AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Ted Turner: Media Mogul and Green Restaurateur DATE: 6/11/2008 11:56:00 AM ----- BODY:

When CNN merged with AOL/Time Warner, CNN founder Ted Turner lost his job and about $7 billion. Since he was down to his last $1.5 billion, he couldn’t afford to buy CBS and continue to compete in the media industry. Instead, he chose to open a restaurant.

How did he get from TV to restaurant? As he tells it, he previously satiated cravings for entertainment, and now he’s satiating cravings for food. He’s in the cravings business. (Next up, he asks, a chain of brothels?) And he did have some experience in the food business – from buying the Atlanta Falcons and Hawks came along food concessions stands.

This morning, I attended a lively “discussion” between famed chef Todd English and Ted Turner. The focus was the greening of the restaurant industry. Since Ted’s Montana Grill was built green from the ground up, Ted and his partner George McKerrow, Jr. shared insights and experiences that both the seasoned restaurateur and diner can gain from.

Here are some of the highlights and tips:

  1. “War is bad because it’s killing off our diners.” – Paraphrased quote from Ted Turner.
  2. Drink stirrers and straws are a hidden culprit of plastic waste. Consider not using a stirrer and use a spoon instead. Paper and wooden stirrers offer another option. And what about bamboo? They did not mention this option, but bamboo is a highly renewable source.
  3. Switch light bulbs to energy efficient fluorescent. They cost more upfront, but use less energy and last longer. Depending on usage, you can recoup costs in two years or less. Fluorescent light bulbs do need to be recycled. Here’s a link for a company in Massachusetts that handles the recycling of light bulbs.
  4. Get a water extractor for your garbage waste. It will reduce the amount of waste and the expense of rubbish removal.
  5. Reduce plastic use. And always recycle glass, paper, and plastic.
  6. Eliminate bottled water as this increase the amount of packaging needed. Consider options for filtered water.
  7. Use recycled and compostable paper and plastic products. These disposable products will decompose in 50 days in landfills instead of 50+years.
  8. In order to incentivize employees to take public transportation to work: pay for public transit cost as an employee benefits. Those who choose to drive are on their own.
  9. Buy locally to reduce the food miles.
  10. Buy organic and all-natural foods because it does not introduce harmful chemicals into our land systems.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Bob Perry DATE:6/20/2008 07:56:00 PM I was there too, and yes, Ted Turner was indeed a hoot. But set aside his levity and iconoclasm and you find there's a lot of there there. Ted, admirably and refreshingly, has put a considerable amount of his loads of money where his busy mouth is.

While I thought that the presentation as a whole [essentially a kick-off event promoting a National Restaurant Association greening initiative - see: http://conserve.restaurant.org/] could have been stronger, the messages that came across were clear: (1) The restaurant industry is a resource hog [utilities] and a big waste generator, and (2) there are no quick fixes.

I'm in the business [The Elephant Walk restaurants in Greater Boston]. I'm feeling an increasing burden of guilt and responsibility, while simultaneously getting killed by rising rents, food costs, utility costs, labor costs and the new Massachusetts universal healthcare law cost consequences - and a lot of excellent competition to boot.

I have more questions than answers at this point on how we are going to afford to shrink our carbon footprint even as we deliver a dining experience that keeps our business sustainable...

Good for Ted Turner lifting a finger to get the attention of more of us in the restaurant business and to help us recognize and acknowledge our share of the responsibility for global custodianship. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:6/21/2008 07:59:00 AM Thanks for you comments, Bob. You're right, for the small restaurateur it's an expectionally delicate balance of being stewards to our in environment while sustaining the business. I'm glad we're thinking about it, realizing the challanges and figuring ways to solve them. ----- --------