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The Green Life: Trendsetter

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March 10, 2008

Trendsetter

Gl_ts_2Michael Oshman, age 36
Executive director, Green Restaurant Association

It takes more than organic food to make a restaurant green. From the lighting to the linen service, even the most eco-minded owner would have a hard time keeping up with all the best practices. Enter the Green Restaurant Association, which Michael Oshman founded 18 years ago. Since then, he and his team have assessed, helped upgrade, and certified hundreds of dining establishments, leaving the restaurateurs free to do what they do best--feed us.

Q: What is a restaurant's biggest environmental impact?

A: Most people think about whether the waste is recycled or if the coffee is organic, not about the motors in the refrigerators. But the biggest thing restaurants could do to go green would be to reduce their energy use.

Q: What do customers notice when they walk into one of your certified restaurants?

A: Hopefully nothing. If we're successful, they're not going to know that their food is being cooked in a more efficient oven or that healthier cleaning supplies are being used.

Q: How do restaurant owners respond to the changes you propose?

A: In general there's been a major shift in attitude, from "Should we do this?" to "How do we do this?"

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