So much has changed over the last 12 months. To cling to something familiar amidst the pandemic, Americans have relied on comfort carbs. From baking our own banana bread at home, to making cookies on Zoom to connect with co-workers, and even to a global shortage of Feta cheese due to a viral pasta dish; we are chowing down like never before. Although many of these pandemic plate trends have come and gone, one tried-and true treat has maintained their rightful place at the top of the list.

Pizza is so loved that Americans consume nearly 100 acres of it every day. That is just under 100 football fields of pie! So what in the world could possibly make this most adored of cuisines even better? The answer is a simple one—an emphasis on sustainability while simultaneously supporting local businesses!

To spice up your National Pizza Day, here are six pizza places that are eco-consciously serving exceptional slices across the United States:

The Star (Multiple Locations, CA) 

When it comes to sustainability, California’s The Star goes way above and beyond the traditional conventions of organic ingredients, conservation of water, and sustainable energy (they do all of that too). Their expanded vision focuses on “community support, employee well-being, sustainable farming practices, working with independent businesses, renewable energy and so much more.”

The Star walks the walk of ethical responsibility and works diligently to enhance rather than diminish their environment and community. This is evident in their sustainable footprint-reducing actions:

  • Installing low flow faucets
  • Utilizing compostable packaging
  • Purchasing locally to limit transportation emissions
  • Using environmentally responsible products for cleaning and maintenance

In addition to these measures, The Star is also REAL Certified. REAL Certified is a “nationally recognized trust-mark for restaurants and food service providers that are committed to promoting health and sustainability within the industry.” REAL Certification means that The Star is a stand out in their industry for their exceptional food practices.

The Star is currently providing take-out and local delivery services to ensure the safety of customers and employees.

Firecracker Pizza and Beer (St. Louis, MO)

Perfectly named for the personalities that run this joint, St. Louis’ new Firecracker Pizza is an explosion of all things flavor, brews, and attitude.

A part of St.Louis’ “Green Dining Alliance”, the Firecracker team has a robust recycling program, serves only draft beer (to eliminate can and bottle usage), composts their food scraps, and operates without a single straw in sight. With unique flavor combinations like mint chutney, Mexican street corn, and house-cured pastrami, there are several reasons why this ain’t your mama’s pizzeria! Firecracker opened in 2018 and has become the delicious representation of every walk of life that fills the streets of their neighborhood.

Firecracker Pizza and Beer was also a 2018 Rubicon’s Best Small Business in America finalist. Their commitment to sustainable sourcing, innovative ingredients, and passion for plastics make this St. Louis hotspot a can’t-miss in the Midwest.

Hotlips (Portland, OR) 

Pizza in Portland, Oregon, is less of a quick-bite solution for hunger and more of a way of life. So when your pizza is considered to be some of the best, you must be doing something right.

Meet Hotlips.

This family-owned business has been making Portlanders and pizza lovers happy since 1984. Their gourmet pizza has to be tasted to be believed, they make their own fresh fruit soda, and they work hard to be a sustainable and locally responsible business that improves and preserves the communities they serve.

Their six locations use as many local ingredients for their pies and homemade sodas as possible. When an ingredient can’t be sourced locally Hotlips gets creative (substituting locally sourced cherries for pineapples has been known to happen). This is only one of the ways they decrease transportation emissions.

Environmentally friendly and sustainable practices are also involved in Hotlips’ delivery methods. Pizza lovers can feel good about the carbon footprint they aren’t adding to when their pies arrive via bike or electric car.

So when it comes to Portland pizza, Hotlips smacks perfectly on sustainability.

Sol Pie Pizza (Canton, OH) 

It might have taken a “green audit” from the North Canton Chamber and Stark State Environmental Department of Ohio to put Sol Pie Pizza on the sustainable pizza path but it’s one they’ve been on ever since. This Ohio pizza favorite is now actively part of the solution and their efforts are commendable.

Here are some of the ways Sol Pie Pizza is making pizza, and the world, better for everyone:

  • They only use recyclable and/or compostable packaging
  • They recycle 80% of their in-store waste
  • All of their lighting is energy efficient
  • They limit their printed marketing items

In addition to their in-house sustainable efforts, Sol Pie Pizza is also creating a healthier community by working with local farmers, businesses, schools, and nonprofits.

They do this by sourcing ingredients locally while paying special attention to seasonal availability from farmers who engage in sustainable agriculture. They also purchase their animal products from farmers focused on sustainably and ethically raised animals.

Pompieri Pizza (Durham, NC) 

Some might argue that the secret to Pompieri Pizza’s perfect pie lies in their fish tanks, and they would be partially right. Durham, North Carolina, is lucky to have this pizza purveyor, not only for the great pizza they serve but also for their extensive sustainable efforts. Now back to the tanks.

Pompieri Pizza is making waves with their use of the worlds largest Aquaponics system which, according to The Aquaponic Source, is the “combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system.

The fish waste provides an organic food source for the plants, and the plants naturally filter the water for the fish.” So where does the pie come in?

While they say they might try some freshwater sardines someday, Pompieri uses this system to grow fresh basil and other pizza herbs. Picture an herb garden that is nourished and hydrated by water pumped into it from a fish tank below. The drainage from the garden goes back into the tank where this soil cleaned water keeps the fish happy!

This is in addition to their broad selection of locally sourced ingredients acquired through partnerships with other sustainably-minded local businesses.

Pizza Fusion (Boca Raton, FL)

Pizza Fusion has crossed all of the sustainable “t’s” and dotted all of the “pies”. This Boca Raton, Florida, gem operates on the belief that “social-responsibility is just as important as profitability. Where some businesses cut corners for their own benefit, Pizza Fusion goes the extra mile to do the best thing for everyone—the customer, the environment, the employee and the business owner.

From creation to delivery, these are just a few of Pizza Fusion’s sustainable practices:

  • Deliveries are made via company-owned hybrid vehicles
  • They offset 100% of their energy usage with the purchase of renewable wind energy certificates
  • They recycle pizza boxes but also give their customers discounts for returning pizza boxes to do the same
  • Only environmentally friendly cleaners are used to sanitize their stores
  • They serve their food in compostable “plastic-like” containers (100% corn starch material that decomposes in landfills in 50 days)
  • They use compostable spudware (100% potato utensils that biodegrade in 50 days)
  • They use 100% post-consumer toilet paper and paper towels

When it comes to their community efforts, Pizza Fusion really pays it forward. In and around their communities they donate to environmental causes, and prior to COVID-19 every third Thursday they hosted a free class to teach kids about the importance of recycling and organics.

Their sustainability doesn’t even stop there. Pizza Fusion builds its restaurants in compliance with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification standards set forth by the United States Green Building Council. These efforts include:

  • Cutting energy consumption with the use of CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lights) bulbs
  • Installing soybean oil seat cushions
  • Installing 100% recycled detergent bottle countertops
  • Recycling sink wastewater into toilets
  • Installing furniture made from reclaimed wood
  • Recycling glass bottles into flooring tiles
  • Energy Star Certified appliances
  • Recycled blue jean insulation

This extra attention to sustainability is what truly makes Pizza Fusion a slice above the rest.

Find out more how to make your restaurant more sustainable, or to learn more about Rubicon’s work transforming the entire category of waste and recycling, be sure to download our inaugural Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report.

Editor’s Note: References made to businesses/companies in this post are not meant to convey affiliation with or endorsement of Rubicon by those companies in any way.

Amy Koonin Taylor is Marketing Content and Media Manager at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.