Restaurant Association President Encourages His Members to Lead the Way on Water Conservation

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 5.16.36 PMIt’s customary to get a glass of water when you dine out, whether you plan on drinking it or not. But this summer, the absence of the obligatory H2O may be a sign that the restaurant you are eating at is simply doing its part to conserve water.

ian tostensonBritish Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association President and CEO Ian Tostenson is urging his membership to take a leadership role in the fight to conserve water in Metro Vancouver.

“They want to do the right thing,” notes Tostenson. “The public expects us to be doing it. And in a way, it’s good for business, because people like to support businesses that show a community-minded side. I think it’s a good message to see our industry taking these steps.”

More Dishes, Less Ice

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 5.12.19 PMTostenson is advising local restaurants to ensure
dishwashers are full before starting a wash cycle, reducing the amount of ice being made to avoid throwing out unused ice, and preplanning the thawing of frozen food – so the quick-defrost method of putting a frozen item in a pan of water can be avoided. He is also suggesting using less water when cooking pasta and finding ways to repurpose used water, such as watering plants in and around their eating establishments. He says the response from his members had been overwhelmingly positive.

“They are saying to me, ‘thank you for recognizing our role in this.”

Restrooms Account for 31% of Restaurant Water Use
source: BCRFPA

The kitchen accounts for half of all water used in a restaurant. source: BCRFSA

According to an EPA study (pdf), half of the water usage in restaurants occurs in the kitchen. But 31% is used in the restroom. For that reason Tostenson is recommending that his members look at things such as reductions in the frequency of automatic rinsing in urinals and exploring low-flow options for toilets, with the caveat that health and safety concerns must not be compromised, both for patrons and kitchen staff.

Goal of 10% to 15% Reduction
No water in your glass? That's a sign of good service this summer.

No water in your glass? That’s a good sign during this dry summer. source: BCRFSA

He points out the California law now prohibiting automatically serving water in restaurants and thinks that this is another tactic local restaurants might voluntarily consider as a means of conserving water.

“We believe in getting the (conservation) message out because people look to restaurants for stewardship,” says Tostenson. “So I’ve put it to our members – let’s go after this and set a goal of 10 to 15% reduction (in water use).

Want to join the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association in working to be part of the solution? The information linked below is intended to support your conversations about low rainfall and snow, drought, and our reservoir levels:

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