Sustainability is the need of the hour; with families ditching plastic and segregating waste and small businesses opting for recycled materials, the hospitality sector is following suit. The sector relies highly on nature, not only in terms of food consumption but also by the fact that it attracts tourists.
Restaurants and hotels across the nation have switched to effective sustainable practices. While cutting out plastic and using local produce have become mandatory practices, many have also turned to in-house farms, solar electricity and water conservation.
With a focus on sustainable eating, Mumbai’s Sante Spa Cuisine relies completely on recycled material for their interiors and menus, apart from using local produce. Kaneesha Jain, the co-franchisee holder, believes that people will learn if the hospitality sector gets down to taking small measures.
“While we were doing the interiors, we made sure to avoid plastic. We have used a lot of recycled wood for the tables. Even the lamps are made out of recycled cardboard, and menus from recycled paper. Our packaging material is all paper, and even the cellophane tape has been replaced with paper tape,” she says.
As for the kitchen, the staff uses special biodegradable plastic gloves and glass bottles for serving, as well as unique straws made of banana leaves. “We make the straws on the spot; just roll the leaf and tie it with a thread. We use neem cutlery that is better for digestion. We have also mailed all our vendors to not send us plastic material . Most of them have changed their packaging to make it sustainable. And after seeing what we are doing, our neighbours have implemented a few things too,” the co-founder shares.
Similarly, ITC Ltd conducts business based on the triple bottom line principles. “Sustainability is a vital part of our journey of responsible luxury,” says H.C. Vinayaka, Vice-President Technical, EHS and Sustainability, ITC Ltd.
“We recycle more than 98 per cent of our solid waste, and we are in the process of eliminating single-use plastic (SUP) from our operations by the end of this year,” he adds.
A new lifestyle
At the Sula Vineyards in Maharashtra, 99 per cent of packaging material (including bottles) is recyclable, amounting to 5,000 tons of recyclable material.
The Sula team has not only decreased its diesel consumption by approximately 10,000 litres annually — by installing solar-powered pumps at their farms — but also use drip irrigation, which reduces water usage by almost 30-40 per cent.
While the shift to sustainable practices does affect one’s budget, the general manager at The Resort Mumbai, Satyajit Kotwal, says it will only help save the environment in the long run. He adds that they are committed to not wasting even a drop of water.
“As a standard practice, we do not fill the glass with water up to the rim, until one specifically asks for a full glass of water. There are half-empty water bottles left by guests for events, and we collect those and use them for cleaning purposes,” he reveals.
The Resort grows its own vegetables throughout the year. “Right from papaya, passion fruit, banana, and cucumber to mint, green chilli, tomato and bottle gourd, we grow our vegetables and fruits. We even have a basket of passion fruit kept at the reception, free for the guests to pick and relish,” says Kotwal with a smile.
Similarly, Sante Spa Cuisine has tied up with local vendors to bring produce directly from the farmers, right from brown rice from Bangalore to black rice from West Bengal. Meanwhile, the ITC group sources more than 40 per cent of their edible ingredients within 100 miles of their hotels, minimising their carbon footprint while retaining the freshness of the ingredients.
For chef Manu Chandra, Chef-Partner, Olive Group of restaurants, sustainability is mere tokenism if not tackled holistically. At their various properties, Chandra aims to represent India in different ways. At Olive Bangalore, they have set up a composting device wherein kitchen waste is used to make manure for the garden.
“Plus, there is very little food wastage. Principally, we do not create a huge amount of food ahead of time. I was aghast at the amount of food wasted by the end of Sunday brunch buffet so I have killed it completely. Now we have a menu that allows you to order small portions of food, share, finish, and then order something else,” he elucidates.
According to the chef, taking such efforts fills one with a beautiful sense of vindication. However, he warns against calling sustainability a trend. “More importantly, it creates a valuable educational chain. Trends are born with the tendency to fade away, this is a movement that needs to be made mainstream forever,” Chandra concludes.