Including the calorie count for a meal is common for many restaurants as consumers seek transparency and become more health-conscious. One restaurant brand is now taking its quest for clarity a step further by including carbon labels.
Just Salad is adding carbon labeling to its menu as a new, core pillar for its sustainability strategy. Next to the calorie count on each menu item will now be a carbon label with the estimated CO2 emissions created by the food production for that item. Food production currently accounts for 26% of global carbon emissions, which many customers are not aware of. Just Salad announced the sustainable initiative in honor of World Environment Day on June 5 with plans to roll out labeling by September.
Just Salad is the first restaurant chain in the United States to include CO2 emissions on its menu. The brand released a 20-second ad on social media to announce the new push, encouraging customers to “eat more plant-based foods to fight climate change”. It also released a series of images on Instagram, showing menu items with their respective carbon labels, to promote the initiative before it formally launches. Leveraging varied content for different social media platforms could help Just Salad resonate with consumers on each channel, according to a Gartner report. Additionally, with social media usage rising during the Coronavirus pandemic and protests, announcing its Earth-friendly initiative could help the restaurant build anticipation with returning and new customers.
Just Salad’s sustainable initiative is part of its larger focus on “climatarianism”—or a way of eating that takes planetary health into account. The brand’s carbon labels could make customers more aware of what they’re eating and exhibit the effects food has beyond nutritional value in an accessible way. The menu labels are the latest move by Just Salad towards environmental awareness, as the brand has a history of sustainability efforts. The brand’s “Green Standard” initiative, for example, includes being waste-free by 2022, installing composting programs at all of its NYC locations, and diverting 100,000 pounds of single-use plastic annually. Just Salad has found success diverting plastic through its award-winning Reusable Bowl Program, where customers can purchase a reusable bowl for $1 and receive free toppings anytime they bring it into the restaurant.
Just Salad is staying true to its sustainability-focused identity with the introduction of carbon labeled menus. As the first U.S. restaurant chain to use carbon labels, Just Salad could inspire other big brands to become more sustainable and tap into health and environmentally-conscious consumers.