How Just Salad altered its menu to help solve climate crisis

A large part of the initiative was making carbon emissions tangible to consumers.

How Just Salad altered its menu to help solve climate crisis

Campaign: Climatarian Menu
Company: Just Salad
Duration: September 17, 2020

Just Salad patrons might have noticed a new addition to the restaurant’s menu last month. The chain introduced carbon footprint labels, listing the carbon emissions required to make each item next to the price and calorie content. 


Just Salad has always had a commitment to sustainability, said CMO Andy Rooks. But it wasn’t until the end of 2019 that the company began to seriously consider adding carbon emission labels to its menu. 

“The idea came out of a sense of urgency about the climate crisis,” said chief sustainability officer Sandra Noonan. “Twenty-six percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are created by the food system. We’ve done a lot around waste reduction. But on food and climate, we needed a bolder vision.”

A large part of the initiative was making carbon emissions tangible to consumers.

“This was a great way to nudge them in that direction,” Rooks said. 


Starting in December 2019, Just Salad began creating a methodology to determine each menu item’s carbon footprint. It also developed a “Climatarian Menu,” which involved a curated list of seven items that require low carbon emissions.  

There were some surprises. Dairy’s sizable contribution to a menu item’s carbon footprint—highlighted by the difference between a salad’s pre versus post-dairy dressing emissions—caught Noonan off guard, for example. In response, Just Salad is making an effort to source plant-based proteins and cheeses. 

Rooks joined the company in August 2020, and quickly got to work on the Climatarian campaign. Launched on September 17 in honor of Climate Week, for one day prices on the seven-item menu were directly tied to each salad’s carbon footprint. Carbon labeling was added to all of the fast-casual brand’s menu items.

An often overlooked metric, “price is an important signal to consumers,” Rooks said. “Let’s use it as a tool to help consumers understand this metric a little better. 

Prior to launch, Just Salad pitched the campaign to media outlets, and ran an out-of-home campaign on New York City taxis, as well as in its store windows.


The week of September 21, Just Salad saw a 26% increase in sales. The carbon pricing was also successful in encouraging guests to try new menu items, with a 126% week-over-week increase in Just Salad’s Climatarian Menu options.

The campaign generated earned media placements in a range of outlets, including write-ups in Fast Casual, Cheddar, Forbes, QSR Magazine, Food & Wine, The Spoon and SB News.

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