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Image: person at dinner

Re-Imagining Restaurants: Zero Waste and Endless Good! 

Around the world, roughly 33% of the food produced for human consumption (~1.3 billion tons) gets lost or wasted every year. 1 But there is a restaurant showing us how the food industry can impact this in a big way with their awesome, innovative zero-waste practices!

Silo, a restaurant now located in London, England, runs on ancient methods that are novel to our modern world. While trash bins in restaurants around the globe are filling to the brim, the bins in this restaurant sit empty. Actually, they don’t even exist! This first-of-its-kind restaurant has created a model for the food industry that brings us back to basics—producing not a single scrap of food waste.

This story, the beginning of a critical shift in food thinking, helps us consider what we can all make possible in our own arenas. All we need is just a little imagination.

Image: person at dinner
Source: Pixabay

“There are so many problems in the world; there is so much to fix. Go out, use your creativity, and you commit yourself, then you can fix any problem. I was just a dyslexic school dropout and I decided to apply what skills I had in an area that was begging for change.”

—Douglas McMaster, founder of Silo

Silo is leading us back to a food system that works in tandem with the world; one that fills our bellies, not the landfill. And shows us how, with just a little imagination, we can each turn even the most ingrained industries into ones that benefit all of us.

Statistics show that every year, your average restaurant will produce over 100,000 pounds of food waste. 2 In fact, there’s so much food waste around the globe that consumers in rich countries waste as much food as sub-Saharan Africa produces! 3 But Silo is on a remarkable mission to innovate in this broken system: reducing the amount of waste they produce to zero, even using mycelium to grow their lampshades! 4

In this short film from the series ENGLAND Your ENGLAND, we meet the person who launched this wave of innovation, Chef Douglas McMaster, as he brings us through the first five years of Silo, and into the future of food.


ENGLAND Your ENGLAND is a series of films directed by Mark Hopkins that capture experiences of living in modern-day Britain.

“In an era of widespread social unrest, the award-winning short film series [ENGLAND Your ENGLAND] counteracts the trend, showcasing the personal stories of a group of outsiders and underdogs who are going against the grain, quietly forging their own unique way of life amidst the mainstream culture they reject.” 6

You can find these stories on England Your England’s Vimeo channel or website. And stay up to date with their work over on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

Cultivating respect for the ingredients, those who provide them, and the environment that grows them.

Every ingredient that Silo uses is grown a few miles away, delivered in reusable bins, and then scraps are thrown in their compost to create a closed food loop. In this system, every step is having a positive impact: supporting local farmers, delivering delicious food, and adding absolutely nothing to our overpopulated landfills. Actually, they’re even reducing what ends up there further by using plates made from plastic bags and tables created out of reconstituted food packaging! 7

But while Silo is an innovator in today’s system, what they’re doing isn’t entirely new.

Even look back just a century and, while you may not find mushroom lampshades, you’ll see it was normal for restaurants to trade directly with farmers, mill their own flour, and churn their own butter. It’s only natural. Luckily, Silo has done the work to help us get back to a system that benefits everyone involved.

Find more about Silo’s mission and story over on their website! You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to stay up to date with all of the awesome work they’re doing.

Are you involved in the food industry? Or are you interested in seeing how to create a more sustainable system? They have a book! Silo: The Zero Waste Blueprint by Douglas McMaster gives us all a roadmap to the future of food.

Reduce a bit of waste in your own life!

There’s a lot of pressure these days to reduce our footprint… but it’s not that easy. Or is it? With so many minds on the problem, innovative solutions to our waste problems are popping up all over the place. The best part? No one expects you to be perfect at every one of them; reducing our waste in one area can make a big difference. Just start simple!

This article from TIME has some really useful tips on how we can get a handle on our own food waste. Personally, this has always been something I’ve had a hard time controlling. Either I get over-excited at the grocery store and overshop, forget that something exists in my cupboard or fridge, or don’t get to my fruit or veggies in time. So you can bet your butt that I’m taking notes from their list of tips. This piece from Greatist also has some great advice if you’d like more!

And if you’re interested in seeing ways to reduce waste of all kinds, check out these following articles!

Getting Energy from our Food Scraps!

This innovation is giving our table scraps value! Impact Bioenergy has created a zero waste system to turn our food scraps into energy and nutrient-rich biofuels, all with the help of microbes.

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Artificial Intelligence Meets Black Soldier Flies and Farming!

When it comes to saving the resources of our planet, we are all hoping for the next big idea to come along. Well, this one involves a very tiny creature that brings an amazing resume to the task. Let’s meet them!

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Our Plastic Waste Problem: It’s Not About Perfection

We all know that plastic waste is a huge problem, but what are we supposed to do about it? Turns out there’s a lot we can do with just a few little changes!

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
What if We Turned Plastic Waste into a Valuable Currency?

The Plastic Bank is turning plastic into money for people around the globe. This idea has the power to end poverty while saving our oceans!

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein 

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  1. “Key Facts on Food Loss and Waste You Should Know!” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2015, www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/. Accessed 14 Jan. 2020.
  2. “Waste Education Page | Green Restaurant.” Green Restaurant, 2017, www.dinegreen.com/waste. Accessed 14 Jan. 2020.
  3. “Key Facts on Food Loss and Waste You Should Know!” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2015, www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/. Accessed 14 Jan. 2020.
  4. “Story.” Silolondon.Com, Silo, silolondon.com/story/. Accessed 14 Jan. 2020.
  5. ENGLAND Your ENGLAND. “A Failure of the Imagination.” Vimeo, Matt Hopkins, 26 Nov. 2019, vimeo.com/375646424. Accessed 14 Jan. 2020.
  6. England Your England – About. Vimeo, 2019, vimeo.com/englandyourengland/about.
  7. “Story.” Silolondon.Com, Silo, silolondon.com/story/. Accessed 14 Jan. 2020.
Published: January 19, 2020

Image: Samantha Burns

Sam Burns

Former Editor-In-Chief

Sam wrote and edited hundreds of articles during her time on the Goodness Exchange team from 2016-2021. She wrote about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the Goodness Exchange, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.

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