March 27, 2010

Tip of the day

Today, as we recognize Earth Hour, I begin almost a month of tips geared towards helping you and your family become better environmental stewards.  I will end the eco-friendly tips on Earth Day, April 22nd.

When the waiter comes to your table, start the conversation out by saying, “Please do not bring Styrofoam to this table.”  About a year ago, I became annoyed with how often waiters would bring our daughter disposable cups with lids.  I also noticed how they would bring Styrofoam to-go containers to the table, even before we requested them.  Once they are on our table, they must be thrown away.  I decided to nip this in the bud by beginning the interaction with this simple request.  Styrofoam is recycled in some parts of the country, but that isn’t an option here in the East TN area.

What do we do about our daughter drinking from real cups?  We let her.  We ask that they fill only about an inch or so of water in the glass.  On the very rare occasion when she spills, it isn’t such a big deal because there is just a little water in there.  Sometimes we ask for coffee mugs as a glass for her if the tumblers seem to big for her to hold.  She has been drinking out of a cup for a few years now.  While we still use sippy cups in her lunch and on occasion when out, most of her beverages are in a glass. 

We have also started asking waiters to not leave straws at our table.  This reduces plastic use.  Even though they are recyclable in our area, it is a pain to have to bring them home with us.  This saves us both the guilt and the trouble.

What do we do about bringing home leftover foods at a restaurant?  We have a few options.  Sometimes we ask for a paper bag if the food is dry—a sandwich, rolls, chips, etc.  Sometimes we remember to bring our own containers, though that is rare.  Sometimes the restaurants have a plastic to-go option, and we choose that.  I wash and reuse the containers before recycling them.  If all other options are exhausted, we will opt for some foil or plastic wrap from the kitchen. 

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