Grubbin’ the Green Way: How to Dine Sustainably

January 27, 2011

If you are like me, you like to eat out…A LOT! More and more, I am seeing restaurants advertising local, sustainable food sources, and energy-saving practices on their menus. This got me thinking….how do you dine sustainably?

Below are just a few steps to pique your interest in eating environmentally.

1. An important first step in eating out responsibly is choosing a green restaurant.

The Green Restaurant Association is a great start! Through their website, you can locate local eateries that meet green certification standards. Over 300 restaurants in 30 states have met minimum standards in the following areas:

  • Water Efficiency
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Sustainable Furnishings and Building Materials
  • Sustainable Food
  • Energy
  • Disposables
  • Chemical and Pollution Reduction

In addition to sustainable restaurants, several guides exist to help you navigate your way to vegetarian, organic, and local dinner sources.

Happy Cow Compassionate Eating Guide

Local Harvest

VegGuide

2. Remember to eat local.

Try to support restaurants that rely on local farmers, farmers’ markets, and food co-ops to stock their pantries.

3. Be sure to order with a conscience.

Consult the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide before ordering seafood. The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides “best choices,” “good alternatives,” and those fish to “avoid” in order to help sustain wild, diverse, and healthy ocean ecosystems for the future.

EarthEasy also has a sustainable seafood list by type.

4. Make responsible water choices.

Only ask for a glass of water if you’ll actually drink it. If the meal is coming to an end, decline last minute fill-ups if you won’t be staying to finish them off.

5. When eating on the go…

Refuse extras like condiments or plastic utensils if taking your food home.  Or, if you know how much ketchup or napkins you’ll need, be specific and request just one or two. Be sure to reuse the bags and cups you get as many times as you can afterward.

6. Doggie Bag?

If you are really hard-core, bring your own reusable container for leftovers. Make doggie bags a thing of the past!

Just a side note – Throughout my childhood, when visiting the buffet, my grandma would hide plastic bags in her purse to bring home “leftovers.” Some may say she was ahead of her time sustainably. But the reality is that she was frugal. :)  I would politely remind her…although it doesn’t explicitly say, “All you can eat HERE,” it should be implied.

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