Recent report suggests diners are increasingly concerned with the environmental impact of eating out…

The words ‘locally sourced’, ‘fresh’ and ‘organic’ are a regular feature on restaurant menus these days, and quite rightly so – after all, sourcing quality produce is the first step to creating quality dishes. Yet a new report suggests that consumers aren’t just on the lookout for restaurants that source fresh ingredients and reduce food miles, but those that uphold wider sustainable practices too.

The report by the Sustainable Restaurant Association, entitled The Discerning Diner: How consumers’ attitudes to eating out have become more sophisticated, was put together following a survey of 1000 people across the UK which found that food waste, health and nutrition and locally sourced produce are the top three issues for diners when it comes to choosing where to eat out. This is in contrast to the 2009 findings, which saw those surveyed rank local sourcing, employee treatment and whether food was organic as their highest priorities.

Food waste has been a hot topic in the media recently, with high-profile campaigns such as Love Food Hate Waste urging us to use up our leftovers and save money in the process. While many of us are committed to recycling and reducing food waste at home, it now seems consumers expect restaurants to follow suit – and that diners don’t mind paying more at a restaurant with eco-friendly credentials. In fact, 56 per cent of those asked said they would be prepared to pay more at a restaurant that is investing in sustainability, and almost half said they would be prepared to pay up to ten per cent more for their meal in a sustainable eatery.

You can find out more  by checking out the SRA’s website, or by following them on Twitter @the_SRA. If their survey has got you thinking about eco-friendly eating out, take a look at a few of our favourite sustainable restaurants below.

Arbor Restaurant at The Green House Hotel, Bournemouth
This hotel lives and breathes a sustainable lifestyle; everything is designed to minimise its impact on the environment. This extends to its restaurant, Arbor, where they not only source local and organic farm-assured produce, but also use low-energy induction cookers in the kitchen and keep honey bees on the roof. The restaurant floor is also decked with FSC timber. The Sustainable Restaurant Association recently awarded Arbor top marks for their efforts, and The Green House was named AA’s ‘Eco Hotel of the Year’ for 2012-2013.

Preston Park Tavern, Brighton
This lovingly restored Victorian pub has been awarded three stars by the SRA – their highest possible rating – and it’s easy to see why. Sustainability is taken very seriously indeed at Preston Park. They only use ethically sourced local produce to create their delicious dishes, and the team here are more than happy to discuss the provenance of produce with diners.

Yet their dedication to being eco-friendly doesn’t stop at the daily changing menu; they buy recycled napkins, serve chilled filtered tapwater rather than bottled, and ensure nothing goes to waste by getting creative – including making cork boards from used corks and garlands from bottle tops, and melting old candles down to form new ones.

Bordeaux Quay, Bristol
This award-winning eatery is a Bristol harbourside institution and has a reputation for offering the best in food, drink and service – not to mention lovely views across the water. For these guys, sourcing produce locally doesn’t just mean they buy from a local company, but from a local, ethical farm.

When Bordeaux Quay was renovated in 2005, they recycled any unused materials and auctioned equipment for charity, and decked out the restaurant with sustainable wood. They also have an extensive recycling policy and a rainwater-harvesting tank that collects water for use in the bathrooms, and ensure they save energy in every area possible.

Is sustainability high on your list of priorities when you eat out? Do you have a favourite eco-conscious eatery?

Michelle Grady

Michelle Grady

Michelle is an ex-Fed Up & Drunker who has now been released into the wild.

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