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Be a net giver; practice sustainability

May 7, 2013

 

By George McKerrow

There are some who say our industry isn’t sustainable enough, but the truth is many companies are committed to being more efficient, preserving the environment, and saving money.

I’m already so impressed with what our industry has done, but am confident there is even more to come.

When we started Ted’s Montana Grill 12 years ago, we were determined to be sustainable and create a great environment for our 2,700 employees. That was largely responsible for creating a customer base proud to come in and spend money with us.

Since then, we’ve seen sustainability move up from an unknown entity to become one of the Top 5 reasons why people choose the restaurants they dine in. They are looking for good stewards involved in their communities who are willing to do what is good for the earth.

In 2002, when we started Ted’s, I found out our industry created five times as much garbage than other industries did, wasted five times as much energy, used five times as much water, and was a major pollutant and problem child in our communities. As good as we’ve been — and I’ve been in the restaurant business for more than 45 years and witnessed many of the great things we’ve done — when it comes to the environment, we’ve been net users or neutral. But now we have an opportunity to think differently about how we can recycle and reuse the materials in our restaurants.

We set out to create restaurants where everything could be recycled. There would be no plastic, no Styrofoam, nothing not recyclable. Where we could, we would be energy efficient. We built the restaurants with materials purchased within 300 miles of where we were building. We also opted to compost where possible. And those are just a few of the things we did and still do.

The fact is our industry has come a long way regarding sustainability. We know it’s good for business and the planet, but for those who are still deciding whether or not to be greener, I say it’s time to be net givers. We already create hospitality, make people happy and offer gastronomic pleasure every day. Now we have to help create cleaner water, air and a happier earth. At the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do. If everyone starts with just one thing, we can all make a difference.

 

George McKerrow Jr. is co-founder and CEO of Ted’s Montana Grill restaurants. An environmentalist and entrepreneur, he is a big supporter of the National Restaurant Association’s Conserve sustainability program and is committed to helping others be greener and protect our natural resources.

Want to learn more? View George McKerrow's Conserve Conversations here.

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