fixed right away.
- Get rid of steamers with boilers: It’s no secret that boiling is less water-efficient than steaming. So why would we use steamers with boilers? Boilerless steamers are more-often-than-not qualified by ENERGY STAR®, and help reduce water usage and costs. Boilerless steamers do not use a water line and effectively use less water than other machines.
- Use your dishwasher effectively: Dishwashers are the most convenient piece of equipment in kitchens today. They can also be one of the most eco-friendly. On average a dishwasher uses about 50% less water than manual washing dishes. However, this is only true if you are strict about when you run it. Be sure to fill dishwashers up fully before you wash the dishes. A commercial dishwasher use the same water and power whether it’s empty or slam-full. If you run it when it is full, then you clean more dishes using the same amount of water, and getting more for your dollar.
- Recycle used water when possible: Water is considered a renewable source because it can be reused in many different ways. However, you don’t have to depend on the system to recycle water; you can simply find ways to do so in your business. You can use some leftover water, such as from boiling pasta or rice, for small plants. Your staff can use other recycled water for cleaning your venue. You can also recycle water into your garbage disposal, if it’s vital to use one. A garbage disposal isn’t the greenest choice to handle food waste. Instead, look into a worm farm or a composter.
- Turn off water-using machines when not in use: Machines can still use water even when we’re not utilizing them. Many overlook this, and keep such machines running throughout nights. This wastes gallons of water a many dollars from your pocket. To be more economical and environmental, make sure to shut this equipment off overnight.
- Install foot pedals for faucets: This is not only a way to save water, but it’s also an innovative way to make washing easier. Foot pedals make turning water off and on automatic, so no water wastes down the drain. This change may seem small, but that little wastewater adds up to be an extra expense you shouldn’t have to pay.
- Reduce water usage in other areas: There are many ways around your establishment in which you can conserve water. First, you can start by not serving water to guests unless they specifically ask for it. Many diners do not touch their water glasses if they order another beverage. Another way is to prioritize using dry cleaning techniques, such as a sweeping. Try limiting mopping or other wet techniques to only once a week. You can also dilute dish detergent and use very little. You will either waste excessive soap or need more water to rinse it off your dishes. Lastly, another big way to conserve water is to limit water use in your landscaping. Many restaurants try to keep their lawns in top shape, but some of the water use in landscaping is not needed.
Educate yourself and staff: Training staff and keeping up-to-date with the latest strategies in water conservation is a huge step. Making sure you and your staff are all on the same page will improve your business’ water conservation. You can also keep track of your water usage and areas you can improve by asking your utility service for a report.