Happy Stan’s Eco Tips for Dining Out
Dining out can be a pretty wasteful activity, depending on where you go and the choices you make. Here are a few ideas to make dining out a pleasure for you and the environment.
We’re not going to eradicate take-out waste completely, but you can make a dent by bringing your own containers. Remember a few years ago, when very few people actually brought their own recyclable bags to the grocery store? Now it’s the norm. What if the new norm was to bring your own takeout container to a restaurant? You’d be cutting down on your waste, and wouldn’t have to feel guilty for leaving the food you paid for on the table, just to be thrown out.
Or maybe you could focus on not having any leftovers to begin with. Portion sizes have grown between 25% and 60% in the past twenty years, and people are eating more than ever, contributing to obesity rates. This is in part because consumers want to get more for their money, so restaurants are offering “value meals.” Here’s an idea: how about less food for less money? Try ordering off of the starter menu rather than the entrees, split your entree with your fellow diner, or ask if you can order a half size. Many restaurants will do this, even if they don’t advertise it.
How you get there is just as important. Are you taking your car and meeting a fellow driver? Why not choose a place that you can walk or ride your bike to? You’ll save money and get a workout in, leaving you feeling guilt-free about ordering dessert. If driving is necessary, carpool or choose a nearby restaurant to save on gas and emissions.
Think about what you really need to enjoy your meal. Does the bread basket get left untouched? Ask the server not to bring it and save everyone the time. Once an item hits your table, it will be washed or thrown away, whether it’s been used or not. Think twice about asking for extra napkins or plates, thereby reducing trash and excessive water consumption.
Seek out restaurants that have a reputation for being green. This comes in many forms, whether it be only serving sustainable seafood, local produce and meats, or only using fabric napkins and tablecloths. A lot of restaurants are now waiting to bring you only the cutlery and glasses you need, based on your order, to help them cut down on water usage. Green Table Network is a great source for locating restaurants that have made the commitment to improve their environmental performance while serving the best quality, tastiest food imaginable.
This doesn’t just mean meals, either. Bring your reusable mug on your daily coffee run, and at most places, it will even save you a bit of money. Happy Stan’s can recycle most plastics and metals, so you don’t have to make more trash.
What this all comes down to is consuming less. Monitor your consumption of food, materials, water and energy when it comes to dining out, and we’ll all be much better off.