Green Dining Alliance Brings Sustainability to St. Louis Restaurant Scene Membership Grows To More Than 100

Green Dining Alliance

By Jenn Derose and Aspen Steiner

The Green Dining Alliance (GDA) is a nonprofit program of St. Louis Earth Day that provides sustainability certification for restaurants and helps them set goals to reduce their environmental impact over time.

Our 100 + member restaurants are provided with tools and strategies to improve sustainable practices throughout their operation. The certification process begins when member restaurants commit to our core concepts: banning Styrofoam, implementing single stream recycling and phasing in energy efficient lighting. From there, an audit is scheduled to evaluate other areas of sustainability including: recycling and waste reduction, sourcing ingredients, water conservation, energy efficiency, chemical usage, awareness and education, and innovation. Member restaurants are granted a rating for each category and then given an overall rating ranging from two to five stars. Whether a restaurant receives a 2-star rating or a 5-star rating, they are granted the same support and types of resources necessary to improve year after year.

The GDA believes it’s important that sustainability is accessible for everyone- that’s why our program is personalized. We meet restaurants where they are and provide practical, pragmatic, cost-effective solutions. The GDA believes that when a restaurant makes simple changes to address sustainability, it can have an outsized impact. Restaurants use more resources and create more waste than similarly sized small businesses. For example, restaurants use 5-7 times more energy than commercial buildings of a similar size – fast service restaurants use up to 10 times more energy, and buildings in general account for nearly 40% of energy emissions. If multiple restaurants reduce their energy consumption a little bit, it can make a big dent in St. Louis’s collective emissions.

The GDA is here to help diners improve their sustainability, too. Our website provides a list of bios on all member restaurants, a map of participating restaurants, and a blog featuring green foodie news and tips. You can see the GDA tabling at events like the Healthy Planet’s Natural Living Expo, providing Green Dining District tours, and speaking at events about how to #EatGreenSTL.

You can support the GDA by becoming a member of their Green Dining Club. You’ll receive a set of reusable cutlery, emails updates about food and sustainability in the STL, and exclusive specials from member restaurants. You can also support the GDA and St. Louis Earth Day by attending our Taste of Green event on October 26th – the $45 ticket includes samplings from 16 GDA certified restaurants and breweries, a photo booth, DJs Cleo Jones and Orlandez Lewis of KDHX, and the opportunity to mingle with the STL’s greenest people!

We are proud of our 100+ restaurants for making an annual commitment to reduce their environmental impact and help make the St. Louis region a more sustainable place for everyone. Look for our logo in the window of your favorite restaurant and visit our website for more information and a complete list of all current GDA-certified member restaurants!

For more information please visit www.greendiningalliance.org and visit our booth at the Healthy Planet Natural Living Expo Oct. 1st in Webster Groves.

The Green Dining Guide is sponsored in part by the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District.