Sassafras is Three-Star Certified by the St. Louis Green Dining Alliance, a St. Louis Earth Day initiative committed to working with St. Louis restaurants to reduce their environmental impact.


Reduce – Reuse  Recycle

  • Food is served on durable, colorful plates with real silverware.
  • All food wastes from kitchen and dining areas are composted. Where single-use serving items are used, compostable products are provided.
  • Sassafras staff recycles all plastic, steel, aluminum, glass and plastic containers; all office paper and all cardboard.
  • Guests and staff can use recycling bins conveniently placed around the outdoor dining terrace and at the restaurant exit. Recycling bins are also prominently located throughout the Garden grounds.
  • All posters, table-tent inserts and office communications are printed on 100 percent post-consumer recycled content paper stock.
  • Menus are printed on paper containing 50 percent post-consumer recycled content paper and 50 percent sugar cane fiber, an agricultural by-product fiber.
  • Napkins are chlorine-free 100 percent post-consumer recycled content paper.
  • Hot cups are chlorine-free 10 percent post-consumer recycled content paper.
  • No Styrofoam products are used in the café, a commitment to reduce consumption of petroleum-based goods.
  • Take-out boxes are made from 100 percent recycled paper with 35 percent post-consumer content. When emptied, these boxes can be deposited in the Garden's recycling bins.
  • Sassafras patrons are encouraged to "think before you take" at self-service condiment and beverage lid stations.
  • Restroom janitorial paper products have 100 percent recycled content, with post-consumer content of products ranging from 40 to 75 percent.

Conserving Energy – Water – Other Materials

  • Recent kitchen upgrades of food preparation equipment have significantly reduced energy use along with cleaning and maintenance needs – all of which yield ongoing cost-savings.
  • Sassafras indoor dining areas are flooded with daylight through a large skylight in the center of the café and energy efficient tinted-glass windows along the entire south wall. Daylight also lights the ordering queue area through a window to the Garden Gate Shop, which has its own large skylight.
  • Accent lamps use energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Energy efficiency measures implemented in Garden buildings, including recent upgrades to the Ridgway Visitor Center where the Sassafras café is located, have decreased energy consumption by 22 percent, while overall building area has increased by 11 percent.
  • Sustainable materials were used in a renovation of the Sassafras dining room, including tabletops and wall dividers surfaced with a material made from post-consumer recycled paper and alfalfa, low-VOC paints and wall panels accented with rapidly renewable cork.
  • Hand washing sinks in the kitchen are fitted with aerators that mix air pressure with water, reducing water flow to 0.5 gallons per minute (gpm) while maintaining a standard feel of pressure.
  • The spray valve on the kitchen dishwashing machine is fitted with an aerator that reduces water consumption from a standard 5 gpm to 1.2 gpm without sacrificing pressure needed to efficiently pre-rinse dishes.

Safeguarding Health for People and Planet

  • Conversion of cooking equipment from fryers to grills has improved the menu with healthier items like personal pizzas, pasta dishes and grilled sandwiches – while eliminating use of cooking grease.
  • Sassafras serves only Fair Trade™ certified coffees and teas, ensuring that growers of these products are paid fair wages in healthy working conditions.
  • Hand soap used in the restroom is Green Seal™ certified, dispensed from auto-portion dispensers which minimize product waste and clean-up.
  • Restroom cleaning products are all Green Seal™ certified, to safeguard health of our employees and guests.
  • Regular and special menus feature local foods, including seasonal produce, breads, mushrooms and other items.

Growing Our Knowledge Base – Promoting Sustainability

  • "Plants – People – Planet" signs posted in the café and around the Ridgway Visitor Center offer points of awareness to visitors and staff about the Garden's commitments to sustainable practices and ways everyone can reduce our impact on Earth's resources.
  • In 2008 Sassafras became the first restaurant in Missouri to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association, a process that grounded our many current sustainability measures in ongoing awareness and commitments from the Garden and our distinguished service provider, Catering St. Louis.
  • Garden staff have shared resources gained through our Green Restaurant Certification process with local restaurants and other botanical gardens and universities. We are pleased to mentor others seeking this credential.