Making Your Restaurant More Sustainable? Your Customers Want to Know

Making Your Restaurant More Sustainable? Your Customers Want to Know
Don't leave your customers out on your journey to becoming a more sustainable business. Consider these ways to communicate your efforts with guests.
by Natalie Zunker Feb 29, 2024 — 3 min read
Making Your Restaurant More Sustainable? Your Customers Want to Know

Today, diners care more about what’s on their plate. How ingredients are grown and handled, where they’re sourced from, and how they reach your restaurant all matter. That’s because sustainability is becoming a growing concern for consumers. And that fact is changing how consumers are spending their dining dollars. 

At least 60% of diners surveyed in the Square 2024 Consumer Dining report said their dining choices are affected by a restaurant’s attitudes toward various issues, including sustainability. Two out of three diners, for instance, care whether food is sourced locally. Over half (62%) of respondents say it’s important that restaurants practice ethically responsible food sourcing, which means workers have safe and fair conditions at all points of the food supply chain.

However, sustainability is a broad, widely used term. And sourcing is just one aspect for restaurant owners to consider. To put the USDA definition of sustainable agriculture in layman’s terms, restaurant owners looking to make their business more sustainable should focus on providing consumers with the best possible product with as little harm to the natural and working environment as possible. 


Already, restaurant leaders across regions are taking action with these consumer preferences in mind. In fact, surveyed owners and managers for the 2024 Future of Restaurants report shared that the leading strategy for staying competitive this year was using more environmentally sustainable sourcing and operations methods, tied to using data insights to better understand what customers want. 


Whether you’re cutting back on food waste, finding local suppliers, rethinking your single-use takeout materials, or making other sustainability efforts, sharing your progress can help you reach more diners. Many customers are looking to support businesses that align with their own values. Often, they’re willing to pay more for the effort. 

Marketing your restaurant’s sustainability practices to your customers 

Think of the touchpoints your guests experience: in person, word-of-mouth, and online. Across each connection, there is an opportunity to share more about your businesses’ sustainability practices so guests are informed. 

Add information to your branded materials.

Your menu isn’t simply a place for guests to choose their meals. It’s also a place where diners can learn more about the choices behind your offerings. Are you sourcing protein or produce from local farmers? Consider adding information about these business partners in a designated section or highlighting individual dishes that feature these ingredients. Taking things further, you can also add a line about your sourcing techniques. Some restaurants, for instance, choose suppliers that practice water conservation or use fuel-efficient trucks, which helps to reduce overall CO2 emissions. To share more about the direct effort your business is making, you can explain practices like food waste reduction on the takeout containers your restaurant offers or place them by disposal bins. 

Train staff to communicate your practices with your guests. 

It’s not always possible for restaurants to display comprehensive sustainability information across physical touchpoints for customers to see. You may lack enough white space on your menu or want to avoid the waste involved in having to update your materials. In both cases, you can make a point to foster organic conversation between your guests and staff about your sustainability efforts. Consider incorporating this information into routine staff training. That way, your team can communicate what your business does to make a difference while they take guest orders, share menu specials, or bring out certain dishes.

Invest in always-on education. 

You can also share more about your restaurant’s sustainability practices online, whether through your company’s website or other distribution channels. Take Salt & Straw, a Portland-based ice cream company, for example. Not only did the team highlight their food waste reduction philosophy on their website, but they also took to their social media accounts to show their work in action. 

In addition to posting on social media, you can spread the word about what you’re doing directly to customers through email and text marketing. 

Building a better business that’s positioned for the planet’s future 

By making an effort to make your restaurant business more sustainable, you’re doing good for the planet and your business. According to research from Bain & Company, consumers are willing to pay 12% more for sustainable products.

As more restaurants adopt sustainable sourcing and operations strategies this year to stay ahead of the competition, it’s critical for owners to share these efforts with their community. Doing so can help show your customers you match their values, ultimately fostering an environment where guests are inspired to return. 

Natalie Zunker
Natalie Zunker is an editor at Square. She specializes in developing strategic content for restaurant sellers to help them run their business and reach their goals.


Keep Reading

Tell us a little more about yourself to gain access to the resource.

i Enter your first name.
i Enter your last name.
i Enter a valid email.
i Enter a valid phone number.
i Enter your company name.
i Select estimated annual revenue.
i This field is required.

Thank you!
Check your email for your resource.

Results for

Based on your region, we recommend viewing our website in:

Continue to ->