Have you made an effort to green your restaurant? Good for you.  But installing high efficiency equipment, changing your lightbulbs, and using local, sustainable produce is only the first step.

Education is an important component of creating a green restaurant. In fact, according to a 2010 survey conducted by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association, 61% of restaurant patrons said they’d be more likely to eat at a restaurant that featured organic food or food grown in an environmentally friendly way.

Skeptical? Take a look at what a Riverside, California, McDonald’s restaurant did to highlight their achievements.

The franchise, owned by Tom and Candace Spiel, made customer education a primary part of  their greening innovations with a high-tech, interactive display.

The display incorporates a 42-inch LED touchscreen in the restaurant’s lobby, which takes customers on an animated tour through the restaurant and highlights its green innovations, which include drought-resistant plants, photovoltaic cells and recycled denim insulation. Along with information about the restaurant’s systems, the display also provides info on bus routes, bike trails and community events.

Obviously, an LED touchscreen TV is a big investment for a small restaurant—but if you’d like to fill your customers in on what you’re doing to green your restaurant, going high-tech isn’t a prerequisite. Try these low-cost tips instead:

  • Use your menu to highlight an emphasis on local and sustainable produce, like Cowbell restaurant in Toronto, incorporating farm/producer information into the dish descriptions where possible.
  • On that note, go ahead and use your decor to trumpet your green-ness. At the Bread Bar in Hamilton, they have a list of seasonal produce on a chalkboard wall that changes with—you guessed it—the seasons.
  • Take your green efforts online. Dedicate a section of your website to your local suppliers. Blog about the challenges of going green. Tweet about your new compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Anything to get word out there that you’re making positive changes will help boost your profile with your (potential) customers.
  • Approach local media about writing or filming a spotlight on your restaurant. News outlets are constantly looking for compelling, local material—so if you have an interesting story to tell, let them know.

How do you educate your customers about your restaurant? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: momentcaptured1