As the human population continues to experience exponential growth, currently exceeding 7 billion people, our unsustainable consumption and waste threaten the stability of our ecological life support system. Scientists believe that humans are approaching or have already exceeded the Earth’s carrying capacity, defined as the maximum population that can be supported without lasting detrimental effects to ecosystems.
Seven years after the Green Restaurant Association was founded, at the 1997 Kyoto Climate Summit, The Union of Concerned Scientists set forth a Call for Action, which was signed by more than 1,500 scientists from 63 countries, including 110 Nobel laureates and 60 US National Medal of Science winners in an appeal to reason:
“Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms.”
Two decades later, the scienctific concessus is even more convincing, and the ecological symptoms of the status quo are showing themselves in our oceans, climate, air, and rates of extinction.
Fortunately, many of the solutions to these challenges are available today. As members of the global economy, we can turn the tide and shift our course toward one of balance. The Green Restaurant Association (GRA) is working to create an environmentally sustainable restaurant industry, calling attention to the fact that this sector accounts for 10% to 12% of the American economy. With a creative blend of consulting, education, marketing, research, and consumer organizing, the GRA helps restaurants and their customers understand the environmental challenges facing the restaurant industry, and empowers them with clear solutions to combat these environmental issues. See the GRA’s standards
Americans spend about half of their food budget on food consumed away from home, dining at over 1 million restaurants. Tapping into the consumer need and want to eat out offers a great opportunity to reduce the restaurant industry’s ecological footprint and affect change. The 1,500 scientists who signed the Call for Action at the Kyoto Summit summed it up: “There is only one responsible choice -- to act now.”