By Laura Kiniry

More and more restaurants worldwide are looking for new ways to lessen their impact on climate change and increase their sustainability practices. They’re ditching single-use plastics, for example, taking a sleek secondhand approach to decor, and only working with local suppliers. Some are going even further, aiming to eliminate refuse entirely to earn the designation “zero-waste.” For travelers who want to be more sustainable on future getaways – especially as they explore with more purpose in a post-coronavirus world – choosing restaurants that are consciously making a difference is an easy (and delicious) start. From Brooklyn to Bali, here are four zero-waste restaurants to add to your list.

The bar at Rhodora in Brooklyn
Rhodora’s cozy bar. (Liz Clayman)

Rhodora Wine Bar – Brooklyn
From its warm and cozy (and carbon-neutral) spot in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood, Rhodora serves a selection of tapas-inspired dishes and natural wines from small-scale, like-minded producers. Guests dine on (recyclable) tinned conservas of smoked trout fillets and razor clams in brine, local cheeses, and entrees such as eggplant lasagna – any leftover food scraps go directly into the restaurant’s commercial-grade composter. There’s no actual chef here; instead, staff play a bevy of roles, simultaneously waiting tables, working the back-of-the-house, and acting as onsite sommeliers. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Rhodora has turned its space into a neighborhood provisions shop, and is curating weekly CSA boxes and wines for local customers.

Nolla, a zero-waste restaurant in Helsinki, Finland.
Nolla’s Scandinavian-chic dining room and (right) a tomato and raspberry dish. (Nikola Tomevski)

Nolla – Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki’s Nolla (which means “zero” in Finnish) fully embraces the city’s penchant for innovation with its zero-waste ethos. Located in the Design District, Nolla highlights Finnish cuisine made with in-season organic ingredients: croquetas, oyster mushroom nuggets, and pike perch dressed in a sweet paprika beurre blanc sauce show up on the four-course tasting menu with optional (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) drink pairings. Diners drink out of refashioned and recycled wine bottles, and any food left on their plates is composted in-house to become farm or garden fertilizer. Not in the mood for a multicourse meal? Nolla also has its own onsite microbrewery, and walk-ins are welcome.

Silo – London
A zero-waste pioneer, Silo first opened in Brighton, England, in 2014, but has since relocated to London’s Hackney Wick neighborhood, where it continues to find new and innovative ways to promote sustainability. Silo mills its own flour in-house for bread (which it serves alongside hand-churned butter), brews its own beer; and follows the nose-to-tail philosophy of utilizing every part of an animal intended for cooking. Meals are served on plates produced from recycled plastic bags, the bar is wrapped in repurposed leather, and the lounge is filled with furnishings made out of mycelium (a biodegradable fungal material). Housed in a former industrial space, the restaurant is also known for its six-course, nutrient-minded tasting menu, which includes items such as Jerusalem artichokes served with brown butter and tamari, and braised Friesian dairy cow.

Ijen restaurant in Bali
Ijen’s open-air dining room. (Desa Potato Head)

Ijen – Bali
Ijen is Indonesia’s first zero-waste restaurant, specializing in local, caught-daily fish such as barramundi and king prawn – they’re cooked over an open fire and served family-style with roasted cauliflower, marble coin potatoes, and barbecued corn. Ijen has its own composting site for food remnants, and guests get comfy on furnishings that are padded with recycled motorcycle-seat foam. Even the floor is repurposed, made from a mix of discarded cement, broken glass, and plates. Bonus: The easy access to Seminyak beach from the open-air space is just as satisfying as the food.

Top Photo: Rhodora/Liz Clayman

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