You don't have to be a genius... know that everything we buy has an environmental cost. I'm learning a lot more about how engineers are determining what the true costs are by reading Daniel Goleman's new book, Ecological Intelligence: how knowing the hidden impacts of what we buy can change everything.

According to Goleman, scientists are working up Life Cycle Assessments (LCA's) for all kinds of products, from glass to plastics to food items, so that customers will have the information they need in order to make informed buying decisions. Goleman believes that when consumers can compare environmental impacts between items, they'll go with what is the least costly.To the environment, that is. It'll be sort of like the way that nutritional information on food packages helps people compare calories and the nutritional components of food.

I was telling you the other day that Walmart is about to get such an effort underway with its suppliers. Of course, some folks are saying that Walmart should not be the one to grab this bull by the horns, given its record of relentless pursuit of the lowest prices without regard to the environment or to the health and safety of their employees or suppliers. Many of Walmart's critics believe that the effort should be being assumed by the federal government instead. While I understand the argument for federal oversight, it does seem that Walmart has held on to more of our money than the federal government has, which would put them in a better position, albeit a potentially biased one, to fund such an initiative.

Anyway, back to the genius at hand. Einstein's on Juniper has some relatively earth-friendly practices going for them. About a year ago, they switched to compostable take-out containers, a move that results in a large savings to the planet's environment. I'm not sure how much exactly, because there hasn't been a LCA workup on this as far as I know. However, anything that lessens the incidence of Styrofoam chemicals leaching into the ground and waterways is a very good thing.

Additionally, Einstein's is responding to the growing demand for fresh and local food. Every weekend, they've been sending some of their people to the Piedmont Park Green Market just down the street, where they'll purchase locally grown food for a Saturday night locavore special.

Dayle and Karen and I were there on Friday night, so unfortunately missed the special although we'll try to make it back on a Saturday night before too long to give it a taste. Adam, our friendly and attentive server, suggested we start with the hummus trio appetizer and it was quite good. The flatbread veggie sandwich I selected for dinner was truly superior. Dayle and Karen likewise enjoyed their fish and salad, but the Georgia Peach Poundcake we shared for dessert was far and away the star of the show. If you've ever done that thing where you're really full but just cannot stop eating, you have an idea of what the poundcake is like.  

Logan, the manager on duty that night, was happy to talk with us about Einstein's green practices. He told us that the restaurant is part of the Metrotainment Café group, so actions around sustainability issues are decided at a central office and instituted group-wide. Einstein's can't just decide tomorrow to start a composting program. However, Logan gave me contact information for Metrotainment and I will follow up with them to let them know their customers care about the LCA of their restaurants' operations.

And you know, I think they'll give a darn because you can see by clicking here how many local charities they support. They're obviously people who care about the community, AKA, the environment.  

Einstein's on Urbanspoon


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