A Guide To Building Your Green Neighborhood Café

When opening a neighborhood café, you want to be making a positive effect on the local community. Building your café to be green from the ground up has benefits for your business, your customers, your community, and the world. Consider some of the following initiatives to make your café as green as it can be.

Eco-Friendly Products:

Many cafés use a lot of single-use plastics and cups which end up in landfills. You can reduce your café’s reliance on these items with a few simple steps. The easiest way to reduce waste is to not create it at all. Encourage customers to bring reusable coffee cups and containers for their food by offering a small discount.

For the single-use items, you do use, source those made from recycled and recyclable materials. This could include paper straws, biodegradable cups, and napkins made from recycled paper pulp. You can also incorporate recycled materials into the construction of your café itself. From the décor and furniture to the counter and foundations, there are many ways to use recycled materials in your café. Smaller cafés could even consider setting up shop in recycled shipping containers.

Buy Local!

When it comes to sourcing the food for your café, buy local whenever you can. This has a range of benefits. In terms of the environmental impact, local produce and ingredients are significantly greener. Food produced at a farm within a couple of hours’ drive from your city has to travel very little distance to get to your café. The emissions from transport, refrigeration, and packaging are a fraction of what they would be for food sourced from further away. It’s also a no-brainer for improving the quality of your food – fresh produce tastes better!

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Image source: Unsplash

What about Food Waste?

Sourcing local ingredients provides a green solution for the start of the food production cycle. But what about at the other end? Food waste is a major issue in the hospitality industry. Scraps and unsold food are an unavoidable by-product of operating a commercial café.

However, many cafés throw these in the bin for no good reason. With a bit of planning and coordination, your food waste can be given a new lease on life and contribute positively to the local community. Try composting coffee grounds and food scraps to produce fertiliser which can be sold cheaply or gifted to a local community garden.

Going further, try to reduce the amount of leftover food you have each day. Making more food than you know you are likely to sell is not sustainable or environmentally responsible. Aiming to achieve an equal ratio of food produced to food sold is an environmental as well as a financial obligation. When you do have leftover food, look for local charities or social enterprises who accept leftovers. These groups then give them to hungry people in need or repurpose them for other uses.

Go Digital

For the ordering operations of your café, use digital technologies to reduce waste as well. Printing order tickets for coffee and food produces paper waste which quickly adds up over weeks and months. You can avoid this by using a point-of-service app which coordinates orders between tablets at the till, the coffee machine, and in the kitchen. Be sure to pick a reliable high-speed broadband provider. Not only does this reduce waste, but it’s more efficient and traceable as well.

More consumers are expecting their local cafés to adopt green, sustainable practices. The reason is simple – it’s the right thing to do for the environment. Consider carefully what your café could be doing to be part of the solution to waste in your local community.


Cloe is a freelance writer from Dunedin, New Zealand who is passionate about responsible, sustainable living. She loves supporting local businesses that promote initiatives for protecting the environment.

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