The Whitemarsh Island carry-out cafe Thrive has recently become the first-ever certified green restaurant in Savannah, as certified by The Green Restaurant Association.
"When we opened the restaurant we had all intentions of becoming green certified," says Sarah Dudys, manager of the cafe, celebrating two years in operation this May. "It has been a long process, but it is definitely a goal we achieved. We feel great knowing that our customers can fell good about lowering their carbon footprint by coming and supporting us."
So what exactly makes a restaurant green?
"We do a lot of green practices that other restaurants may not have started yet. For example, all of our packaging is recyclable, which means our cups, our plates, and our utensils are all biodegradable, as well as our to-go packaging," explains Dudys. "If we do have plastic containers, they are the number one recycling number so that they are the easiest to recycle."
Thrive also composts all kitchen scraps. "All vegetable scraps, eggshells, everything that we can possible compost in the kitchen, we do," Dudys says. "So, that eliminates a lot of extra garbage and extra waste that would come out of the kitchen."
The restaurant has also installed water aerators on all their sinks, saving up to 10,000 gallons of water a year. They also have a water barrel that catches run-off rain to water all of our herbs.
"The most important, and perhaps the biggest thing is, we buy as much local produce as possible and as much organic food as possible. We are probably 90-95% organic," says Dudys.
The evaluation conducted by The Green Restaurant Association rated the restaurant on categories such as, waste reduction and recycling, water efficiency, sustainable food, energy, disposables, and chemical and pollution prevention.
"We implemented a lot of green practices to begin with so, it wasn't too hard for us to incorporate that into our business when we finally did get green certified," says Dudys. "It does take a little bit of personal drive to tell yourself ‘I want to do this and I want to make this happen.' For other restaurants, it has to be an interest at heart, for sure, in order to be as green as possible."
Now that Thrive has become green and created an eco-friendly atmosphere, their goal is to not only maintain, but also, improve their green practices.
"When we got certified through The Green Restaurant Association, we know that each year, in order to get recertified, we had to increase our certification points. That means, increasing by using alternative energy, incorporating more sustainable packaging, or using more local or organic resources," says Dudys.
"Basically, we know that when next year comes around we are going to be increasing our green practices as much as possible to get recertified. The good thing about it is, The Green Restaurant Association doesn't just certify you and then forget about you. Each year, you get recertified, and you have to show that you've improved by a certain amount of points. We're looking into alternative energy, more sustainable packaging, and other local resources to get the certification."
For more information visit: thriveacarryoutcafe.com