Dining Out

Published on August 30th, 2019 | by Sarah Dephillips


4 Tips for Eating Out Zero Waste Style

Next to grocery shopping, eating out can be one of the biggest waste-makers in our day-to-day lives. People eat out for a number of reasons – convenience, to spend time with friends, to experience good food. But how do you make your eating out experiences just as convenient and enjoyable without the eco-guilt of all that waste? Here are some suggestions for eating out zero waste style!


1. Think about waste in your choice of restaurants


Sure, restaurants don’t (yet) post their waste footprint on their window menu like calories. But you can usually make some pretty safe general assumptions. Fast food and other takeout-style places will leave you with more waste than a sit down restaurant. If you know of a low-waste option, support them!


2. Dine in


In many restaurants and coffee shops, simply opting to dine in will get you reusable cups, plates, and flatware instead of disposable ones. Take a few extra minutes, sit down, and enjoy your meal at the restaurant.

3. BYO….


You can cut WAY down on waste by bringing your own things when you do get takeout, fast food, food truck, or farmer’s market style meals. Here are some handy things to bring along:


  • A reusable straw


  • Fork and spoon. These come in different forms, including bamboo, metal, and foldable. I find the foldable ones to be particularly great for leaving in my purse or glove box.


  • Cloth napkin. I simply wrap one around my foldable fork and spoon and tie with a string or rubber band. 


  • Container for leftovers. These also come in many forms. You can get ones specifically designed for zero-waste takeout purposes, or just bring any container from home.


  • Water bottle/cup. If the place doesn’t have reusable cups, they’ll usually let you fill your own, at least with water.


4. Just Say No


If and when you don’t have a reusable alternative on hand, there are usually items you don’t need. Sometimes it’s a straw or a plastic lid, sometimes it’s extra sauce packets, sometimes it’s a big hand full of napkins, sometimes it’s a plastic bag to carry your single item out the door. Try to do a quick evaluation of what you actually need with your meal and ask them not to include the rest. You may get some funny looks in some places, but most businesses will only get on the zero waste bandwagon as customers ask! Let them know what you’re doing. The more they hear it, the more they’ll pay attention.


Attribution-free image courtesy of Pixabay

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