Turner greens the restaurant biz

Media Mogul (and Mr. Jane Fonda) Ted Turner has set his sights on another lofty goal: greening the restaurant industry. Turner’s Montana Grill chain of 55 restaurants claims to be a 99% plastic-free establishment. According to an article in USA Today, it offers eco-friendly bags, boxes, utensils, fluorescent light bulbs, and even paper straws just like they had when Teddy was a little boy. The menus are made of 100% recycled paper and the cups are made of cornstarch, and on top of that, the chain’s website reveals the toilets are water efficient, and the soap is biodegradable Boraxo. They serve bison to try to bring back the bison by increasing demand. Personally I’ll pass on the bison, but overall, I’m impressed!

But that’s only the tip of the iceburg that Ted wants to protect from melting. He’s also assisting with funding for a green restaurant initiative called “Conserve: Solutions for Sustainability,” which the National Restaurant Association revealed Monday at its annual convention in Chicago. Read about some of their suggestions to restaurateurs here.

If it takes hold, this could be big. According to the USA Today article, “Restaurants are the retail world's largest energy user. They use almost five times more energy per square foot than any other type of commercial building, says Pacific Gas & Electric's Food Service Technology Center (FSTC).” They also produce more waste than almost any other industry.

Ted has recently spoken out against global warming and the food crisis by calling for a population curb, claiming humans will have to turn to food riots and even cannibalism if the population doesn’t stop its current rate of expansion. In an appearance on CNBC, he blamed overpopulation for “global climate change and the over-fishing of the oceans.”

Turner is a man of contradictions: a billionaire Prius driver who, yes, owns a private plane. (How about funding an initiative to green private planes, Moneybags?) He also picks up litter on the street. “I don’t like trash near my restaurant. I walk around constantly and pick up trash. I pick up garbage in New York City -- particularly if someone's looking. Then they say, ‘If Ted Turner can do it, so can I!’”

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