Eco-Eating: Vancouver’s Carbon Neutral Restaurant

Photo credit: Torontophotoassistant.com

Going carbon neutral was a big thing a few years ago, though it’s sadly slipped from the headlines of late.  Carbon neutrality means having no carbon footprint.  The idea is that through a combination of reducing your carbon output (by using renewable energy, recycling, etc) and purchasing carbon offsets (in essence, paying to have someone else “unpollute” the atmosphere through reforestation and clean energy projects), your net carbon emissions end up being zero.

All sorts of things can be certified as carbon neutral: housing developments, transit systems, businesses, even people.  It’s not easy to do and represents a pretty big commitment to the environment.  And now, one of Vancouver’s best restaurants has joined the club.

You might know Chambar as possibly the finest Belgian-French-Moroccan fusion restaurant that ever existed (at least if you’ve tried their braised lamb shank with honey and figs).  But the restaurant also has a serious green side.

Earlier this year, Chambar was certified as being 100-percent carbon neutral.  Now, it’s not clear if Chambar wins the title of Vancouver’s first carbon-neutral restaurant  (That prize may go to Rocky Mountain Flatbread or even another contender).  In any case, it wasn’t easy.  Here’s some of the lengths that Chambar has gone to:

  • By composting, they’ve reduced their garbage by 8,882 kilograms per year – the equivalent of 12.3 tonnes of carbon emissions.
  • They use paper products made from 100% post-consumer waste, with no chlorine or deinking of the recycled fibres, supplied by a local paper mill.
  • By installing hand dryers, they’ve kept 153,000 paper towels from ending up in the trash.
  • They use rigorously tested, biodegradable cleaning products, with no carcinogens, ozone-depleting compounds or even fragrances.
  • They purchased a whopping 80 tonnes of carbon offsets from Less Emissions, ranked number one by the David Suzuki Foundation in a 2009 report.  Funds go to support a biomass power plant in India that uses agricultural plant waste instead of coal to generate energy.

What makes this all the more impressive is that Chambar’s menu is really, really good, even by Vancouver’s high standards.  The restaurant recently won gold in the Best Other European category in the 2011 Vancouver Magazine restaurant awards.   Chef/owner Nico Schuermans was also awarded 2011 Chef of the Year.  As you might expect, the menu is focused on local, sustainable and organic ingredients from all around BC.  Whether you’re looking for peppercorn crusted bison, moules frites, Qualicum Beach scallops or venison carpaccio, they’ve got you covered.

Know of other carbon neutral restaurants in Vancouver?  Please comment below. 

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