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What a crazy last month it has been for the world, and April will most likely be no different. It has been a very stressful few weeks for all of us as we navigate through and adjust to this new, but temporary, normal. However, in honor of April being National Month of Hope and with Earth Day approaching, I’d really love to take a second and look at some of the positive change that’s come from all of this.

Most importantly, consider the beneficial impact on the environment and our planet. The stay-at-home orders have not only significantly cut down on the amount of car emissions cutting their way through the o-zone layer, but have left us all with more time to reflect on some of these bigger issues. Now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your impact on this world, both personally and professionally. Think about the difference you or your business can make moving forward, even if it is making a few little changes at a time. So how can you be more sustainable?

Today, the Millennial generation has placed a higher priority on sustainability than any other before them. They feel a strong connection between being healthy, environmentally friendly and a better quality of life. Restaurants and food & beverage brands have an incredible opportunity to stand out in the crowd by supporting and sharing these same values and priorities. So what are some steps your business, and even your brand, could take to help appeal to this growing population and their eco-friendly initiative?

For Consumer Packaged Goods:
1) Use the right materials. Rethink your package design to include recyclable or reuseable materials like paper, glass or biodegradable plastics. OR think outside of the box and come up with new & exciting use for the packaging itself. For example, a carton that could then be used as a tissue box cover.
2) Use less packaging. Consider whether you can reduce the amount of packaging for or around your products. This includes shipping materials that are within your control.
3) Go local. The closer your manufacturers are, the fewer carbon footprints your company leaves behind. Do your research and find other local businesses that share your values.
4) Avoid mixed materials. Mixed materials are less likely to be recycled because they can’t always be separated during the process. Try to choose one that works for best for your business.
5) Share your efforts. Let your audience know your values, concerns, goals, etc. Communicate effectively and educate your customers on how to dispose of or reuse your product packaging. Make it easy.
For Restaurants:
1) Use sustainable products. Use recycled paper for your menu, ditch one-use plastics, use recyclable takeout containers and utensils, use compostable straws.
2) Reduce waste. Implement practices to cut down on waste, consume less water, and use less electricity. Donate food scraps. Invest in top-quality & eco-friendly appliances.
3) Localize your supply chain. Buying local not only supports your community, but saves you money on shipping.
4) Grow your own food. Control what goes into your garden and reduce carbon emissions at the same time. Provide more fresh, high quality ingredients. Compost food scraps.

5) Encourage positive lifestyles. Promote health for your customers AND your staff. Build a strong, eco-friendly restaurant culture and brand. Share it with everyone!

Brands are challenged now more than ever to find sustainable and economically viable practices. According to a report by the National Restaurant Association, about half of customers say that a restaurant’s efforts in sustainability can be factors in where they choose to eat. Also, New EcoFocus Trends Survey reveals that 72% of Millennials feel more positive towards brands that only use recyclable packaging made with renewable resources. This means packaging and products need to provide true value for their customers through their eco-friendly and sustainable efforts. How will your business help support change?