What are Food Miles and How Do You Reduce a Restaurant's Carbon Footprint

Written by
February 22, 2024
5 min read

You’ve probably heard of food miles and a product’s carbon footprint. Both food miles and a restaurant's carbon footprint are useful measures when you're thinking about reducing your environmental impact. They may seem complex at first, but once you understand their meaning you will be able to begin to reduce your impact with ease. 

What are food miles?

Food miles are a measure of how far food has traveled before arriving at your plate. This includes the distance between the grower, the manufacturer, the distributor, the retailer, the restaurant. 

Food in the UK is estimated to travel over 30 billion kilometers by ship, train and road each year, which produces around 19 million tonnes of C0 annually which has a detrimental effect on our planet.  

The further that the food has to travel before it reaches a plate the more carbon emissions they release, meaning that they have a heavier carbon footprint. This is especially likely if the food has traveled by air, due to the high climate impact of planes. Transporting food by air emits 

  • c50 times as much greenhouse gasses as transporting the food by sea
  • c10 times more carbon emissions than road transport. 

Therefore, in order to help reduce carbon emissions and global warming we all need to plan to serve, and make food with less air miles. 

Here are some tips to reduce your restaurants food miles: 

  1. Buy and serve food that is grown and produced locally, such as from your local farmers market. You can find your local farmers market here
  2. Try growing your own fruit and veg. Allotments or veg patches all make a difference (and make a menu look really compelling) . 
  3. Change your way of travel. Try to cycle, walk, or take public transport so that you don't add to the food miles that have already materialized
  4. Go foraging. In the summer especially, a wide variety of herbs, mushrooms, fruit and veg. 
  5. Eat seasonally. This ensures you are eating food that is produced locally for your area rather than being flown in from abroad, such as eating raspberries in the summer.
  6. Try eco-friendly and low carbon footprint restaurants for inspiration. Here are 16 of the best eco friendly and sustainable restaurants in London;  https://foodism.co.uk/guides/london-sustainable-restaurants/ 

A restaurant's carbon footprint

Restaurants obviously have a carbon footprint, which is the total amount of greenhouse gasses emitted directly or indirectly through its activities.

 A restaurant's carbon footprint is made up of a number of factors:-

  • Size of restaurant 
  • Number of Staff
  • Heating and lighting
  • Plus the type of food served and how far it has traveled to get to the restaurant. 

Meat has a much higher carbon footprint than vegetables so vegan or vegetarian restaurants are automatically more environmentally friendly. 

Restaurants that grow their own organic produce such as Daylesford cafes where all their food comes straight from their farm to our forks, are similarly much more eco friendly than restaurants who buy from suppliers who do not have a commitment to sustainability.  

Daylesford organic, Pimlico Road in London 

At SKOOT we offer a solution to any restaurants who are looking to reduce their carbon. Our restaurant solution enables restaurants to automatically plant trees to offset purchases made in the restaurant. 

Choosing to eat at eco conscious and sustainable restaurants that are actively attempting to reduce their carbon footprint will help you be kinder to the planet. 

Food miles and a restaurant's carbon footprint are important considerations when it comes to eating without anxiety that you are damaging the environment. The environmental impact of our diets can be reduced by being conscious of your food miles and choosing to eat at sustainable restaurants.


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Written by
February 22, 2024
5 min read