SRA Members have a fantastic knack of proving that there are innumerable ways, innovative and simple, of becoming ever more sustainable. For some, it’s all about the food on the plate and ensuring that every last ingredient is impeccably sourced. Others, for whom the sourcing is important, but not the be all and end all, reckon that they’re best judged on how they fulfil their responsibilities in the community. Then there’s a third group, some of whom like to think of themselves as the sustainability purists, for whom it’s what goes on back of house, minimising their impact on the environment, that really matters most.

Well, maybe there’s a fourth group. Those for whom you can’t have one without the others. The all-rounders.

First to be certified

Proof of this, came this month, with news that Three Star Food Made Good rated Wahaca, has become the first restaurant group in the UK to be certified a CarbonNeutral® Company.

As the group’s Co-Founder, Mark Selby, says, the now 23-site group, has always worked tirelessly to keep its footprint to a minimum and that this certification is welcome and deserved reward and recognition for those efforts.

He added: “From humble, naïve beginnings in 2007 where we just did anything we could think of – including reusing all the wood from the old dance floor in Covent Garden to build our new restaurant walls, to persuading all our new waiters that we weren’t mad and really did want to segregate waste into 7 different bins – to a now really quite sophisticated platform where we assess and challenge every element of our business; asking “ how can we do this so that we don’t leave a negative footprint on the planet?

“To achieve a CarbonNeutral status in the year where carbon emissions are on the global agenda in such a significant way is another milestone in this journey and one we are very proud of.”

Everyone’s a winner

While some of what Wahaca does could be seen as simple, there’s a lot that is truly innovative and reflects a genuine passion for pushing the boundaries to find solutions that work on a number of levels with numerous winners.

We think that using the heat energy created by fridges and freezers to heat the restaurants’ hot water is pretty cool, as is seeking out local suppliers for ingredients that would normally have to travel half way round the world – like the poblano peppers and tomatillos from Riverford. Their Brixton restaurant also teamed up with the local Brixton Brewery for an exclusive Lupulo pale ale.

Affordable, greener stoves

Remember, we mentioned at the top about being an all-rounder? Well now the Mexican street food group is donating funds to make efficient cookstoves affordable to low-income households in rural Mexico, reducing fuel use by as much as 60%, cutting air pollution and minimising the risk of burns for children. Boom!

Put it all together, along with some renewable energy instruments for the energy used in Wahaca restaurants and head office, and carbon credits for its remaining emissions including business travel, and you have the first restaurant group to have achieved a net zero carbon footprint in accordance with The CarbonNeutral Protocol.

Now that’s hot!