Fast-casual chain Just Salad announced today that it will launch its “Climataraian” menu on September 17. The menu, available exclusively for orders placed via the chain’s app and website, will collect and feature those Just Salad items with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, according to an email sent to The Spoon. It will also display the carbon footprint and GHGs for each item.
The Climatarian menu will have two categories. The “Carbon Counter” is for customers wishing to have the bare minimum of carbon emissions associated with their meal. The “Conscientious Carnivore” is for “meat-eaters concerned about climate change.” The carbon footprint of each item in these categories will be displayed via the digital menu.
Just Salad hasn’t limited this carbon labeling to just menu items on the Climatarian menu. As the company announced back in June, all menu items on the Just Salad app and website will now come with a corresponding carbon footprint, which reflects total GHGs associated with the production of each item. The official rollout of these labels will happen alongside the launch of the Climatarian menu and apply even to “build your own” offerings.
These menu additions seem aimed at taking some of the guesswork out of eco-friendly eating for consumers. It remains to be seen if seeing “0.41 kg CO2e” and “0.77 kg CO2e” labels on a menu will actually motivate customers to choose the more climate-friendly option in the same way they might choose the lower-calorie option when faced with the numbers. Carbon labeling on restaurant menus is practically unheard of at this point, so it’s reasonable to expect an adoption curve.
Both the carbon labeling and the Climatarian menu offer us a glimpse of how versatile the digital menu of the future could be in terms of the information it provides. For example, carbon labels could automatically adjust in real time to include GHGs associated with last-mile delivery. And with more restaurant menus going digital and the sustainable restaurant discussion again becoming a priority, Just Salad likely won’t long be the only chain offering environmental info on its menu items.
This week’s news folds into Just Salad’s larger sustainability goals, which include ditching single-use plastics and sending zero waste to landfills by 2022.