Ocean action: Soerke Peters has taken a leading role in the greening of restaurants in the Monterey Bay region through his certified-green restaurant, Village Corner in Carmel, which also follows the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, and as president of the Monterey Bay Chefs and vice chair of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce, emphasizing sustainability in business. His former restaurant, Basil, was the first certified-green eatery in Carmel. Certification means the food is sourced sustainably and locally; that energy and water consumption is reduced; that waste is recycled or reused; and disposable containers and utensils are minimized, among other steps. "It's the right thing to do," says Soerke. "We live in a very green environment on the Peninsula, and it's important to me to take care of it. Sustainability is not just about what we do today, but about preserving the planet and our food for the days to come."
How the community benefits: Buying local supports local farmers and fishermen, strengthening the regional economy. On the environmental side, "Things like straws and plastic bags go into our storm drains and end up in the ocean," says Soerke, and certified-green restaurants minimize these effects. But there's another, less-heralded benefit for the local economy: "People think that going green costs money," says Soerke. "That's a misconception. Going green saves money by reducing waste, and brings in business. Studies say people would rather eat in a green restaurant. And it's the same with staff—waiters and cooks would rather work in a sustainable environment."
Oceans of inspiration: For Soerke, a native of Germany, sustainability has been a way of life. "I grew up on the ocean," he says. "I've always loved the ocean, and would go fishing when I was young. In Germany, even 35 years ago, they recycled bottles by color, saved food scraps and never wasted anything. These things may be new here, but it's old news where I come from. I've always been very active in the community when it comes to sustainability and doing the right things for the environment and the treatment of animals."