For many living the eco life, the general consensus is that eating out isn’t the best practice. It’s usually more expensive than cooking at home, and can be detrimental for both the environment and yourself.
But luckily for you, it doesn't have to be like that. You can absolutely eat out while still living more sustainably. You just need to be smart about it, and incorporate your sustainable practices into your dinner outside.
That’s why we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of tips to keep in mind the next time you decide to skip the groceries and get some food at that Italian place down the street. Shall we begin?
1. Know What You’re Eating
Eating out doesn’t always have to mean eating unhealthy, or eating non-conscientiously. You can reduce your environmental footprint by making smarter choices when it comes to what you eat.
So what does it mean to eat sustainable food items?
It means consuming less meat. You don’t have to go full on vegan, but less meat does help reduce your overall carbon footprint. It also means going organic, and choosing foods that are fresh and in-season. This is particularly important when it comes to fruits and vegetables. It also means getting food that’s locally sourced.
Look up that restaurant’s menu and where they get their food before booking that reservation. A lot of diners are becoming increasingly transparent with their dishes, so take advantage!
2. Know Where You’re Eating
Following from the previous tip, also be aware of where you’re going to be eating.
A lot of restaurants are becoming increasingly aware of their environmental impact, and are doing what they can to provide you with ethical and sustainable services (yes, services, because being eco-friendly goes beyond just your food!). These are the places that you want to eat at.
Plus, you’re supporting them so they can continue to create a positive impact on the planet. It’s a win-win.
3. Make Use of Apps and Internet Resources
So how do you find out all that information on organic food and environmentally-friendly restaurant brands?
A very good question, and we’ll answer that with technology.
That’s right. There are a lot of apps out there that can provide you with the right information on what to eat and where to eat. Happy Cow for example, is an app that helps you locate vegan and/or vegetarian restaurants across the globe. Good Guide tells you everything you need to know about the food you eat and how it’s sourced. Nifty, huh?
For a more comprehensive list of modern apps for sustainable eating, check out this article from Forbes.
4. Travel Consciously
Agreed to meet people away from home? No big deal.
Just don’t drive if you can help it.
Motor vehicles are some of the most notorious contributors to air pollution. That’s why it’s so important that you drive your car sparingly. If you can help it, ride a bicycle over. Or if you live in the big city, go by subway, or by bus. Shared transportation is actually a very effective way to reduce your individual carbon emissions.
5. Eat in a Group
Sharing is caring. And let’s be honest, eating alone outside can get a little awkward.
That’s why it’s a good idea to eat out with other people. It’s not just good for your spirits, but it’s also a good way to reduce the amount of food you waste. If you don’t like the idea of bringing food back home, you can always use your friend(s) as a food dumpster!
In fact, sharing your sustainable practices with the people in your life is another great way for all of you to create a more positive impact collectively.
6. Bring Back Your Food
Your parents have told you time and time again to always finish what’s on your plate. But do you?
No, not always.
That’s not in itself a terrible thing, but that does mean that a lot of food gets wasted. In Canada alone 63% of the food we eat is thrown away. And that means all the resources like water and energy used to get that food to your plate goes to waste. You can help stop this by simply bringing your leftovers back home in a box.
You can even take this one step further by excluding all the plastic disposables that come with taking food back home, which brings us our next tip…
7. Stay Away From Disposable Cutlery
A lot of restaurants give you a lot of freebies when you order food to go.
The world doesn’t need any more plastic waste, especially when it’s unnecessary. You have tissue at home. You have your own forks, spoons, knives and plates. You even have your own bags that you can bring wherever you go.
Think about it. If you’re only bringing a small box of food in a bag (or not; you could skip that part and just carry the box) home, that’s a lot less stuff to carry. Yay!
8. Bring Your Own Stuff
- Your own reusable container
- Your own bag
- Your own reusable bottle
- Your own straw
There’s a lot of stuff you can bring yourself. You don’t even need to bring all of the things listed above. But you can reduce a lot of waste by not using straws in your drinks (or simply by using your own), bringing back your food in a reusable container instead of a Styrofoam box, or even storing your leftover water or beverages in a bottle (or just drink it all right then and there).
If there’s anything to take away from this article, it’s that there are so many ways to live the life you want more sustainably. You just need to get creative.
9. Compost Your Scraps
Okay. Maybe your leftovers aren't quite enough to sustain you for one more meal. Nor are they small enough to finish off in one final gulp. Or maybe your fridge is too full and you don't want to bring them back.
Regardless of what your reasons may be, another option to put your waste to use is by using your food as compost. You do have to bring it back home, but composting is easy. Here's a quick guide to get you started.
10. Opt Out of Paper Receipts
Paper receipts are slowly becoming the new plastic straw. Millions are wasted per year and none of them are recycled due to the chemicals used to produce them.
That’s why it’s important for you to be a step ahead in the game by refusing paper receipts. There are a lot of ways you can do this. Many apps, banks and shops are allowing for the use of digital e-receipts, so definitely make use of the option whenever you can. If that’s not an option, try asking to not have the receipt printed out.
It might seem like there isn't much that can be done as a consumer, but there's still a lot that you can do. You have a lot more control than you think.
With love and compassion,