America’s Greenest Restaurants of 2012

Eco-friendly eateries certified by the Green Restaurant Association
Bamboo Sushi in Portland, Ore.

With Earth Day approaching (it's April 22), restaurants nationwide are looking to tout their green initiatives. For diners looking to keep their environmental footprint in check while eating out, it can be tough to find the truly eco-friendly spots. The Green Restaurant Association (GRA) is there to help.

Click here for the America’s Greenest Restaurants of 2012 Slideshow

There are a wide array of tips and tactics available to restaurants that are trying to boost their environmental consciousness, and the GRA helps by creating easy and sustainable solutions for eateries. According to Michael Oshman, executive director of the GRA, "What works is creating a system that restaurants can go through and setting up a maintenance system for them to follow after certification."

Restaurants going through the certification process must be able to meet guidelines across specific environmental categories — including water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable food, energy, disposables, and chemical and pollution reduction.

The GRA has created a star system based on how many points each restaurant scores across various categories. Two-star certified restaurants must have a minimum of 100 points; restaurants need 175 points for three stars, and 300 for four stars. Currently, only six restaurants, including The Grey Plume in Omaha, Neb., and Kona Pub and Brewery in Hawaii, have received the coveted four-star certification. Restaurants from Mario Batali and Rick Bayless, as well as corporations including Hearst and Organic Valley, have received three stars from the GRA.

Diners can use the GRA site’s dining guide to search for green-certified restaurants by cuisine, location, and star rating; the guide even breaks down rating into points awarded for each category.
Click through to see a selection of the restaurants in the country that have earned Green Certification.
 

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