Downtown Concierge

Inside 43215: Recycling Meets Delicious


inside 43215


Downtown Columbus

While the hippies of the 70s shed some light on the environment with their very first Earth Day party, peeps all around finally understand there are lots of ways to help and there’s room for everyone. Liz Lessner, co-founder of Columbus Food Network (formerly Betty's Family of Restaurants) weighs in on running sustainable restaurants. Read on and you might just get some recycling pointers and a chance to win lunch compliments of Liz and her crew.

How did the Columbus Food League get involved in recycling and pursue zero food waste?

Running a sustainable restaurant group is paramount to all of the owners. Restaurants historically contribute a tremendous amount of waste to the landfill. It was important to us and part of our mission to leave our neighborhood better than we found it by recycling as much as possible.

Thankfully, due to the nature of restaurants, it's incredibly easy to recycle. All of the goods we use can be reused or recycled. We have always recycled glass, plastic, aluminum, cardboard and paper. We recently began composting at The Jury Room and Surly Girl as a pilot and plan to begin composting at all of our locations this year.

What do you think a company/person could do TODAY to start?

I believe recycling at home begins with recycling at work or at school. Lots of kids learn to recycle at school and ask their parents why they don't recycle, and this often is the catalyst. College campuses (and we have a lot of them in Columbus) have pioneered recycling efforts and college kids bring sustainable practices into their dorm rooms and homes. When folks begin to recycle in their workplace or office, they are almost "peer pressured" into recycling and doing so creates good habits at home. Recycling can bring about a feeling of satisfaction by doing the right thing.

Why are you so passionate about this?

As the restaurant industry is the largest private sector employer, we believe we are in a unique position to influence a number of staff and customers to take sustainability seriously and implement easy ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. Finally, if you've never done so, take a visit and tour of the Franklin County Landfill. It will change your habits forever.

What was your best resource?

Mike Minnix of Eartha Limited consulted for us for about six months and allowed us to break some barriers (we changed a SWACO law) and recycle more readily and easily.

So, you've gotten a taste of how one entrepreneurial business owner feels about recycling. How about leading up your own workplace recycling initiative? We've gathered even more information, resources and fun promotional materials right here.

Leave a comment below and tell us what you are doing to improve recycling in your neck of the woods. Be sure to leave your email address so we can get in touch with you to let you know if you have won the free lunch from Liz Lessner and the Columbus Food Network.