Hello to All!
Well, I am back on Danish soil – very cold and wet soil, as it turns out. I miss Los Angeles just a tad already, but I suppose it’s only the sunshine that really stole my heart, the rest of that fast-paced, always-in-a-car lifestyle I could leave behind for a while. One thing that I truly marveled at in L.A. was the total lack of home cooking and the incredible frequency of restaurant dining and take-out. It was like no one knew how to make food for themselves; all fridges jammed with convenience meals or Styrofoam containers of lowly leftovers. It could have just been the crowd I was rolling with, but it just seemed like the norm to eat out several times a week, if not more than once during a single day! Craziness.
So it perfect timing when one of my old students emailed me asking if she could write an article for My New Roots to complete a project for her university class on Social Context. Her assignment focused on ways to make a difference in her community, and she chose to write about decreasing the waste consumption in restaurants by informing consumers about the waste of the restaurant industry and creating a demand for greener restaurants, while also providing restaurants with ways to become more environmentally friendly. Awesome! This could not have come at a better time.
Without further ado, I present Dining in the Dark – a project to help us all be a little more conscious when eating out.
As much as I wish that I could be as creative and talented as Sarah is in the kitchen, I frankly am not. And if you are like me, you find yourself eating out more than twice a week. However, have you ever really stopped and thought about the ramifications of requesting that meal, getting that takeout, or ordering that delivery? Many of us do not think about the environmental consequences that are connected every time we choose to eat out, mainly because we have been left to dine in the dark.
So, what kind of repercussions am I talking about?
Well, simply put, the restaurant industry is one of the most waste producing and energy consuming hospitality industries out there. An average of 50,000 – 100,000 pounds of trash are produced by a single restaurant every year; that’s more than 50 times the amount that the average person throws away a year! On top of that, a restaurant uses up to 29 gallons of water per meal, equaling an average of 5,800 gallons of water in one day!
Ever wonder how the food on your plate got there? Well, the average fresh food item travels 1,500 miles before reaching your plates. That is equal to 14 tons of carbon emissions or 71 trees!!
What can even be done?
You’re probably now thinking to yourself, “Oh that’s great, but what am I supposed to do about that?” Do not fret because there are many easy ways that you, as consumers, can make a positive change in the very unsustainable restaurant industry. For example:
1. When getting take out, ask the restaurants to exclude plastic utensils and paper napkins in favour of using your own metal utensils at home.
2. Always try to recycle when possible. If the restaurant does not have a recycling bin, suggest to management to provide one! Through recycling, restaurants can cut back on their waste by 95%!
3. Buy and ask for locally grown food! Through cutting back on transportation and production costs of mass produced crops, you are really helping to decrease carbon emissions. Plus locally grown food just tastes better!
4. Take initiative and make a change both at home and at restaurants! Opt for beeswax candles or LED candles over regular paraffin candles. Or even start using non-toxic cleaning chemicals at home by making your own cleaning products. If you want to know about the benefits of choosing these healthier options, just read one of Sarah’s previous posts, such as “The Burning Question” and “DIY Birkenstock-free Cleaning Products”. When you start seeing the difference that it makes at home, start suggesting it to your neighbourhood restaurants!
5. Tell restaurants about our initiative!!! Any restaurant can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help them get on their way to a greener future!
Thanks for listening and stay bright!
Sources: Green your Dining Out and the Green Restaurant Association