Meet Shannon Ross of Lemongrass.
The downtown restaurant was recently recertified as an Environmental Steward by the city. The certification is part of Annapolis' Clean and Green City initiative. To be eligible for the two-year certification, a business must earn enough points based on environmental best practices and pass a verification inspection.
For more information on the program, visit SustainableAnnapolis.com.
Greater Annapolis Patch: What are the green initiatives you have instituted for your business?
Shannon Ross: Aside from some pretty basic strides like making sure all of our light bulbs are energy efficient, our faucets are low-flow/aerated, and our cleaning products and hand soaps are all biodegradable and do not contain NTA (nitrilotriacetic acid) or phosphates, I've been able to work with the city of Annapolis to be the first restaurant (along with Metropolitan Kitchen and Lounge—I did this for them too:)) to recycle through the city!
I had to order our own 96-gallon bins, and must admit I looked pretty silly rolling them down Spa Road from my house, but it was WELL worth it. In this day in age, I think it's just irresponsible to not recycle, and with SO many bars and restaurants downtown and beyond, I hope more and more establishments will enroll and hopefully we can get a two-day a week pickup.
Our waste has diminished by half and how great would it be if every restaurant could say that. The most recent thing I've been able to accomplish is composting, which has know taken our trash waste down even more.
Rusty, from Harry Browne's, helped hook me up with Justin, from Veteran Compost. Justin comes twice a week to swap out our full containers of food scraps, napkins, and more for empty, clean ones ... it's awesome! Our whole staff has really gotten into it and it makes me so proud!
Patch: Why did you decide to pursue your green efforts?
Ross: I always said that if I ever owned my own restaurant that I would want it to be run like my own home. When Jeanna Beard approached me about Sustainable Annapolis, I thought ... why am I waiting?
I may just be a server at Lemongrass, but if my 4-year-old knows which bin to put his banana peel in (and which bin mommy puts her empty wine bottle in) I figured why can't a bunch of teenagers and 20/30-somethings get it too?
Our world is changing whether we want to admit it or not, and I believe that every little (yes, even the littlest) stride can make a difference.
Patch: Other than cost, what are the biggest hurdles to using even more
green techniques in your business?
Ross: Because we are such creatures of habit, the biggest hurdle is just the change itself. Changing bulbs, etc., is simple but implementing composting was the big one.
For the first couple of days, with the composting, I got a couple weird looks, questions, and just simply "um, gross." But after a couple of days of just walking behind everyone in the kitchen and on the floor, composting became second nature.
Because we are all so close at Lemongrass, I was able to work with the staff to set up the perfect locations for the recycle bins and composting buckets. Now, we don't even think twice about what we are doing, and everyone is composting and recycling like we've been doing it from day one.
I think that hurdles only exist in the initial phases. Once people realized, in this case, that the hurdle was a solution to a greater problem, it became part of our everyday routine.
Patch: If cost and time were not issues, what green technique would you
like to implement at your business?
Ross: So, if time where not an issue, I'd like to travel back into time and have Gavin and Jody build this building under LEED certifications. I also would love solar panels on the roof, which I actually just heard were in the works, which makes me super happy and I wish I could afford the up-front cost at my own home.
Patch: If you had one wish to create a new green technique/initiative what
would it be and why?
Ross: I wish that there where more incentives for the food industry, as a whole, to produce goods with an emphasis on quality over quantity. There are so many articles out there supporting the fact that a burger made 40 years ago has more than double the nutritional value than one, the same size, produced today.
We hear of so many organic farms that can't re-seed their own crop because of regulations, when, the guys down the street can, with harmful environmental impact.
I wish we lived in a society that truly supported farmers, manufacturers, and retailers who want to produce and/or sell quality goods without having to compromise people's health and the environment, because there are many, many out there that just can't compete.