I wish I were in a geographical situation where I could patronize this restaurant. I don't get to NYC very often, but I am saluting this new restaurant, Rhodora.
The new eatery is one of a handful of establishments in various cities that have begun to operate under a zero-waste ethos, meaning they do not send any trash or food waste that enters their business to a landfill. There is not even a traditional trash can on the premises.
The aim is to lessen the restaurants’ environmental impact while running a profitable venture — with a possible added benefit of solidifying their eco-conscious bona fides among discerning clientele. Such radical idealism comes with challenges, including finding producers and distributors who can accommodate requests like compostable packaging and figuring out how to recycle broken appliances.
I had no idea that the food waste problem was so huge.
A recent report from ReFED, a nonprofit organization focused on food waste reduction, found that restaurants in the United States generate about 11.4 million tons of food waste annually, or $25.1 billion in costs. The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that food waste and packaging account for nearly 45 percent of the materials sent to landfills in the United States.
But is there a financial barrier to restaurants to do this? No, not according to one study.
There are financial incentives for restaurants to invest in these zero-waste practices, with one study finding that restaurants save on average $7 for every $1 invested in kitchen food waste-reduction practices.
Halley Chambers and Henry Rich are the co-owners of Rhodora.
“I don’t want to pretend we have everything figured out,” Mr. Rich said.
“We’re at one pivot point,” Mr. Rich said. “The hope is that maybe we can influence and inspire some people above and below to learn what zero waste is, because it’s so beautifully simple not having a trash and not sending it to the landfill.”