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5 Tips for Being Zero Waste While Dining Out

If you're a foodie, you probably love to eat out and try new restaurants week to week. As consumers, we a lot of power when it comes to deciding how to spend our money and choosing which restaurants to eat at. While many restaurants have a variety of sustainability initiatives, source their food locally, and serve reusable dish ware, the vast majority of restaurants supply food from hundreds of miles away, support factory farming and issue out plastic left and right. This is why it is especially important to take on the world as an informed consumer, and empower ourselves to choose restaurants that benefit people, planet and profit. Today we will be sharing with you our top tips for maintaining a zero waste mindset while dining out to help you on your informed consumer journey!


Communicate with Your Waiter

When ordering your food at a restaurant or even a more casual place that gives out to-go orders, communicate with the waiter or cashier about the plastic utensils and/or containers that you aren’t interested in receiving. When you communicate your needs, you set the stage for those needs being met.

Here's a good example: you are dining at a local organic eatery and the waiter asks your table, "Can I start you off with some drinks?" You reply, "Yes please! I will have a water. Can you please make sure all of our drinks do not come with any straws? Thank you." This simple request is easy enough for the waiter to honor, and on top of that, you are not going into your life story about why you love the planet and how you are working tirelessly to end plastic pollution. Sure, some occasions are more appropriate than others to share your "why," but we recommend waiting for the invitation. If you begin talking at someone, especially a stranger, this can be overwhelming and off-putting, and cause the receiver to have a negative opinion of people in the zero waste movement.  


Stay Away from To-Go Orders

It’s a rainy night and all you want to do is get some to-go food from your favorite local restaurant and bring it home to watch a movie. We have all been there and we all need those cozy nights sometimes, but remember that ordering to-go uses the most plastic and extraneous wrapping out of all the circumstances when eating out. An alternative to ordering to-go can be getting the food for “here” and then immediately transferring the food into your own containers (like your Zero Waste Kit!) to bring home and enjoy. Sure, this may require a little bit more work than you're use to, but once you adopt this new habit it will become second nature.


Use Technology to Your Advantage

When deciding where to eat, it is important to know how your food is being sourced and the ways in which the restaurant interacts with the environment. Do a quick Google search of "local food near me" or "organic food near me" and see what comes up! Aim to stay away from big chains that source food from all over the country. Instead, eat at smaller local restaurants that put effort into sourcing their food locally and sustainably. This also ensures more nutrient content and tastier ingredients for your meal! So it’s really in your and the environment’s best interest to eat at local restaurants. 

Extra tip: if you see areas that the restaurant can improve, leave a note with the manager. You'd be surprised how your opinion matters to them. If you are persistent, you will likely play a big role in inspiring the business to go green.


BYOC = Bring Your Own Container

No matter where you go, it can’t hurt to carry a reusable drinking bottle and tupperware container in case you have leftover food at the end of the meal. 


Thanks for joining us for another blog post on the {Zero} Waste Kit blog! We hope you feel inspired to bust out your Zero Waste Kit and begin dining out (and in) like a zero waste badass. If you have any questions or comments be sure to leave them below. Lastly, don’t forget to share this post with someone who would appreciate it! 

Say hello to our guest author, Jason! Jason is attending Emory University and is studying Business and Environmental Management. He loves skiing, the environment, and his foodie lifestyle, brought to life by his Instagram @eats.byjay.



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