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Greening Your Cafeteria or Dining Hall

This is a comprehensive list of items and actions you can take to green your dining place. Add items related to your situation. Many items may not be feasible or affordable for you. Some actions may be taken immediately with little time and cost. Others may require large costs and take planning. Do what you are able to do and celebrate it.

(You can download a  PDF or Word version of this list at the bottom of this page)



Heating/ insulation

HVAC systems in relation to the ventilation required in kitchens. Get professional review for greatest efficiency.

Indirect outdoor access to retain proper temperature

Green the office (see checklist for Greening Your Office)

Green the bathroom facilities

Water conservation measures (see checklist for Water Conservation)

Low flow faucets

Appliances: Energy Star (highest ratings)

Stoves, grills, ovens, microwaves


Dish Washing

Low flow faucets


Permanent china

Stainless steel service ware

Reusable trays or no trays (studies show less food is taken and therefore less is wasted)

For take-out: Starch-based plates, utensils, containers, cups. Seek local distribution site or go online.

Eliminate plastic bags for take-out

Discounts for people who bring re-usable cups, mugs, and bottles.

Discounts for people who bring their own containers for take-out and leftovers

Dispense water, milk, juice. Avoid plastic water bottles, milk cartons, soda bottles.

Sell reusable mugs and water bottles (with earth care messages).

Sell reusable containers for people to bring for take-out.

Food sources:

Garden of school, camp, congregation.

Buy local and seasonal (e. g. pumpkin cakes and pies)

Organic fruits and vegetables. Humanely-raised animals.

Purchase in quantity to lower packaging

Equal exchange and Fair trade coffee and chocolate. See Lutheran World Relief program

Nutritious food:

Provide vegetarian/ vegan options.

Fresh salads

Low-fat options for entrees and deserts

Provide and promote nutritious drinks

Gluten-free options

Provide diverse portion sizes available to avoid leftovers (half sandwiches, weigh salads)

Recycling and waste:

Provide separate bins for recyclables, compostable foods, and waste. Work for “zero waste” (See Zero Waste programs online)

Compost system onsite or through a compost service. Sell or give for gardens and farms

Invite employees and others to bring compost from home

Look for comprehensive compost company in area (that includes meat and bones)

100% recyclable paper unbleached napkins are compostable

Where legal, send leftover food to food bank, soup kitchens, homeless shelters.

Make diverse portion sizes available to avoid leftover food (e. g. half sandwiches)

Purchase with packaging in mind, where storage and preservation is available

Purchase potato chips in quantity and bag them in small compostable plastic bags

Use compostable garbage bags. Avoid plastic bags that will prevent garbage in them from composting in waste sites.

Conservation practices of patrons:

Use the recycle, compost, and waste bins properly.

Use signage for explanations and reminders

Bring re-usable coffee and tea mugs and water bottles

Take only what you will eat. Eat what you take

Bring re-usable containers for taking leftovers home.

Promotion and Education:

Use signage to promote your dining hall or cafeteria as a green place

Advertise and draw interest by giving more people more choices

Use the changes you make as opportunities to teach campers, students, and parishioners about caring for creation

Put a report or story in your newsletter about your green dining hall

Peter Bakken,
Mar 11, 2015, 2:49 PM
Peter Bakken,
Mar 11, 2015, 2:49 PM