Green Dining Alliance Brings Sustainability to St. Louis Restaurant Scene

Membership Grows To More Than 100

By Jenn Derose

The Green Dining Alliance, a program of St. Louis Earth Day, certifies restaurants in sustainable practices, connecting them with resources to reduce their carbon footprint, reduce waste, conserve water, source locally, and more. All GDA restaurants recycle, phase in energy efficient lighting, never use Styrofoam, and set goals to improve over time. The GDA meets restaurants where they are, helping them along in their sustainability journey – from those who are new to recycling to those with solar panels on their roof and compost bins in every room. The GDA offers strategies for restaurants on all parts of the sustainability spectrum – there’s always more to learn and ways to improve when it comes to lowering our environmental impact.

GDA certification involves a site visit and an audit, which results in a star rating on our website. The auditor visits potential member restaurants every year, guiding the owner, front of the house manager, or back of the house manager through a series of questions regarding all areas of their operations: waste management, sourcing, energy consumption, water use, chemical use, education, and innovative practices. The GDA crafts a detailed report based on the results of the audit that suggests practical, pragmatic, cost effective strategies that can lower each restaurant’s environmental impact – often while saving money!

The GDA grew from 4 restaurants in 2012 to 9 in 2013, ended 2014 with 39, and jumped to 64 in early 2016. We are now at well over 100 restaurants. We added a third Green Dining District this year in South Grand, who joined Maplewood and The Loop as areas where at least 25% of the independent restaurants have undergone GDA certification.

This year, the GDA received an award from the Environmental Protection Agency as a Food Recovery Challenge Participant. Restaurants toss around 11 million tons of food every year, and that food goes to the landfill, where it releases methane, a greenhouse gas with several times the warming potential of CO2. We encourage restaurants to reduce portion sizes, eliminate unnecessary sides and garnishes, perform waste audits, and compost to help them reduce the amount of organic material that hits the landfill.

Visit www.greendiningalliance.org for a complete list of participating restaurants – be sure to use our site when choosing where to dine out. You can help support the GDA grow by joining the Green Dining Club on our website, or by attending our Taste of Green event at Willow this October 25th from 6-9pm. The price of a ticket includes samplings of GDA certified restaurants, beer tastings from our breweries, and music by DJ Orlandez and DJ Makeda Kravitz of KDHX!