7 Signs of a Green Restaurant (Plus 5 Resources to Find Them!)


Eco, Noted

You’ve been cooking at home more because it’s healthier, more economical and allows you to support your local food systems. You’ve made your kitchen habits as waste-free as possible. But sometimes you want to go out. What makes a restaurant green and how do you find one?

There are currently no national standards for green restaurants – leaving room for plenty of greenwashing. There are certifiers around the country and websites that list green restaurants, but if you’re feeling lost, save this guide for handy reference!

Restaurants can take a variety of steps to green their operations. Here are some to look for when choosing a green restaurant:

1. Do they compost?

2. Do they use non-toxic cleaning supplies?

3. Do they source their food from local farms and producers?

4. Have they installed energy saving lightbulbs and appliances?

Do they offer take out containers and if so, are they compostable?

6. Do they donate cooking oil to convert bio-fuel?

7. Do they sell bottled water?

5 great sites for further scouting:

Dine Green is a certifier that works nationwide and helps restaurants take their first steps: You can search their lists for restaurants in your area.

Thimmakka is a San Francisco Bay Area non-profit that helps restaurants, other businesses, and city governments to interpret and navigate laws and standards.

Midwestern greenies should check out Green Restaurants, which lists eco-friendly restaurants in the Chicago area.

Sustain Lane lets you search for restaurants and other businesses nationwide or locally, and also includes reviews.

Ideal Bite gives you tips to effectively encourage your less-than-eco favorites to green up.

Image: Roby Ferrari

Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa Barrington is a San Francisco based writer and communications consultant specializing in environmental, social, and political issues in the food system.