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12 sustainability tips that don't cost the earth

Sustainability is becoming more than a moral decision. It’s becoming a business decision.

But it can also be empowering and lead to a better product. Here are some ideas to help you make your food stall more sustainable.

1. Control your portion sizes.

Food left on the plate often goes to landfill and generates methane as it decomposes (which is 20 times worse for the environment than CO2). Simple solution? Smaller portions.

2. Use seasonal produce.

Seasonal produce is cheaper than out-of-season ingredients, tastes better and fresher and is good for the environment. Win win win.

3. Source sustainably and ethically.

Red tractor meat

Check the MSC website or the Greenpeace Seafood Red List for details of fish under threat, then avoid! Look for Red Tractor signs to show that meat has lived under minimum welfare conditions and source locally produced fruit and veg to support your local independent economy.

4. Work leftovers into your menu!

Whether it’s using discarded vegetable ends for stock, surplus meat for stews or vegetables for pickling, reusing leftovers is a money saver and waste-reducer.

5. Use ugly veg and less popular cuts.

Ugly vegetables and fruit

Get to know your suppliers so that, with their help, you can work out the best way to use their produce. Do they have any less popular cuts of meat or ugly vegetables? You can often get high quality flavours at a fraction of the price by accepting less than perfect looks. Plus you’ll be doing the producer a favour!

6. Get composting.

Did you know that by composting unusable food waste you can capture the methane by-product and turn it into fuel?! Ask your local composter if they’ll accept your biodegradable packaging with your waste food and be prepared to provide your own composting bin at markets where the organisers aren’t able to do so.

7. Use the “Just in Time” method.

The Just in Time production method enables you to cut down on waste by using equipment or delivering materials exactly when they are needed. One NCASS member managed to cut their LPG costs by 60% at Glastonbury just by strictly managing when different burners were on and the temperature that each was set to!

8. Turn your waste oil into fuel.

Cooking oil

These days there are lots of biofuel producers who will work with you to turn your waste oil into fuel to power buses, generators and much more.

9. Donate unusable food waste.

Can you use a food waste redistribution service to donate ingredients that would otherwise go to landfill post-market? Try Eighth Plate, FareShare or The Real Junk Food Project.

10. Get your appliances serviced regularly.

How else will you make sure they’re working at optimum efficiency? Be ready to replace inefficient equipment too.

11. Sign up to Takestock.com.

It’s the eBay for unwanted food stock. If you’ve got more stock than you can use, simply auction it before it goes off. Here's where you can sign up.


12. Inspire your staff.

Make sure they understand the importance of your sustainable practices and set the standards you expect whether you’re there or not.

When it comes to putting changes like these into practice, incremental adjustment is best. Running a sustainable business means that you’ll constantly be looking at your methods and trying to find ways to make them more efficient, improve them or even cut them out altogether.

What suits one business might not necessarily suit yours, so make sure you only make changes where possible and practical. Just don’t forget to tell customers, organisers, bloggers (anyone really!) what you’re doing. These days, people like this stuff!

For more help, take the NCASS sustainability crash course, available at www.ncasstraining.co.uk and half price for NCASS members. Further great sources of information on sustainability in catering and events are A Greener Festival, Julie’s Bicycle, The Sustainable Restaurant Association, Kambe Events and Sustain: The Good Food Guide for Festival and Street Food Caterers.

Join the Nationwide Caterers Association for just
£20.25 p/m


Work opportunities, legal documents, essential and invaluable advice, training codes, cashback and lots more are the name of the game here at NCASS HQ. And with prices starting from just £20.25 per month, why not become the latest member of the NCASS Family? Maximise the profitability of your food business with NCASS membership. > Find out more

Want to talk about membership? Call 0300 124 6866

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When you join the association we send you work opportunities directly from Event Organisers via text message. They can also contact you directly via your membership control panel.

When you join up we ask you to write a bit about your business and provide some photos; this, along with your location and the food types you specialise in, is used to automatically create you a profile page so we can show you off to Event Organisers.

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