Restaurant Tosses No Garbage in 2 Years

Chicago eatery runs on renewable energy, buys from local farms

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 25, 2014 6:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – Ever cringe when adding another bag of garbage to the world's waste? Then consider Justin Vrany, who says his Chicago restaurant has produced only 8 gallons of garbage in two years—the amount many restaurants toss in a single hour, Time reports. In fact, an artist picked up those 8 gallons for a sculpture, "so we are now official a zero-waste restaurant," he says in a new video. What's more, his establishment runs on renewable energy and gets produce and meat from local farms. Yet Vrany admits he wasn't always so green-conscious.

"I used to eat whatever and do whatever I wanted to do," he says. But he went back to school and learned "how to utilize" waste. "It just opened my mind." His inspiration for running Sandwich Me In also stems from his parents, who were once jobless and had to make a single turkey stretch over 3 or 4 days: "That kind of stuff sticks with you." Now he makes 98% of food in-house, including drinks, and sends fruit and vegetable compost to a Wisconsin farm to feed chickens that lay his restaurant's eggs, CBS Chicago reports. Still, he doesn't "want to be in the spotlight," he says. "I just want to change things, for my kids, for all of us."

A sampling of sandwiches from Sandwich Me In.
A sampling of sandwiches from Sandwich Me In.   (Sandwich Me In)
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A video about Justin Vrany's restaurant, Sandwich Me In.   (YouTube)

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