Regular readers of this blog will know that here at the Green House, Bournemouth’s most environmentally-friendly boutique hotel, we take sustainability every bit as seriously as we do luxury. And nowhere is this more true than in our award-winning restaurant, Arbor, one of Bournemouth’s newest 2 AA-rosette eateries and winner of a Gold Dorset Tourism Award.
So it’s a really big deal for us to have been awarded for the fourth year in a row the maximum 3-star rating by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. These SRA stars, which the Sunday Times called “the Michelin Stars of Sustainability”, are available to any business serving food anywhere on the planet. Around 4500 sites in the UK currently have 1-3 stars. Arbor is one of 102 to have been awarded the full three.
Not only that, but this year we have been shortlisted for an SRA award, to be presented on 23 February, in the ‘Environment’ category, which recognises restaurants’ eco-friendly practices such as water-saving, waste management and energy efficiency. We were shortlisted after achieving an incredible 99% in this category in our 2014 assessment – up from 75% in 2013 – thanks to our ‘excellent’, ‘unique’ and ‘innovative’ solutions.
We also saw a big increase in our overall score, achieving 90% in 2015, up from 83% (“an exceptional achievement”, according to the SRA) which puts us in the top 3% of its members.
So why do we care so much about all this, you might ask. After all, it’s not as if many diners check a restaurant’s SRA rating before they choose where to have dinner. Well, maybe not…yet.
But legendary chef and SRA President Raymond Blanc says this is changing. He believes, like us, that we’re “at a crossroads, on the verge of something genuinely magnificent.” Within the great British restaurant-going public is a growing movement of people who really care – “about how a restaurant sources ingredients, how it treats its customers, staff and local community, and how it meets its environmental responsibilities.”
That’s why the SRA was founded five years ago by a group of high-profile foodies including Mark Sainsbury, founder of Moro and the Zetter Hotel, and Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of healthy fast food chain Leon. They wanted to provide diners with a simple way of choosing places to eat that matched their food values.
Now the media is jumping on board. The Independent said it decided to back this year’s SRA awards for the first time “because provenance of food and the ethics of restaurants are of increasing importance to customers.”
We couldn’t agree more. Our local and seasonal sourcing of ingredients increased by 17% in 2014 giving us a massive score of 94% in this area; our score for Treating People Fairly increased by 19%; while we scored 99% for Community Engagement, thanks to our work linking with local organisations and educating the public in sustainable food.
So why do we go to all this effort? Well, we’re with Raymond. “I may be an optimist,” says Mr Blanc, “but I really believe that it is a changing world. And, tomorrow, each of us will make more responsible choices and understand [that] food and the production of food touches every part of our lives.”
The fourth SRA awards – the biggest yet – will be held on Monday 23 February at Oval Space, one of London’s most innovative and green event spaces, in Bethnal Green, in front of 250 guests.
To book a table at Arbor, our three-star restaurant, call 01202 498900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.