NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Next time you run into the Prestige Diner to pick up your to-go order, you might notice that your items are in a paper bag. "Huh, that's new," you think. You see the food box inside is made of a recyclable material instead of styrofoam, and the straws are paper. To do their part, Prestige Diner has been rethinking how they do business, by reducing their carbon footprint in a way that not only reduced wastes and preserves resources but also ensures the quality of food it's customers are served.These seemingly small changes certainly save the turtles that we keep hearing about, but also positively impact the entire environment.

When it comes to thinking globally and acting locally, Prestige DIner has always been a New Providence pioneer. Although Prestige has been in town for over 50 years, Jimmy and Harry Vardas have consistently looked for ways to impact positive change both in their diner and out in the community. One of the easiest ways to reduce a business carbon footprint is to have your ingredients sourced locally, so the deliveries only travel a short distance. With supporting local businesses in mind, they've partnered with other local businesses to feature menu items that are locally sourced and are often organic.

"We take 'shopping locally' to heart and find the best local purveyors of their kind to source our menu. John's Meats in Scotch Plains has burgers that our out of this world. Bovella's Bakery, who supplies our baked goods, was just voted Best Bakery in Union County. We serve New Providence's own Zita's Homemade Ice Cream for our shakes and sundaes and DefCon Sauces for our wings. Award-winning Kane beers are always on tap here, and so is Untied Brewing Co. and Carton. We have such great options in New Jersey, shopping locally is an easy choice, and one we are committed to," says Harry Vardas.  

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Prestige's commitment to "doing good for the environment" goes beyond just their menu choices. Prestige has actively been switching from diner standards like rectangular sugar packets to ecoStick, which uses less packaging than traditional sweeteners, thus reducing carbon footprint by over 47%*. Why ecoStick? They're GMO-free and they support America's National Parks. They changed from regular Heinz ketchup to Heinz's Simple brand, which only contains 5 basic ingredients, none of which are GMO ingredients or high-fructose corn syrup. They also feature Stubborn soda, a PepsiCo product, made with no artificial sweeteners, no artificial colors, and no high fructose corn syrup, uses natural flavors and Fair Trade Certified cane sugar. 

Although some businesses start initiatives to become a more environmentally conscious business, Prestige's comprehensive approach has touched on all aspects of their operations. Their restrooms features Dyson hand dryers, which produce up to 80% less CO₂ than other hand dryers and save up to 98% in paper towel usage. They replaced all to-go styrofoam containers, replacing them with biodegradable versions, and switched to the ubiquitous paper straw. 

Prestige's environmental policy follows through on this approach where customers can't see too. For example, a kitchen equipment upgrade that took place over the summer, includes items that consume 27% less energy and about 18% less water. "We are working with energy suppliers in a restaurant-wide energy audit, seeking input on more energy-efficient fixtures and equipment. Additionally, they have chosen new suppliers that are CO2 neutral, use hybrid-electric trucks and care about the environment as much as we do," says Jimmy Vardas. "We are serious about 'thinking locally' and strive for our actions to reflect this goal."