Restaurants across the UK are poised to plunge into comforting candlelight when they offer customers the chance to join the largest global celebration of the planet at 8.30pm on 25 March at the culmination of a month-long industry campaign to reduce energy use.
Mystery menus, menus crafted from uber-local ingredients only and mouth-watering specially created cocktails, are just some of the ways in which restaurants are turning their candlelight dinners into an extra special occasion to mark the tenth WWF Earth Hour.
This is the third year that the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) has partnered with WWF. And Earth Hour 2017 comes at the end of the SRA’s campaign throughout March, pressing the industry to reduce energy use, thereby making significant financial savings – a 20% cut in energy costs can represent the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales – and preserve valuable natural resources.
The iconic OXO Tower Restaurant, Brasserie & Bar, all of the restaurants in the Red Carnation hotel group along with former Food Made Good Restaurant of the Year ODE-truefood and the four Cubitt House pubs, are just a handful of the dozens of venues participating in this worldwide event.
Yeo Valley announced it was taking the unusual step of opening its Somerset HQ’s Canteen on a Saturday night for Earth Hour and sold out almost immediately. Guests at the Gladwin Brothers’ three London restaurants, The Shed, Rabbit and Nutbourne will be asked to guess the ingredients of their eight-course special candlelight dinner tasting menu.
UK restaurants are responsible for higher carbon emissions than the whole of Costa Rica – 8 million tonnes, according to a 2015 report by energy company E.ON. The same report said that three quarters of restaurateurs did not have the tools to make positive changes.
Andrew Stephen, Chief Executive of the SRA, said: “As a whole, the hospitality and foodservice sector uses energy like there is no tomorrow. Even those with the best intentions often don’t know how to change their wasteful behaviour. By hosting a month-long conversation the SRA aims to give the best in the business the chance to shine a light on their gold standard practice, inspiring those who are still in the dark to make positive change.
“Earth Hour will then provide restaurants with the perfect opportunity to extend the conversation to their customers, and demonstrate that a Good restaurant doesn’t waste natural resources.”
Restaurants in all Red Carnation Hotels will be serving guests candlelit dinners for the fifth time. The group has developed a range of innovative ways to engage guests, like leaving invitations on their pillows to a candlelit dinner as well as creating special cocktails and one-off menus. Daylesford Cookery School will serve a meal with ingredients sourced exclusively from its own farm.
After participating in last year’s event Arbor Restaurant at The Green House Hotel in Bournemouth, three-time winner of the Food Made Good Award for Environment found its customers eager to know more about its ethos and said everyone enjoyed the atmosphere so much they kept the lights off all evening. General Manager Louise Chapman said: “It really helped raise awareness of what we do with guests. Lots of them wanted to know more about our sustainability initiatives and it was great to participate in a global event.”
2016 was the hottest year on record and a new high for the third year in a row. This year is Earth Hour’s 10th anniversary and UK landmarks, such as Big Ben, the London Eye, and the Palace of Holyrood have already signed-up to join the switch off.
Earth Hour is the world’s biggest environmental event – every year millions of people take part worldwide and last year in the UK, over 9 million people took part alongside over 1000 business and organisations as well as 4600 schools.
Any restaurant or foodservice business can get involved in the SRA’s Value Natural Resources campaign. Join the conversation online here and on social using #EnergySmart.
And if you’d like to serve candlelit dinners for Earth Hour, all you need is some candles and a box of matches. Sign up to register here and receive a planning pack.