Green Dining Alliance A Program of earthday365 Brings Sustainability to the St. Louis Restaurant Scene

Green Dining Alliance

By Victoria Donaldson

The Green Dining Alliance, a program of earthday365, 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 124 restaurants. We have three Green Dining Districts (South Grand, Maplewood and The Loop) which are areas where at least 25% of the independent restaurants have undergone GDA certification. 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 St. Louis ArtWorks on November 14th from 6-9pm. The price of a ticket includes samplings of GDA certified restaurants and beer tastings from our breweries.

This Green Dining Guide is cosponsored by The St. Louis Jefferson Solid Waste District.