As the owner of an eco-friendly salad restaurant with two Dallas, Texas, locations, Chris Dahlander has a vested interest in saving water. "I see the water bills when they come," he notes.
Working closely with his employee team, Dahlander has implemented a water-saving program that has dramatically reduced his monthly water bills. "Snappy Salads uses about half the amount of water that a similar size restaurant uses," Dahlander says.
The restaurant uses low-flow toilets and infra-red faucets in the restrooms and a large triple basin sink for washing dishes."Because we are a salad restaurant, we don't have that much cooking equipment to wash. So instead of a dishwashing machine that uses lots of water, we use our three-compartment sink," he says. Employees place unused ice in the sink at the end of the day so it melts on its own overnight.
Employee training is a key part of the process, says Dahlander. "Teach your employees good water habits. "Employees need to be aware and cognizant of what they are doing when it comes to using water. Conserving water must be a priority, just like conserving paper and recyling."
Snappy Salads also quickly fixes dripping faucets or leaky toilets. The restaurant has a plumber on call who can make repairs within three hours so leaky plumbing does not waste large amounts of water or add to the water bill.
Dahlander says it's easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to conservation. He advises operators to pick one area to focus on -- like water savings -- and set a target, such as cutting back by 5 percent. "Start with one project. Knock that out. Then do another one. Once you get into it, conservation becomes part of your operation."
Over time, Snappy Salads has build conservation into other aspects of its operations. The restaurant uses tables made from reclaimed wood, walls painted with milk paint, low-wattage lighting and eco-friendly cleaning supplies. Menus are printed on recycled paper, containers are made from corn, and utensils are made from potato starch. Employees wear shirts made from organic cotton, hemp or corn.
Snappy Salads also recycles, in a big way. The Greater Dallas-Fort Worth Recycling Alliance awarded Snappy Salads the 2007 Greater DFW Recycling Leadership Award for Sustainable Business.
"We can always get better," Dahlander says. "When we build another Snappy Salads, we'll go with on-demand hot water heaters and FDA-approved recycled vinyl flooring, and look for products that both make sense financially and minimize the impact that we are making on the environment."