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Pita Pit: first green restaurant 

Diners who stop in for a bite to eat at the downtown location of Pita Pit can enjoy their meal knowing that the restaurant operates with an Earth-friendly mentality. That's because it recently became the first - and only - green certified restaurant in the entire city of Indianapolis.

The certification was awarded on March 1 by the Green Restaurant Alliance (GRA) one year after Pita Pit opened on Pennsylvania Street. The GRA is an organization trusted by food businesses and restaurants across the country. They guided Pita Pit throughout the certification process to ensure that their strict standards were met.

In some ways, it's easy for restaurants to make ecological changes. However, the process is often difficult and costly without in-depth research or a lot of background knowledge on the topic. That's where organizations like the GRA step in.

"Shortly after opening the store, I realized how much waste we had," says Travis Sealls, co-owner and operator of Pita Pit.

Being environmentally conscious, Sealls felt guilty about the excess waste and decided to do something about it.

"We started doing things on our own to decrease our carbon footprint," he explains. "We soon realized, though, that it may be a good idea to consult with GRA in order to maximize our efforts."

Pita Pit began the transition from wasteful to environmentally savvy in September of 2009. Six months later, the GRA officially dubbed them certified.

"It definitely was a very long and somewhat difficult process for us," explains Sealls. "But that makes us feel even better about it. We had to show that we were fully committed to becoming green."

In addition to switching out all their light bulbs for energy-efficient lighting, Pita Pit has implemented a full-scale recycling program, utilizes low-flow faucets to reduce water use, and uses cups, napkins and utensils crafted out of biodegradable materials.

All these efforts, says Sealls, have made a noticeable difference.

"After a week I was blown away by the difference we were making," he says. "For example, we used to do four to five bags of trash every single day. Now we're down to half a bag to one bag per day."

Pita Pit hopes to make even more environmentally-friendly changes over the next few years. One item on their agenda includes implementing a composting program to help reduce food waste. The GRA plans to assist through that process and any other changes they hope to make.

"They have made great strides toward becoming more environmentally sustainable," says Michael Oshman, GRA's executive director. "We look forward to helping them make more changes in years to come."

As for the food, Pita Pit still serves up fresh and healthy options for diners searching for an alternative to greasy fast food. Some of their classic pita's include the Falafel pita with rolled chickpeas and spices ($5.99) and the Philly Steak stuffed with thinly sliced steak ($6.59).

Their extensive menu also allows customers to create their own pita's with whatever type of toppings, meats, veggies, cheeses and sauces they want.

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