April 12, 2011

Tip of the day—Eco-friendly at Restaurants

  • When you can, patronize restaurants that buy from local sources.  Whenever I see chefs at local farmers markets, I ask what restaurant they work with and try to visit those places.  Many restaurants who buy from local farmers advertize that fact.  In Knoxville, Veg-o-rama, Sunspot, Tomato Head, and La Costa are just a few who try to do this.
  • Commend restaurants when they choose eco-friendly options.  When I see restaurants moving to washable dishes instead of disposables, I make an effort to tell the manager or owner how much I appreciate those steps.
  • Kids can use real things too!  It never ceases to amaze me how servers will automatically bring our daughter a Styrofoam or kiddie cup.  We try to start a conversation with wait staff by asking that she receive a regular glass but with only about 1/2 cup of water in it.  She has only spilled her glass one time that I can think of, and not having it completely full of water made clean up a cinch.  If we know that restaurants have smaller juice glasses, we ask that she receive one of those instead of a large one that might be too big for her hands. 
  • Leftovers.  When we can, we try to bring a few of our own containers from home and stash them in the car in case we have leftovers.  Of course, I realize this isn’t very practical.  In our area it is possible to recycle Styrofoam, but it isn’t very easy to do so.  Therefore, I ask about other options for to-go containers.  Many restaurants have an all plastic option that we can reuse a few times before recycling.  The ones at Cracker Barrel are great to reuse when sending a meal or muffins to a friend who is sick.  You can also ask for a little wax paper from the kitchen to wrap up sandwiches or use a paper napkin for leftover rolls. 
  • Ask restaurants to make changes.  I have phoned the main customer service number for Chick-fil-a multiple times to ask them to change over to paper cups instead of Styrofoam.  The more people who are making these kinds of calls, the more likely restaurants and stores will make changes for the better.  Our church, for instance, tries to avoid Styrofoam purchases when serving meals simply because I asked them to consider other options. 

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