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We may not want to believe that a heap of pancakes can be anything but heavenly, but the sad reality is that restaurants can be some of the worst environmental offenders. From the miles driven to source ingredients to all that packaging to crazy amounts of food waste (sometimes you just don’t have room for that last half pancake), going out to eat isn’t always earth friendly. That’s why Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, the 16-year-old chain that was born in Denver and has since taken the brunch world by storm nationwide, is making sure they’re a force for good when it comes to protecting the planet.
We talked with Snooze’s chief marketing officer, Andrew Jaffe, about what the breakfast chain is doing to reduce their environmental impact—all while maintaining the mile-high brunch standards that inspire those hours-long waits.
Diverting food waste
“Food waste is probably one of the single biggest issues that restaurants contribute to,” Jaffe says. Besides wasting all the water and other resources it took to grow and transport the food, when our leftovers go to the landfill, they produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Snooze’s goal is to be a zero-waste business, which is why they compost and recycle at each and every restaurant. Since 2014, the restaurants have diverted more than 10 million pounds of materials from landfills through trash diversion programs.
Prior to 2020, takeout breakfast wasn’t a large part of Snooze’s business. “Pre-pandemic it was two to three percent, and now it’s upwards of 16 percent of our business today,” Jaffe says. “So it’s about being mindful of the types of materials out there and available to restaurants.” When you order your Bella! Bella! Benny (an Italian-inspired Benedict with prosciutto and poached eggs on toasted ciabatta, topped with balsamic glaze and arugula) to-go, it’ll come in a sustainable biodegradable container.
A good chunk of that post-pandemic to-go business is via delivery, which means more cars on the road releasing harmful emissions. To offset the carbon from all that delivery driving, Snooze plants a tree for every employee and supports a regenerative grasslands project in southeastern Colorado. “Trees take carbon out of the air,” Jaffe says. “One of the biggest issues in the world is it’s getting hotter. More carbon is creating crazy temperatures. By planting trees, like the grasslands project, it takes the bad carbon out of the air, pulls it into the trees, and puts it into the ground.” Last year alone, via the southeastern Colorado project in partnership with Native Energy, Snooze was able to remove 1,177 metric tons of carbon in the air, or the equivalent of three million miles not driven.
Snooze wants its partners—the syrup, egg, and produce suppliers they rely upon—to be similarly planet-friendly. Ninety-five percent of the menu is “Snooze-approved,” meaning that the suppliers have passed a set of standards that range from animal welfare to social responsibility. For example, Snooze works with farmers and ranchers who don’t confine their animals or give them unnecessary antibiotics or added hormones. “When we think about different partners we’re partnering with, they have to go through a rigorous questionnaire. What are they doing for communities? What are they doing to be stewards of the environment? We see it as this virtuous cycle—trying to do our part, but also working with partners who are doing their part,” Jaffe says.