Catering to the Environment

October 01, 2016
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Dupree Catering
Courtesy of Dupree Catering

Have you ever been around for the cleanup after an event that used “disposables”?

The trash cans overflow with cups, plates, napkins and plastic dinnerware destined for the landfill. If you check out the dumpsters behind a busy restaurant on a Saturday night, you’ll probably find enough food scraps to feed an army of chickens — and yet it too is headed for the landfill. Dupree Catering + Events of Lexington, a two-star certified member of the Green Restaurant Association and the only green food service operation in Kentucky, is on a mission to change this.

Through partnerships with Seedleaf and Claiborne Farm, Dupree no longer needs a dumpster because these partners pick up their compost and use it for fertilizer and feed. All disposable serving ware is bio-degradable; bowls and flatware are made of bamboo.

But it’s not just about what goes on the table. A detailed energy analysis led to thermostats adjustments for maximum efficiency and replacement of insulation. Faucet aerators and low-flow sprayers were installed to conserve water and appliances replaced with Energy Star versions. Cleaning supplies were changed to low-environmental- impact products and Dupree encourages local providers to carry low-impact products. The firm also encourages employee car pools and a no-idling policy for company vans.

Employee participation is important. A point person is established for the business to educate and monitor compliance. Leah Endicott, Dupree’s marketing manager, says, “At Dupree it has become a culture within the company; kitchen and wait staff hold each other in check. It is just the way we do things now.” They also source as many local products as possible and use their property to grow many herbs/garnishes, and make every effort to source local beer and spirits.

Dupree offers attractive alternatives to standard plastic disposable dinnerware. Leah says, “We are committed to using only bamboo and other compostable dinnerware as a customer choice, either to supplement or in exchange for glassware and china.” The menu provides another opportunity. Dupree is offering more vegetarian options since meat production is one of the biggest contributors to a large carbon footprint.

According to Leah, certification is a costly and arduous process overseen by the Green Restaurant Association, the only certifier of green food service providers in the country. Founded in 1990, GRA has a mission of moving the restaurant industry toward ecological sustainability, working with over 850 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada and housing the world’s largest database of environmental solutions for the food service industry. For more information visit:,

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