Zero-waste restaurants champion sustainability

Across the food and beverage industry, companies are innovating their products and services to reduce excess waste, from creating edible packaging to eliminating the need for straws. The following zero-waste restaurants are upping the ante by implementing practices that altogether eliminate their overall contributions to landfills—a move that aligns with today’s eco-conscious youth.


Helsinki’s Restaurant Nolla is so committed to zero waste that it doesn’t even have a trash can. To achieve this level of sustainability, Nolla’s owners worked with local suppliers to find eco-friendly alternatives to single-use packaging. For farm suppliers, produce is delivered using reusable wood crates, while in the case of other suppliers, Nolla purchased containers that could be repeatedly used. For example, Nolla owners asked their local coffee supplier to use a hard plastic container instead of normal vacuum-sealed plastic plastic bags. In addition to how they source their ingredients, Nolla serves a seasonal set menu, which allows the restaurant to utilize what’s local and available and order just the right amount of food, allowing Nolla to avoid surplus ingredients.


Brooklyn’s Lighthouse is dishing up more than healthy, farm-to-table cooking: it’s also serving a lesson in sustainability. Sibling owners Naama and Assaf Tamir wanted to create a zero waste restaurant ecosystem that would greatly reduce its landfill contributions, as well as foster a connection between guests and their food. To bridge this divide, the duo implemented different waste-reducing practices, like switching from plastic to metal straws, donating compostable waste, and giving oyster shells to the Billion Oyster Project where they’re used to rehabilitate reefs. Such efforts to reduce waste resonate with modern youth, who worry about the state of the environment and value businesses that do their part to help save it.


Three-Michelin-star-chef Dominique Crenn has set her sights on a new venture: a zero-waste café and bakery, Boutique Crenn. The Bay Area eatery will require visitors to bring their own coffee cups, containers, and bags if they wish to carry out. Crenn also aims to eliminate the mountains of single-use food delivery packaging by working with suppliers and offering cost-efficient and sustainable reusable alternatives. San Francisco has already implemented bans and restrictions on disposable foodware, making Boutique Crenn ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainable dining. As youth grapple with the effects of climate change, restaurants like Boutique Crenn that help them on their race to zero waste will find favor among this eco-conscious cohort.

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